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Pronouns

A pronoun is a word which is used in the place of a noun to avoid unnecessary repetition. The noun which is referred to by the pronoun is called antecedent.
 
Study the following examples carefully.
  • Business leaders should manage and support the creativity, just as they do with any other resource, to maximize the profits.

In the above sentence, the word they, a pronoun, is used in the place of business leaders. If you repeat the noun phrase, the sentence not only looks awkward but also loses the concept of sameness, which is quite required for the intended sense. In this example, the noun business managers is the antecedent for the pronoun they.

  • Observation of human behavior and study of deviant behavior have been undertaken for thousands of years, but these were, until the establishment of psychology as an academic discipline, mostly out of personal interest.

In the above example, the pronoun these refers to observation of human behavior and study of deviant behavior. By using the pronoun, the sentence avoids unnecessary repetition of these nouns making it concise. These two noun phrases function as the antecedents for the pronoun these.


Any G-matic question that tests pronoun problems can be handled effectively only if you can identify the pronouns and their antecedents. Thus, the following exercise is designed to enhance of that ability of yours. When you substitute the antecedent in the place of the pronoun, the sentence should remain logical. This is a way of verifying whether or not your answer is correct.

 

Identification of antecedents
Identify the antecedents for the underlined pronouns and pronoun-derivatives in the following sentences.

  1. The evergreen needles in pine trees limit the loss of water due to water transpiration and their dark green color increases their absorption of sunlight, facilitating photosynthesis.
  2. Research indicates that inmates of prison who maintain contact with family and friends in the outside world are less likely to be convicted of further crimes after the completion of imprisonment than those who are completely isolated.
  3. A species is considered endemic to some defined area if it is confined entirely to it.
  4. In contrast to that of Europe, which is perceived to be a symbol of evil, the Chinese dragon symbolizes auspicious powers to save human race.
  5. A wild fire, also called forest fire or bushfire basing on the type of vegetation being burnt, differs from other fires by its extensive size, the speed at which it can spread  and its     potential to change its direction quite unexpectedly.

 Keys

  1. Their (possessive adjective) refers to evergreen needles
  2. Those refers to inmates of prison
  3. The first it refers to species while the second it refers to some defined area. The problem with this sentence is that the same pronoun it used to refers to two different nouns in two different places. This type of use is questionable. So, this is an incorrect sentence, G-matically speaking.
  4. The pronoun that refers to the Chinese Dragon, not the dragon. Now, substitute the noun in the place of pronoun. In contrast to the Chinese dragon of Europe, which is perceived to be a symbol of evil, the Chinese dragon symbolizes auspicious powers to save human race. It is illogical to refer this way!
  5. It and its both refer to the same noun wild fire.

The Types of Pronouns

To facilitate the detailed discussion of pronouns, we should learn the pronouns most commonly used. A brief discussion of these pronouns is also included for an overview of the concept.

  1. Personal pronouns
     
    Pronouns which refer to persons/things are called personal pronouns. These generally change their forms basing on their function in the sentences. The following is the comprehensive list of the pronouns and their forms.

Pronoun as subject

Pronoun as object

Pronoun in possessive case

Possessive pronoun form

Reflexive pronoun form

I

me

my

mine

myself

we

us

our

ours

ourselves

you

you

your

yours

yourself - singular

yourselves- plural

she

her

her

hers

herself

he

him

his

his

himself

they

them

their

theirs

themselves

It

it

its

its

itself

 

Examples for use of personal pronouns

  • We have to enrich ourselves with our knowledge.
  • She respected us despite our foibles.
  • Their project is theoretically sound while ours is practically sound.
  1. Demonstrative pronouns
    Pronouns that refer to things basing on the spatial proximity (nearness of space) are called demonstrative pronouns. Just four pronouns constitute this group: this, these, that, and those. Note that these pronouns should agree with the number of the antecedent.
    Study the following example.

* The proposals made by the management are quite incompatible with that made by the striking workers’ union.

The singular pronoun (that) in the sentence does not agree in number with the plural antecedent proposals. The corrected version is as follows.

* The proposals made by the management are quite incompatible with those made by the striking workers’ union.

  1. Reciprocal pronouns
    The pronouns that show reciprocation (the two-way action) between the subject and object are called reciprocal pronouns.
    They are each other and one another. You may note that when two persons are considered, we generally use each other, while we generally use one other when more than two are considered.
    Study the following example.

* The two brothers like each other. (It is to note that the use of each other makes the adjective two redundant!)

* All the members of the team should cooperate with one another to make the project a success.

  1. Indefinite pronouns
    The pronouns that refer to something/someone unspecified are called indefinite pronouns.
     
    Because of this very nature, they do not need antecedents. The following indefinite pronouns are always considered singular and thus take singular verb.

anybody

somebody

nobody

everybody

each

neither

anyone

someone

no one

everyone

either

none

anything

something

nothing

everything

one


Study the following examples.

