Lesson: Modifiers - Part III - "that" vs. "which"

Comment on Modifiers - Part III - "that" vs. "which"

very good; i love you raja. very very helpful and in a way that can be remembered easily

Soooooo helpful!!! Thank you guys!

1 A.The Car that is small is more economical to drive.
1 B.The car which is small is more economical to drive

2A The man that lives next door is a marathon runner.
2B Jack Trainer, who lives next door, is a marathon runner.

Is 1A and 2B right.
gmat-admin's picture

Given the right context, 1A and 1B can both be correct. However, 1B needs some commas (as in "The car, which is small, is more economical to drive")

1B is fine if it is already 100% clear which car we are talking about.

2B is fine, but for 2A, we should use "who" (for more on this see https://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/gmat-sentence-correction/video/1164)

Dear Brent,
Could you please help me with this question, this is from OG:
By developing the Secure Digital Music Initiative, the recording industry associations of North America, Japan, and Europe hope to create a standardized way of distributing songs and full-length recordings on the Internet that will protect copyright holders and foil the many audio pirates who copy and distribute digital music illegally.
(A) of distributing songs and full-length recordings on the Internet that will protect copyright holders and foil the many audio pirates who copy and distribute
(B) of distributing songs and full-length recordings on the Internet and to protect copyright holders and foiling the many audio pirates copying and distributing
(C) for distributing songs and full-length recordings on the Internet while it protects copyright holders and foils the many audio pirates who copy and distribute
(D) to distribute songs and full-length recordings on the Internet while they will protect copyright holders and foil the many audio pirates copying and distributing
(E) to distribute songs and full-length recordings on the Internet and it will protect copyright holders and foiling the many audio pirates who copy and distribute
gmat-admin's picture

There's a great (detailed) discussion of this question here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/by-developing-the-secure-digital-music-initia...

Love this so much!!

I finally know the difference.

Brent,
Can you please give your analysis of this question?
https://gmatclub.com/forum/australian-embryologists-have-found-evidence-that-suggests-84981.html

I narrowed it down to A & E. However since the word evidence is both singular and plural, I had trouble choosing the right answer. Morever, is the restrictive clause 'that' correctly used in A? Where did I go wrong?
gmat-admin's picture

Mitch (aka GMATGuruNY) provides a nice analysis here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/australian-embryologists-have-found-evidence-...

Also, Ceilidh and Ron have nice comment here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/need-help-to-understand-parallelism-t249154.html

If you'd like more help, let me know.

Hi Brent,

In question at below link ans choice E uses "that", I eliminated this option as we used when with time. Please let me know why I was wrong, in this case.


https://gmatclub.com/forum/although-various-eighteenth-and-nineteenth-century-american-88063.html


ans choice E) it was not until almost 1900 that scholars and critics seriously began studying


Also I am struggling with place of only, almost, etc. Any rule to get it right?
gmat-admin's picture

The issues with this question are more about tense and modifiers than about that vs when.

Given your remarks, I'm assuming that you liked answer choice D)...it was not almost until 1900

ALMOST can be thought of as NOT QUITE or VERY NEARLY

So, in the sentence, the intent of the word ALMOST is to say that the timeframe is sometime just before 1900 (say 1897)

In answer choice D, the word NOT is negating the word ALMOST. In other words, this construction is saying that the timeframe is NOT ALMOST 1900. In other words, the timeframe is something other than the period just before 1900.

Answer choice E says "it was not until almost 1900 that scholars and critics seriously began studying"

Here ALMOST is next to the word it is modifying (1900). Also, NOT is correctly positioned to let us know that UNTIL 1900-ish, it was NOT the case that scholars and critics seriously began studying.

Does that help?

Cheers,
Brent

Why can you not say "Hal bought a new radio for his car that it always tuned to classic rock." or "Hal bought for his car a new radio that is always tuned to classic rock."? I realize saying this out loud sounds awkward, but what is the reasoning?
gmat-admin's picture

"Hal bought a new radio for his car that it always tuned to classic rock" suggests that the CAR is always tuned to classic rock,

"Hal bought for his car a new radio that is always tuned to classic rock" is fine.

As I mention in the video, the GMAT will not have questions that hinge solely on THAT vs WHICH.

Cheers,
Brent

Hi Brent,

I would like to know if the touch rule applies here.

"Hal bought a new radio for his car, which is always tuned to classic rock"

Could we assume that the prepositional phrase 'for his car' is vital noun modifier?
gmat-admin's picture

That's correct; FOR HIS CAR is a vital noun modifier.

Thanks for confirming. So then the sentence construction should be correct right ? ( the exception to the touch rule should apply here.)

Im asking this because in your video you said that this sentence was incorrect because of the construction.
gmat-admin's picture

Great question!

While there are exceptions to the touch rule, those exceptions still need to adhere to other grammatical rules.
One of those rules is that a non-restrictive clause beginning with WHICH must immediately follow the noun it is modifying. So, although FOR HIS CAR may be a vital noun modifier, it makes no sense for "always tuned to classic rock" to modify CAR.

