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According to public health officials

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According to public health officials

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According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

A. than
B. than born
C. than they were
D. than there had been
E. than had been born

What is wrong with other options?

OA A

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Hello!

I think the best way to understand which answer makes the most sense is to replace the word "it" with what that word is referring to - the age of thirty. So let's write out each answer after we make this quick change, and see what we have:

A. According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under the age of thirty.

This one is the best answer because it's clear we're comparing women over 30 to women under 30, rather than comparing the babies being born to women over/under 30. It also uses parallel structure, which makes this easier to understand.

B. According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than born under the age of thirty.

This one is wrong because it oddly suggests the babies were born under the age of 30, which is true, but not really the point. It leaves out who gave birth to the babies! It would have been okay to say "...than born to women under the age of thirty," which makes it clearer who is doing the birthing!

C. According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than they were under the age of thirty.

This one doesn't really make sense when you read it out loud. It kind of suggests that in Massachusetts, there were more women over the age of 30 than under the age of 30, which is not what we're talking about - we're talking about the number of babies being born, not mothers who existed at the time.

D. According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than there had been under the age of thirty.

Again, this answer is trying to compare how many women existed at the time who were over/under the age of 30, and not comparing the number of babies being born to each group. It also just sounds overly wordy and awkward.

E. According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than had been born under the age of thirty.

E has the same problem as B - it suggests the babies were born under the age of 30, not that the women who gave birth to them were! It would have been fine if they added in the women to the phrase and said something like "...than had been born to women under the age of thirty."

For the most part, this questions has to do with using parallel structure - and what goes wrong with meaning if we don't use parallel structure. I hope this explanation helps clear things up, and gives you a better idea of how to answer questions like this in the future!

I'm available if you'd like any follow up.

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EconomistGMATTutor wrote:
Hello!

I think the best way to understand which answer makes the most sense is to replace the word "it" with what that word is referring to - the age of thirty. So let's write out each answer after we make this quick change, and see what we have:

A. According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under the age of thirty.

This one is the best answer because it's clear we're comparing women over 30 to women under 30, rather than comparing the babies being born to women over/under 30. It also uses parallel structure, which makes this easier to understand.

B. According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than born under the age of thirty.

This one is wrong because it oddly suggests the babies were born under the age of 30, which is true, but not really the point. It leaves out who gave birth to the babies! It would have been okay to say "...than born to women under the age of thirty," which makes it clearer who is doing the birthing!

C. According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than they were under the age of thirty.

This one doesn't really make sense when you read it out loud. It kind of suggests that in Massachusetts, there were more women over the age of 30 than under the age of 30, which is not what we're talking about - we're talking about the number of babies being born, not mothers who existed at the time.

D. According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than there had been under the age of thirty.

Again, this answer is trying to compare how many women existed at the time who were over/under the age of 30, and not comparing the number of babies being born to each group. It also just sounds overly wordy and awkward.

E. According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than had been born under the age of thirty.

E has the same problem as B - it suggests the babies were born under the age of 30, not that the women who gave birth to them were! It would have been fine if they added in the women to the phrase and said something like "...than had been born to women under the age of thirty."

For the most part, this questions has to do with using parallel structure - and what goes wrong with meaning if we don't use parallel structure. I hope this explanation helps clear things up, and gives you a better idea of how to answer questions like this in the future!

I'm available if you'd like any follow up.
Thanks a lot!

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BTGmoderatorDC wrote:
According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

A. than
B. than born
C. than they were
D. than there had been
E. than had been born

What is wrong with other options?

OA A
Dear GMAtGuru,
In OA, there is ellipsis implied as follows:
more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than [babies were born to women] under it.[it=refers to age of thirty].

In choice C, could ellipsis be correct as follows:
more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than they were [born to women] under it.
Here, if consider no pronoun ambiguity so they refers to babies. Also, were is correctly used as it appears in the first clause so the verb structure and tense are correct. All other words are implied in the second clause.
The only thing i suspect is that were born should be treated as one unit i.e. either to be mentioned together in the second clause or to be omitted together.
If we consider they refers to women, then the meaning becomes nonsocial.

So where do I go wrong with my interpretation of choice C? I agree that A is shorter and direct.
Thanks in advance

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Mo2men wrote:
So where do I go wrong with my interpretation of choice C?
Incorrect:
More babies were born in 1900 than they were born in 1800.
Here, the usage of they implies that the SAME BABIES born in 1900 were also born in 1800 -- a nonsensical meaning.
Generally:
When a comparison begins with MORE/FEWER + SUBJECT + VERB, the implied clause after than should NOT include a pronoun such as they or those.
Correct:
More babies were born in 1900 than in 1800.
Fewer babies were born in 1800 than in 1900.


For this reason, the usage of they in C is incorrect.

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