*Neither of the participants was found to be good enough to represent the college.

*None of the books is found to be beyond criticism.

We should note that none is very frequently used as a plural subject. though this use is well established in informal expression, especially in IT industry, this use is not acceptable in G-matic expression.

? None of the books are found to be beyond criticism.

Study a special case of usage of the indefinite pronoun each. Both these sentences are correct.

*Each of the participants is given a chance to compete.

*The participants each are given a certificate of merit.

The following indefinite pronouns are always used as plural.
 

both

many

few

several


Study the following examples.

*Both of the proposals are found acceptable.

*Several of the contestants have performed beyond expectations.

The following indefinite pronouns are considered either singular or plural basing on the context. If they are used with uncountable nouns, they are considered singular. If they are used with countable nouns, they are considered plural.
 

all

any

most

some


Look at the examples given below.

*All of the governmental regulations on fishing to save the biome of its coastal region are to be revised.

*All of the financial aid is to be apportioned properly among the needy.

  1. Relative pronouns
    Pronouns which relate some description or definition to the preceding nouns are called relative pronoun. The clauses they start are called relative clauses.
    The following is the list of relative pronouns.

who

whom

whose

which

that

 

whichever

whoever

whomever


This small group of pronouns is extremely important in G-matic English as most of the students I have seen have deep-rooted bad language practices about these. We are going to discuss them in a detailed way in a separate section.

Pronouns—G-matic Implications

The pronouns are tested in relatively few ways in GMAT. Though these are simple testing points, the difficulty lies in the complex background in which the errors are presented

  1. Pronoun—antecedent agreement
    1. A Pronoun should agree with the antecedent.
      This means that we should use a singular pronoun for a singular antecedent and a plural pronoun for a plural antecedent. If this rule is not followed, the pronoun-antecedent agreement error is resulted.
       
      In G-matic sentences, this problem is created by distancing the antecedent from the pronoun using intervening infomation. To correct this problem, we should change the number of either the pronoun or the antecedent. Sometimes you may need to rephrase the sentence.
      Study the errors and ways of correction in the following sentences.
      *If anyone calls for me, tell them that I am busy. (The plural pronoun them does not agree with the singular antecedent.)
      *If anyone calls for me, tell him or her that I am busy. (The pronoun has been changed to singular.)
      *Tell anyone calling me that I am busy. (The sentence is rephrased by changing the structure.)
    2. When two singular nouns are connected by and, they form a compound subject and require a plural pronoun.
       
      Study the following examples.
      *If cost reduction and product innovation are to work to the benefit of the company, it should work in a mutually supplementary way.
      *If cost reduction and product innovation are to work in the benefit of the company, they should work in a mutually supplementary way.
       
      In the above sentence, two singular nouns (cost reduction and product innovation) are used in the first part of the sentence, and the pronoun used to refer to them is plural in the later part of the sentence.
    3. If two or more nouns are connected by or, either… or, and neither … nor, the pronoun should agree with the nearest noun.
      Study the following examples.
      *Either the leader or the members are to soften their demands to arrive at a compromise.
      *Either the members or the leader is to soften his/her demands to arrive at a compromise.

Example
Issued to users as a system of payment, a credit card allows the holder to buy goods and services basing on their promise to pay for these goods and services every month either in full or in part, as per the terms of the credit contract.
A. a credit card allows the holder to buy goods and services basing on their promise to pay
B. credit cards allow the holder to buy goods and services basing on his promise to pay
C. credit cards allow the holders to buy goods and services basing on their promise of paying
D. a credit card allows the holder to buy goods and services basing on his/her promise to pay
E. credit cards allow the holders to buy goods and services basing on their promise to pay
 
Solution
Explanation: the option has pronoun-antecedent disagreement problem and noun consistency problem. At the beginning of the sentence, the use of plural noun users require a plural noun credit cards, because different users are given different credit cards, not a single credit card. Moreover, the singular noun the holder does not agree with the plural noun users. Finally, plural their does not agree with the singular noun the holder.
Option A: this option is incorrect because of pronoun reference and noun consistency problem.
Option B: though the use of plural noun credit cards is correct, use of singular noun the holder is not logical.
Option C: though all these problems are corrected in the option, the use of promise of paying is not idiomatic.
Option D: Although the option maintains number consistency and pronoun -antecedent agreement in the underlined part, the plural noun users outside the underlined part does not agree with the singular number in the underlined portion. Thus, the option is wrong.
Option E: correct. This option uses plural nouns, maintaining noun consistency and the pronoun agreement is also fulfilled.
  1. Absence of antecedent
    A pronoun is a substitute for noun for the purposes discussed above. Thus, every pronoun should have an antecedent in the sentence the pronoun is used. Otherwise, it is incorrect to use a pronoun.
     
