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 Post subject: Verbal: pronouns and idiom usage.
PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:29 pm 
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Professor Wendham denied his teaching assistant's request to allow students to turn in their papers in handwritten form instead of to type them up using a computer.

A. to allow students to turn in their papers in handwritten form instead of to type them up using
B. that would have allowed students to turn in their papers in handwritten form instead of typed up
C. according to which students are allowed to turn in their papers in handwritten form instead of typing them up using
D. that would allow students to turn in their papers in handwritten form rather than typing them up with the use of
E. to allow students to turn in their papers in handwritten form rather than type them up using

(E) This question tests pronouns and idiom usage.

In the original sentence, the pronoun "them" could refer either to the students' papers, or to the students themselves.

In choice (B), the past participle "would have allowed" is used instead to the infinitive "to allow"; in addition, it is missing the word "using" preceding a computer ("type them up a computer" makes no sense).

Choice (C) violates the rules of parallelism by replacing "to type" with "typing" ; "according to which" is also awkward and wordy.

Choice (D) contains the same violation of parallelism as choice (C), and the phrases "that would allow" and "with the use of" are excessively wordy ("to allow" and "using" are perfectly sufficient and more succinct).

Choice (E) is concise, and contains no idiom or pronoun errors; the phrase "rather than type them up" maintains parallelism with "to turn in their papers" because the to preceding "type" is understood.

(E) is the best choice.
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Hi, just a quick question... Is "them" not ambigious here?


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 Post subject: Re: Verbal: pronouns and idiom usage.
PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:48 pm 
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No, because "typing the students up" (what you get if you substitute the other potential referent, "the students", for the pronoun in question) doesn't mean anything. The idiom "to type up" is only used in connection with documents/the written word/things that can be typed on a typewriter or computer: in this case, the students' papers. So, the referent of the pronoun "them" can't be a person or group of people in this specific case.

For the GMAT, at least, there is no ambiguity if substituting the other potential referent for the pronoun results in meaninglessness or an absurd meaning.


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