Does that help?

Cheers,
Brent

Yes it does. Thank you!

Gina avoids sitting in the chairs,that don't have cushions (1:38) ...since chairs is non people that is correct..
So we can choose that over which. Is this correct?
gmat-admin's picture

Hi prakap,

I think that you're applying a different rule here. On the GMAT, we use WHO if we are referring to a person. For example, writing "I avoid speaking to people WHO don't have an MBA" is preferable to writing "I avoid speaking to people THAT (or WHICH) don't have an MBA"

However, when it comes down to WHICH vs THAT, we need to determine whether we wish to RESTRICT the topic of conversation (in which case we use THAT).

If we write "Gina avoids sitting in chairs THAT don't have cushions," then we are restricting the topic of conversation. That is, out of all of many many chairs in the world, Gina avoids sitting in the specific chairs that don't have cushions.

Conversely, if we write "Gina avoids sitting in chairs, WHICH don't have cushions," then we are NOT restricting the topic of conversation. That is, Gina avoids sitting on ALL chairs......and, by the way, ALL chairs have cushions.

Does that help?

Cheers,
Brent

Hi Brent,

Q : https://gmatclub.com/forum/the-151-member-governments-of-the-world-bank-are-expected-to-111361.html

I am unable to understand why D is incorrect. The appositive phrase "an obstacle to Congressional passage" modifies the noun "concern". We know that while reading the core of any sentence we may ignore appositive phrase(fluff). So I read the portion of the sentence as "the concern,blah blah,that the bank's loan..." Isn't this same as reading "the concern that the bank's loan..."

Thanks & Regards,
Abhirup
gmat-admin's picture

Question link: https://gmatclub.com/forum/the-151-member-governments-of-the-world-bank-...

Super tough question!

The 151 member governments of the World Bank are expected to increase the bank’s funding by $175 billion, though some United States legislators cite an obstacle to Congressional passage being the concern that the bank’s loans will help foreign producers compete with American businesses.
(C) as an obstacle to Congressional passage the concern
(D) the concern, an obstacle to Congressional passage,

In most cases, modifiers should be as close as possible to their referent.

WE can see that THE BANK'S LOANS WILL HELP FOREIGN PRODUCERS COMPETE is intended to modify CONCERN.
What kind of CONCERN?
the concern that THE BANK'S LOANS WILL HELP FOREIGN PRODUCERS COMPETE.

In answer choice D, the modifier THE BANK'S LOANS WILL HELP FOREIGN PRODUCERS COMPETE is placed unnecessarily far from CONCERN

There's also a problem with the intended meaning of the sentence.
As you mentioned, we should be able to ignore the appositive phrase, and the meaning of the sentence should remain intact.
Here the sentence is trying to convey the idea that the bank's funding increase faces an OBSTACLE.

However, when we ignore the fluff with answer choice D, we get: The 151 member governments of the World Bank are expected to increase the bank’s funding by $175 billion, though some United States legislators cite the concern that the bank’s loans will help foreign producers compete with American businesses.

So, with answer choice D, the sentence's intended meaning is altered.

Does that help?

Cheers,
Brent

Thanks Brent for that explanation. I have few follow-up queries.
1.Can "that" refer to a noun/noun phrase inside an appositive phrase? E.g. in D can "that" refer to obstacle/passage provided what comes after "that" actually provides some information about obstacle/passage.

2.Can we generalize and say "that" can never refer to any noun before an appositive phrase(non-essential modifier) as the relative clause needs to be placed as close to the noun as possible?

Regards,
Abhirup
gmat-admin's picture

Hi Abhirup,

1) I can't think of an example in which THAT refers to a noun/noun phrase inside an appositive phrase.
Also, the phrase "that the bank’s loans will help foreign producers compete with American businesses" modifies CONCERN.

What kind of CONCERN?
The CONCERN that the bank’s loans will help foreign producers compete with American businesses.

2) Are you referring to a situation in which the THAT clause appears AFTER the appositive phrase, yet THAT refers to a noun that appears BEFORE the appositive phrase? If so, then I agree with that generalization.

Cheers,
Brent

Yes Brent I was referring to that situation itself just like the one we saw in D.
Thanks for your inputs!

At 6:10
The 3rd rule (of ‘which’) is also applicable to ‘that’? That ‘that’ being a noun modifier must be placed closest to the noun it modifies, exactly as it is in the case of ‘which’?
gmat-admin's picture

You are correct.
A restrictive clause beginning with THAT must be closest to the noun it modifies.

Cheers,
Brent

Brent (first off, your videos are incredible),

Question - is "that" also a noun modifier only, like "which" is? Or can "that" also be a verb modifier or a noun/subject?

Thanks!
gmat-admin's picture

Great question! A relative clause beginning with THAT will be always function as a noun modifier.