    We can correct this error by replacing the pronoun with a logical noun in the context of the sentence. Study the following examples.
    *Many literary critics may find some loopholes in the plot and the story development, but, for a debut, it is still a remarkable creation.
     
    The sentence has two singular nouns that can be the antecedents. They are the plot and the story development. However, it is illogical to say that the plot/story development is still a remarkable creation for a debutThe logical antecedent for the pronoun is either the book or the novel. The use of pronoun is problematic as this antecedent is absent. The sentence can be corrected by using that noun in the place of the pronoun.
     
    *Many literary critics may find some loopholes in the plot and the story development, but, for a debut, the book is still a remarkable creation.
    Look at a bit more tricky example which illustrates the above point.
    *Reading books plays an important role in creative writing; sometimes they may find inspiration from an idea they come across, and this idea may inspire them to write a book which is equally original.
    In the above sentence, the pronoun they should logically refer to creative writers. However, this noun is absent in the sentence. The plural noun present books cannot be a logical antecedent, for books cannot find inspiration. The above sentence can be corrected in the following way.
    *Reading books plays an important role in creative writing; sometimes creative writers may find inspiration from an idea they come across, and this idea may inspire them to write a book which is equally original.

Example
During the last two centuries, art critics, using diverse approaches that range from objective evaluation to a personal emotional reactions engendered by evaluation of works of art, have developed it into an independent academic discipline
A. have developed it
B. developed them
C. have developed the same
D. have developed art criticism
E. developing art criticism
Solution
Explanation: The given sentence contains pronoun it which should logically refer to art criticism. This noun is not present in the sentence. Thus, the sentence has a problem of absence of antecedent for the pronoun.
Option A: the option has a problem of absence of antecedent.
Option B: there is an unnecessary shift of tense. As the art criticism is still a distinct discipline, use of past tense developed is not correct. Moreover, the plural pronoun cannot logically refer to any of the plural nouns (art critics, approaches or works of art). Thus, this option too has the problem of absence of antecedent.
Option C: the use of the same requires explicit statement of art criticism as a grammatical referent in the earlier part of the sentence. This option too has the problem of absence of grammatical referent.
Option D: correct. This uses correct tense and corrects the problem of antecedent problem by using the logical noun in the place of the pronoun.
Option E: this option, despite its removal of pronoun problem, creates a sentence fragment.
  1. Error of ambiguous reference
    Besides having an antecedent, a pronoun should also have a clear and unambiguous antecedent. The problem of ambiguous reference, a problem of style and logic, occurs when there are two possible antecedents for a single pronoun.
    This problem can be corrected either by using the corresponding noun or by rephrasing the sentence to remove the ambiguity.
    Study the following example to understand how ambiguity is created in a sentence.
    *The documents developed by the new law-recruits are not perfect and so we need to send them back to the main office.
    In the above sentence, the plural pronoun them can refer to either the documents or new law recruits. This results in the problem of ambiguity. The following is the corrected sentence.
    *The documents developed by the new law-recruits are not perfect and so we need to send the documents/ the new law-recruits back to the main office.
    However, this problem of ambiguity does not arise in the following sentences because of the ‘logic’ of the sentences.
    *The documents developed by the new law-recruits are not perfect and so we need to send them back to the main office for further editing.
    *The documents developed by the new law-recruits are not perfect and so we need to send them back to the main office for further training.
    In the above sentences, the use of phrase for further editing or further training creates a logical background that resolves the problem of ambiguity.
    * The astronomers have discovered a volcano on the planet which seems very large.
    In the above sentence, the relative pronoun (which) may refer to either the volcano or the planet. This sentence can be corrected by restructuring the sentence.
    *On the planet, the astronomers have discovered a volcano which seems to be very large.
    *On the planet, which seems to be very large, the astronomers have discovered a volcano.

Example
In response to the editor’s false characterization of the postponement of Parliament sessions, the government spokesperson asserted that this would not curtail the government’s agenda of accelerating the economic reforms.
A. this would not curtail the government’s agenda
B. it would not curtail the government in its agenda
C. the postponement would not curtail the government’s agenda
D. the postponement would not curtail the agenda of the government
E. the postponement which would not curtail the government’s agenda
Solution
Explanation: The underlined part starts with the pronoun this which is ambiguous in reference. It can mean either the postponement of parliament or false characterization. Thus, the sentence is incorrect.
Option Athe sentence has ambiguous reference problem.
Option Bthis sentence not only repeats the reference problem with another pronoun, but also introduces a new error in predication. The postponement does not curtail the government, but the agenda. This sense leads to illogical predication.
Option Ccorrect. This option removes the ambiguity problem by using the relevant noun and thus, is the best option.
Option D: in spite of the correction of both the errors, it creates a modification error. The prepositional phrase of accelerating the economic reforms is related to the agenda, not to the government. So, this option creates misplaced modifier error by putting the noun government before the modifier phrase.
Option Ethis option introduces a fragment error. After the conjunction that, the use of a noun phrase gives incomplete sense.

