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"which" confusion

This topic has 1 expert reply and 3 member replies

"which" confusion

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The Aristotle SC Grail says:

1. ‘Which’ should always come after a comma
2. ‘Which’ must refer to the noun that comes immediately before the comma.

But OG 12 question
26. Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering her letters to anyone else.
(A) Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s
brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering
(B) Dickinson were written over a period that begins a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s
brother and ended shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber
(C) Dickinson, written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother
and that ends shortly before Emily’s death in 1886 and outnumbering
(D) Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage
to Emily’s brother, ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, and outnumbering
(E) Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage
to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber


has the option E as the correct answer

E Correct. Th e information about the period when Dickinson’s letters were written is contained in an adjectival phrase set off by commas, and the main verb outnumber refers clearly to letters.

However, the which here refers to the letters and not the noun "Susan Huntington Dickinson".

Can anyone please explain this...

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Hmmm Yup tht a real pain I am sure.......

but which can some times refer to the whole noun phrase preceding the comma if it makes sense. As it does here..

Secondly, which here cant refer to Dickinson due to were followed by which so the subject of which has to be some thing plural and so does makes sense for letters....

ur first point ‘Which’ should always come after a comm not really as i suppose as which used with preposition like " in which " are also correct..

Hope is helps.

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Thank you..
As per the book the only exception to the rule is when you use something before which such as in, of, for etc.

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ankitji wrote:
The Aristotle SC Grail says:

1. ‘Which’ should always come after a comma
2. ‘Which’ must refer to the noun that comes immediately before the comma.

But OG 12 question
26. Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering her letters to anyone else.
(A) Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s
brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering
(B) Dickinson were written over a period that begins a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s
brother and ended shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber
(C) Dickinson, written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother
and that ends shortly before Emily’s death in 1886 and outnumbering
(D) Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage
to Emily’s brother, ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, and outnumbering
(E) Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage
to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber


has the option E as the correct answer

E Correct. Th e information about the period when Dickinson’s letters were written is contained in an adjectival phrase set off by commas, and the main verb outnumber refers clearly to letters.

However, the which here refers to the letters and not the noun "Susan Huntington Dickinson".

Can anyone please explain this...
Here Dickinson in option E is a human being & we can't use which to refer to a human being therefore which refers to letters

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The Aristotle SC Grail is neither the GMAC nor does it accurately state the rules of modern American English Smile

The rule is that "which" must refer to the noun or noun idea that comes directly before it. For example:

"The letters in the drawer, which is made of wood...." correct, with "which" referring to the noun "drawer," which comes right before it.

"The letters in the drawer, which were written by my mother...." also correct, with with "which" referring to the noun idea "letters in the drawer." Usually, noun ideas involve a modifying prepositional phrase that, in effect, doesn't count.

You might even see this on the GMAT:

"The letters, written with such powerful strokes, which I have kept are my favorite." Here, "which" refers all the way back to "letters" because the intervening modifying clause, set off by commas, can be ignored. Yes, this weird, but I have seen it be correct in GMAC official materials!

Finally, on the issue of commas: The GMAT never tests comma usage. Therefore it is not true that "which" must always be preceded by a comma on the GMAT. If you think there should be a comma but there isn't ... who cares? This is not tested!

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