 

Skepticism About Pronouns – a Warning

Though doubting the pronoun reference is needed to some extent in G-matic sentence correction, doubting too much is surely not goodThis skepticism makes them prone to committing mistakes by rejecting correct options.


Pronouns are quite useful in our expression and many a time avoiding their use makes the sentence awkward and even laughable. Any language remains quite economical as well as logical in its evolution. The very fact that pronouns exist in our language proves their indispensability. However, the G-matic sentences test only specific cases of pronoun misuse, which are discussed in the following section.

G-matic Errors: Cases of Pronoun Misuse

To overcome the problem of unnecessary skepticism in the use of pronouns, you should know the cases in which pronouns cannot be used. If you understand these points, you will certainly understand almost all pronoun errors tested in GMAT.

  1. A pronoun cannot be used to refer to an implied noun.
    Every antecedent in any of the G-matic sentences should be explicit and clearly stated. Thus, if any pronoun refers to an implied noun, the problem of absence of antecedent arises. The problem can be corrected by supplying the antecedent or avoiding the use of the pronoun.
    Study the following example and its correction.
    * Inspired by the renowned skill of his grandfather in painting, he wanted to become one.
    The pronoun one cannot logically refer to either of the singular nouns (renowned skill and grandfather) that are present. It is illogical to say that he wanted to become a renowned skill/grandfather. The logical referent is a painter, which is implied, rather than explicitly stated.
    *Inspired by the renowned skill of his grandfather in painting, he wanted to become a painter.

Example
Although scientists have invested enormous effort in understanding the chemical basis of memory, they have not resulted in any conclusive hypothesis about the physiological basis of memory.
A. in understanding the chemical basis of memory, they have not resulted in any conclusive hypothesis
B. to understand the chemical basis of memory, but it has not resulted in any conclusive hypothesis
C. to understand the chemical basis of memory, while they have not resulted in any conclusive hypothesis
D. in understanding the chemical bases of memory, they have a hypothesis no longer conclusive
E. to understand the chemical basis of memory, the efforts have not resulted in any conclusive hypothesis
Solution
Explanation: the expression efforts in doing something is not idiomatic in the context. The correct expression is effort to do something. Moreover, the pronoun they logically refers to the implied noun efforts. This is not acceptable.
Option A: this option has idiom problem as well as absence of antecedent problem.
Option B: the use of but along with the other conjunction though is redundant. Otherwise, the sentence is acceptable as the pronoun it correctly refers to enormous effort.
Option C: the use of another conjunction while is unnecessary and illogical as the required conjunction though is already present. Moreover, the pronoun they, referring to plural noun scientists gives the sense that the scientists have not resulted in any conclusive hypothesis. This sense is illogical.
Option D: the use of in understanding is unidiomatic. The change of structure results in illogical sense. The use of no longer conclusive implies that they have a hypothesis which was once conclusive. This sense is not logical.
Option E: correct. This option uses idiomatically correct expression and uses plural noun (efforts), which is logical in the context.
  1. A pronoun cannot refer to an adjective.
    A pronoun is a substitute for a noun only. This problem becomes a bit tricky when a relevant noun is present in the sentence, but is not acting as a noun, but as an adjective. This case also results in the problem of absence of antecedent.
    Study the following examples and the corrections
    as well.
    * Though the company has been successful in a phenomenal way, the company does not want to be complacent about it.
    The pronoun it seems to refer to successful which is an adjective. In fact, the pronoun is referring to the implied noun success. So, you can correct the error by supplying the noun.
    * Despite its phenomenal success, the company does not want to be complacent about it.

Example
Though the lead actor’s performance won the critical acclaim, he was not known beyond certain audiences because of the provincial nature of the play.
A. he was not known beyond certain audiences because of the provincial nature of the play.
B. the actor was not known beyond certain audiences because of the provincial nature of the play.
C. the actor was not known beyond certain audiences because of the play which is provincial in nature.
D. the provincial nature of the play makes him not known beyond certain audiences.
E. the provincial nature of the play makes him unknown beyond certain audiences.
Solution
Explanation: the pronoun (he) does not have the antecedent required because the noun (lead actor) in possessive case functions as an adjective and thus cannot act the antecedent.
Option A: the pronoun does not have antecedent. Thus, the given option is incorrect as it is.
Option B: correct. This option corrects the sentence by using the relevant noun.
Option C: the sentence corrects the antecedent problem. However, the prepositional object the play is not the logical object because it is the provincial nature, but not the play that is reason for the absence of popularity beyond certain audiences.
Option D: to show the contrast in cases such as these, change of subject is not stylistically good. His winning the critical acclaim should be contrasted with his not being known. Finally, the expression makes him not known is not idiomatic.
Option E: the change of subject does not bring out the contrast required in the context.

 

  1. The pronoun cannot refer to a verb.
    Though this kind of error is easy to deal with, it may become a bit tricky in some cases, especially with to infinitives, which are actually noun-equivalents.
    Study the following example and the correction.
    * While visiting some busy tourist places, you should plan in advance, because, without doing this, you may have to wait a long time.
    In the above sentence, the pronoun this refers to
    the verb (should plan) The reference is not acceptable. It is advisable to use so in the place of the pronoun. 
    Thus the following is the correct version of the above sentence.
    * While visiting some busy tourist places, you need to plan in advance, because, without doing so, you may have to wait a long time.

Example
To justify the higher prices of products made from recycled material, the manufacturers of these products claim that they recycle material spending a lot, as it is very labor intensive.
 
A. To justify the higher prices of products made from recycled material, the manufacturers of these products claim that they recycle material spending a lot, as it is
B. By justifying the higher prices of products made from recycled material, the manufacturers of these products claim that they recycle material spending a lot as they are
C. To justify the higher prices of products made from recycled material, the manufacturers of these products claim they recycle material spending a lot because the recycling process is
D. Justifying the higher prices of products made from recycled material, the manufacturers of these products claim the recycled material that costs a lot because the process is
E. In order to justify products made from recycled which are made at high price, the manufacturers claim recycled material on which they spend a lot, as they are
Solution
Explanation: the sentence uses to infinitive at the beginning of the sentence correctly modifying the subject and correctly giving the purpose of their claim. However, the logically needed antecedent for the pronoun it is recycling. This is the verb of the sentence. As the pronoun cannot refer the verb, the sentence is incorrect.
Option A: this option is with the problem of pronoun reference. The pronoun it incorrectly refers to the verb recycle.
Option B: this option gives illogical sense by reversing the causal relation. It would have been logical the following way: by claiming that the recycling process is costly, they justify higher prices. Finally, the pronoun they has no logical antecedent.
Option C: correct. The option clearly expresses the purpose by using the infinitive, and removes the pronoun reference problem by using relevant noun.
Option D: the structure the manufacturers claim the recycled products changes the meaning in such a way as the changed meaning is not logical in the context.
Option E: this option is also illogical as the manufacturers want to justify, not the recycled products, but the higher prices.
  1. A pronoun cannot refer to the general idea present in the whole sentence or clause that goes before it.
     
    Though it is accepted in informal expression, this is not acceptable in G-matic English. The sentence can be corrected either by replacing the pronoun or by changing the structure of the sentence.
    Study the following example and its corrections.
    * Ms Susan is quite clever and industrious, and this is known to all of us.
    In the above sentence, the pronoun this is referring to the whole independent clause that comes before the conjunction and. This use of pronoun is incorrect. The following are the possible corrections.
    *Ms Susan is quite clever and industrious and this fact is known to all of us.
    *That Ms Susan is quite clever and industrious is known to all of us.
    *All of us know that Ms Susan is quite clever and industrious.

Example
Many commercial software firms are expending valuable resources to develop open source products and this spending seems strange to economists because the firm is developing programs that will be given free to the consumers.
A. and this spending seems
B. which seems
C. and this seems
D. but that seems to be
E. which seem
Solution
Explanation: despite its odd appearance, the option is correct as it is.
Option A: correct. This sentence has no error in pronoun reference or otherwise.
Option B: the relative pronoun modifies the whole main clause present before this. Though acceptable in informal expression, this reference is not acceptable in formal language
Option C: the pronoun this refers to the whole clause present before and. This is incorrect.
Option D: the same problem is repeated with the pronoun that. Moreover, to be is redundant after the verb seems.
Option E: the plural verb seem in the relative clause connects the predicate with the plural noun
open source products, giving the sense that open source products seem illogical to economists. This sense is illogical.
  1. The pronoun it is sometimes problematic because of its dual uses.
    The pronoun it can be used in two ways: it can be used to refer to a noun, a use which is called personal use and it can be used to refer to nothing, a use which is called impersonal use. We use the pronoun it impersonally when we comment on actions, weather etc., or when we use it as a filler subject/object.
    Study the following sentences to understand the both of these uses.
  • Agribusiness has always been an important economic activity, and even in the modern scenario of industrialization, it has remained a critical part of society.
     
    In the above sentence, the pronoun it refers to agribusiness. This use is called personal use of it.
  • It is always necessary for a business concern to estimate how the consumer preferences are likely to change in the ever-changing business environment.
  • Changes made to administrative boundaries have made it very difficult to develop dependable demographic statistics at different times, especially in state level in the United States.
  • It is very hot in Torrid Zone because of the directness of the sun rays which travel minimal distances in atmosphere losing little heat.

If you study the above sentences carefully, you will understand the pronoun it in last three sentences is actually referring to nothing in specific. This kind of use of it is called impersonal use. The pronoun it is a filler it, which is just a grammatical subject of the sentence. The real subject comes later.


While both the uses discussed above are correct in standard written expression, the combination of both uses in the same sentence is incorrect as it results in ambiguity of reference.

Study the following sentence to understand the above problem and the correction.

* My neighbor loves his car so much that he never keeps it outside when it is hot.

The sentence uses personal it after keeps referring to the car while the second it is an impersonal it which logically refers to weather. This dual use of it causes confusion and ambiguity. We are not sure whether the second it is referring to the car or the weather. We can correct this sentence by avoiding either of the two pronouns.

* My neighbor loves his car so much that he never keeps the car outside when it is hot.

* My neighbor loves his car so much that he never keeps it outside when the weather is hot.


Relative Pronouns – G-matic Implications

Relative pronouns are pronouns which start relative clauses. In the bigger unit of the sentence, they ‘relate’ an idea or concept to a noun which precedes them. They are very important in G-matic English. Let me introduce some important concepts about them. Please read the above list of relative pronouns so that the following discussion is easily understood.


A clause (subject-verb group) that is started with a relative pronoun is called a relative clause. In the following example, italicized parts are relative clauses.

  • The pandemic flu, which swept across the globe in 1918, had a disproportionate effect on vulnerable population; in The United States alone, 6, 70,000 persons died while 25 millions who contracted it were able to survive.
  1. A defining relative clause
    A defining relative clause defines or identifies the noun we are talking about. It is an essential part of the sentence and removing this clause from the sentence changes basic sense of the sentence. Thus it is not separated from the rest of the sentence using commas.
  • The countries that do not comply with the international emission standards are likely to face sanctions in international trade.
    In the above sentence, if the italicized clause is removed, the sentence does not give the intended meaning. You should note the absence of commas on either side of the relative clause.
  1. A non-defining relative clause
    A non-defining relative clause just adds infomation which is not essential for the basic sense of the sentence. As it is non-essential part of the sentence, it is usually separated from the rest of the sentence with a comma on either side.
    Study the following example to understand how a non-defining relative clause is used.
  • The pandemic flu, which swept across the globe in 1918, had a disproportionate effect on vulnerable population; in The United States alone, 6, 70,000 persons died while 25 millions who contracted it were able to survive.

You can note that even if the italicized relative clause is removed from the sentence, the basic sense of the sentence is still given by the remaining sentence. you can note the commas used on either side of the clause.

G-matic Errors in the Use of Relative Pronouns 

Informal English allows certain uses of relative pronouns, but these uses are not acceptable in standard written expression. Some G-matic sentences, which are quite attractive to the students, are with these seemingly correct options.

  1. Absence of antecedent
    A relative pronoun should ALWAYS be used after the noun it logically modifies. If the relative pronoun is not used after such a noun, it is definitely incorrect.
     
    To correct this problem, we need to force an appositive before the relative clause. This appositive must be logically modified by the relative pronoun.

Study the following example with this error and see how it is corrected.

* The efforts to remove the wreckage of the collapsed building started late, which, unfortunately, increased the death toll.

In the above sentence, the relative pronoun is used after late. This is an adverb, not a noun. Thus, this sentence has the problem of absence of antecedent for the relative pronoun.

* The efforts to remove the wreckage of the collapsed building started late, a delay, which, unfortunately, increased the death toll.

In this sentence, we have used the noun a delay. This noun is logically modified by the relative clause. This noun is the forced appositive.

* The efforts to remove the wreckage of the collapsed building started late and this delay, unfortunately, increased the death toll.

Example
Staunch supporters of free-market oppose the restrictions on imports, even though the domestic manufacturers may suffer financially, which seems quite unpatriotic on their part.
A. even though the domestic manufacturers may suffer financially, which seems quite unpatriotic on their part.
B. even if the domestic manufacturers may suffer financially, a situation which seems unpatriotic on the part of the supporters
C. even though the domestic manufacturers may suffer financially, an opposition which seems unpatriotic on the part of the supporters.
D. even if the domestic manufacturers may suffer the possibility of financial loss, which seems unpatriotic on the part of the supporters.
E. even though the domestic manufacturers may suffer the financial losses, which seem unpatriotic on the part of the supporters.
Solution
Explanation: the relative pronoun which is used after an adverb. So there is a problem of absence of antecedent for the pronoun. Moreover, the possessive their may refer to either domestic manufacturers or staunch supporters. This results in ambiguity of pronoun reference. Thus, the given sentence is incorrect as it is.
Option A: the relative pronoun has no antecedent and there is another problem of ambiguity.
Option B: the conjunction even if is not logical here. Even though an appositive a situation is used, the use of this appositive is incorrect. It is not the situation, but the opposition of the supporters of free-market, that seems unpatriotic.
Option C: correct. This is the correct option as it removes all the errors and gives the intended meaning.
Option D: the conjunction is not apt. the relative clause cannot logically modify the preceding noun phrase because the sentence gives an illogical sense that the possibility of losses seems unpatriotic on the part of the supporters.
Option E: the option has the same illogical problem with the relative pronoun.
  1. Illogical antecedent for relative pronoun
    A relative pronoun should always be present after the noun which is logically modified by it. Otherwise, it results in illogical predication error or in misplaced modifier error.
    To correct this error, we need to supply a logical antecedent for the relative pronoun or avoid the use of the relative pronoun.
    Study the following examples in which the misplacement of relative clause is an error.

* The off-shoring process has different implications for policy makers, business leaders and members of the workforce, which reduces the availability of the jobs to the local people.

In the above sentence, the relative clause is present after the noun workforce. It is illogical to say that the workforce reduces the availability of the jobs. Because of this, the sentence develops the problem of illogical predication and thus, the relative clause is misplaced. To correct this error, we need to supply the noun which can be logically modified by the relative clause. Thus the corrected sentence is as follows.

 

* The off-shoring process has different implications for policy makers, business leaders and members of the workforce, a process, which reduces the availability of the jobs to local people.

* The off-shoring process, which reduces the availability of jobs to local people, has different implications for policy makers, business leaders and members of the workforce.

Both the above are corrections; one forcing an appositive and the other placing the clause at the right place. However, whether we should follow the first correction or the second correction is dependent on the extent of underlining of the G-matic sentence.

Example
Scientists have accumulated a lot of evidence on the influence of diet on cancer, which proves that phyto-
chemicals found in plant foods
 are credited with boosting immunity strength and inhibiting disease progression.
A. which proves that phyto-chemicals found in plant foods
B. and it proves that phyto-chemicals found in plant foods
C. which proves the phyto-chemicals that are found in plant foods and that
D. and this evidence proves that phyto-chemicals found in plant foods
E. and this evidence proves phyto-chemicals found in plant foods which
Solution
Explanation: the relative pronoun that starts the underlined part may refer to cancer, influence of diet, or a lot of evidence. In fact, this pronoun should unambiguously refer to a lot of evidence. Thus, the given sentence is incorrect.
Option A: the sentence is with ambiguity problem with relative pronoun.
Option B: the option uses a pronoun in the place of the relative pronoun, but the reference problem is still present. There is ambiguity in the reference. The pronoun may refer to evidence, influence, diet or even cancer.
Option C: besides the reference problem, the option introduces predication problem. The evidence proves not the phyto-chemicals, but that the phyto-chemicals are credited with… progression. Thus, this option is incorrect.
Option D: correct. This option corrects the reference problem by using the relevant noun and even the predication problem by using a that clause. Thus, this is the best option.
Option E: this option corrects the ambiguity problem with the relative pronoun by avoiding the ambiguous use. It is not clear whether plant foods or phyto-chemicals are credited with increasing immunity strength. .

 

Relative Pronouns and Subject – Verb Agreement Implications

When the subject is singular, we should use singular verb and when the subject is plural, we should use a plural verb. This concept is called subject – verb agreement. This topic is discussed the chapter Verbs – G-matic Implications. However, we need to know how this concept is relevant to the relative pronouns.

  1. The verb in the relative clause should agree with the antecedent.

Study the following example.

* The recent study which have been conducted in around twenty nations indicates that the internet hacking poses an increasingly dangerous threat to communication systems that is vital to the present global economy.

In the above example, the verb have in the relative clause does not agree with the antecedent the recent study. In the same way, the singular verb is in the second relative clause also does not agree with the plural antecedent. The following is the corrected version of the sentence.

* The recent study which has been conducted in around twenty nations indicates that the internet hacking poses an increasingly dangerous threat to communication systems that are vital to the present global economy.

  1. The verb in the relative clause should agree with the logical antecedent, if two or more possible antecedents are present before the relative clause.

If this rule is not followed, then the error of illogical predication occurs.

Study the following example carefully and identify how this problem is resulted and understand how this problem is corrected.

* A survey of computer-security executives suggests that attacks on the internet pose a growing threat to the communication systems which are to be addressed first to protect the present market economy.

In this sentence, the relative pronoun is preceded by two nouns: threat and communication systems. If the verb in the relative clause is singular, then this clause becomes related to threat and if verb is plural, then it is related to communication systems. It is illogical to say that the communication systems are to be addressed first to protect the present market economy. It is the threat that is to be addressed. Thus, the corrected version is the following one.

*A survey of computer-security executives suggests that attacks on the internet pose a growing threat to the communication systems which is to be addressed first to protect the present market economy

  1. The relative clause may be ambiguous in reference, if it is preceded by two nouns, both of which can function as antecedents.

Sometimes, a relative pronoun may be preceded by two nouns, both of which can be logical antecedents. This results in ambiguity. This problem of ambiguous re-ference can be corrected by changing the structure appropriately.

* The leader of the congress members who opposed the bill cited technical loopholes in the proposed legislation.

In the above sentence, it is not clear as to who op-posed the bill. It may be the leader or the congress members. We need to make major revision to remove the ambiguity. See how this ambiguity is corrected in the following versions.

* The leader of the congress members opposed the bill and cited technical loopholes in the proposed legislation.

* The congress members opposed the bill and their leader cited technical loopholes in the proposed bill.

* The leader of the congress members who has opposed the bill cites the technical loopholes in the proposed legislation

* The leader of the congress members who have opposed the bill cites the technical loopholes in the proposed legislation.
 

Example
Swiss law distinguishing between tax-evasion (non-reporting of income) and tax fraud (active deception), both of which are considered to be serious punishable crimes, the Swiss government used to grant international legal assistance only with respect to tax fraud.
A. both of which are considered to be serious punishable crimes, the Swiss government used to grant international legal assistance only with respect to tax fraud.
B. each of which are considered serious punishable crimes, the Swiss government used to grant international legal assistance with respect to tax fraud only.
C. either of which is considered a serious punishable crime, the Swiss government used to grant international legal assistance with respect to tax fraud only.
D. which are considered serious punishable crimes, the Swiss government used to grant only international legal assistance with respect to tax fraud.
E. which is considered a serious punishable crime, the Swiss government used to grant international legal assistance with respect to tax fraud only.
Solution
Explanation: the option is illogical because if both are considered serious punishable crimes, the government should grant international legal assistance with respect to both the crimes, not to a single crime. Moreover, considered to be crimes is wrong idiom. The position of only is also problematic; it is not clear whether onlymodifies the phrase preceding or that following.
Option A: the option has illogical predication, wrong idiom and squinting modifier problems.
Option B: the antecedent (each of) for relative pronoun which is singular, the verb is plural. This results in agreement problem. The construction implies that both tax-evasion and tax fraud are serious crimes. Then the country’s granting international legal assistance with respect to only tax fraud is not acceptable in this context. Thus, this option is with illogical predication.
Option C: the use of either of which implies that both are considered serious crimes. Thus illogical predication is still present.
Option D: the use of which are… implies that both are crimes, resulting in illogical predication. the adverbial only is misplaced.
Option E: correct. This option, by using singular verb in relative clause, connects the relative clause to the second noun only. This implies that only tax fraud is punishable and thus, the government gives legal assistance only about that crime. This is logical predication.
 

 

Relative pronoun
Each of the following questions is with two versions, one of which contains the relative pronoun error. Identify the correct option and understand how the error is corrected in the option.
I. 

  1. A double nuclear blast survivor who died in 1993, Tsutomu Yamaguchi called his book of poems ‘Human Raft’, which describe how he crossed the river using bodies of nuclear blast victims as ‘raft’.
  2. A double nuclear blast survivor who died in 1993, Tsutomu Yamaguchi called ‘Human Raft’ his book of poems which describe how he crossed the river using bodies of nuclear blast victims as ‘raft’.

II. 

  1. The plantation economies of the New World were built on slave labor, seventy percent of which were used to produce sugar, the most labor-intensive crop.
  2. The plantation economies of the New World were built on slave labor and seventy percent of enslaved people were used to produce sugar, the most labor-intensive crop.

III. 

  1. In a situation of monopoly, a business can decide the price of a particular service, which implies a lack of competition.
  2. In a situation of monopoly, a business can decide the price of a particular service, a situation which implies a lack of competition.

IV. 

  1. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) is the term for satellite navigation systems that provide ship-positioning with global coverage.
  2. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) is the term for satellite navigation systems that provides ship-positioning with global coverage.

V. 

  1. Petroglyphs are images created by removing a part of rock by incising, pecking or carving, which is an art form of primeval times.
  2. Petroglyphs are images created by removing a part of rock by incising, pecking or carving, an art form which is of primeval times.

 Keys

  1. (b): The logical antecedent for the relative pronoun is poems because of the plural noun used in the relative clause. This antecedent must be present immediately before the relative clause. Thus, the second sentence is correct.
  2. (b): the plural verb were does not agree with the singular noun slave labor. Moreover, the subject needed for the second clause is enslaved people, which should be explicitly stated. Thus. The second sentence is correct.
  3. (b): the relative pronoun is present after a price of a particular service and this cannot be antecedent for the relative pronoun. In the second sentence, the needed and logical antecedent a situation is correctly used before the relative pronoun. Thus, the second sentence is the correct sentence.
  4. (a): if we use singular verb provides, the relative clause will become related to term, giving a sense that the term provides ship-positioning. If plural verb is used, the correct sense (that satellite navigation systems provide ship-positioning) is given. Thus, the second sentence is correct.
  5. (a): creating images on rock is the art form the sentence is talking about. This noun must be the antecedent for the pronoun. Thus, the second sentence is correct.




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