Cheers,
Brent
PS: Thanks for the kind words about my course!

Hey Brent,

on page 681 of the OG guide 2019 it states

"Which/that: Some American publishers have adopted the convention that which, used as a relative
pronoun, should always be nonrestrictive and should be replaced with that in restrictive contexts (as
in "laws which have been repealed are no longer enforced" versus "laws that have been repealed are
no longer enforced"). You should not expect to see questions for which the deciding factor is merely
whether the writer adheres to this convention."

Do you still think the restrictive that/which is important?
gmat-admin's picture

It's still useful to know when to use WHICH and when to use THAT. However, as I mention in the above video (at 5:23), you won't encounter an SC question, in which the sole deciding factor is THAT versus WHICH.

Hi Brent,

Could you please explain why C is incorrect and why B is correct?

Because there are provisions of the new maritime code that provide that even tiny islets can be the basis for claims to the fisheries and oil fields of large sea areas, they have already stimulated international disputes over uninhabited islands.


(A) Because there are provisions of the new maritime code that provide that even tiny islets can be the basis for claims to the fisheries and oil fields of large sea areas, they have already stimulated

(B) Because the new maritime code provides that even tiny islets can be the basis for claims to the fisheries and oil fields of large sea areas, it has already stimulated

(C) Even tiny islets can be the basis for claims to the fisheries and oil fields of large sea areas under provisions of the new maritime code, already stimulating

(D) Because even tiny islets can be the basis for claims to the fisheries and oil fields of large sea areas under provisions of the new maritime code, this has already stimulated

(E) Because even tiny islets can be the basis for claims to the fisheries and oil fields of large sea areas under provisions of the new maritime code, which is already stimulating


Thank you in advance,
gmat-admin's picture

Question link: https://gmatclub.com/forum/because-there-are-provisions-of-the-new-marit...

(C) Even tiny islets can be the basis for claims to the fisheries and oil fields of large sea areas under provisions of the new maritime code, ALREADY STIMULATING international disputes over uninhabited islands.

Here, STIMULATING appears to refer to the ISLETS (the subject of the opening clause).
Since islets can't stimulate international disputes, we can eliminate C.

Cheers,
Brent

Makes sense,

Thank you for the explanation,

Hi Brent, on the GMAT, can we assume that there's only one Alcatraz prison in the world? Thanks!
gmat-admin's picture

You can rest assured that the GMAT would never have a Sentence Correction question that hinged on prison knowledge :-)

In the last example "Hal bought for his car a new radio, which is tuned to classic rock" - why aren't we using "that" instead of "which", given it's restricting information and brings clarity about what the radio is tuned to?
gmat-admin's picture

Great question!

Sentence: "Hal bought for his car a new radio, WHICH is tuned to classic rock"

Let's stop when we get to the comma: "Hal bought for his car a new radio,"
At this point, is it clear which RADIO we're talking about?
Some people will answer YES, because we're talking about HAL'S new radio. In this case, we would use WHICH.
Some people will answer NO, since it's possible that Hal bought several new radios, and we need to restrict the topic of discussion to the one radio that's tuned to classic rock.
There's really no correct answer here, and as I mention in the above video, the GMAT will never have a Sentence Correction question in which everything hinges on the use of THAT vs WHICH.

The important thing to recognize here is that the sentence ""Hal bought a new radio for his car, WHICH is always tuned to classic rock" is incorrect because a non-restrictive clause beginning with WHICH must immediately follow the noun it's modifying, and it makes no sense for "always tuned to classic rock" to modify CAR.

Does that help>

Cheers,
Brent

Perfectly clear on the point around the non-restrictive clause Brent!

My question is more to the first point about the sentence "Hal bought for his car a new radio, WHICH is tuned to classic rock".
Even if we're referring to Hal's new radio, doesn't the phrase "is tuned to classic rock" provide more information and clarity about the specific radio? And should be used with "that" instead of "which"?"Hal bought for his car a new radio, THAT is tuned to classic rock". certainly 'sounds' incorrect to me but keen on understanding why it shouldn't be the right answer since it provides additional information about the radio. Let me know if that makes sense!
gmat-admin's picture

Let's consider these two possible sentences:

1) Hal bought for his car a new radio THAT is tuned to classic rock
2) Hal bought for his car a new radio, WHICH is tuned to classic rock

Either one of these sentences can be correct, depending on the context.

Sentence #1 can be correct if it's the case that Hal bought several new radios (e.g., one for his car, one for his office, one for the bathroom, etc.) and, out of all those new radios, the one he bought for his car is tuned to classic rock. Here, the word THAT narrows the topic of discussion down to the one radio that is tuned to classic rock.

Sentence #2 can be correct if it's the case that Hal bought one radio (which means the topic of discussion is already fixed once we mention "new radios"), and that new radio is tuned to classic rock.

Here's a similar example. Consider these two sentences:
1) Jane loves the Mona Lisa painting THAT hangs in the Louvre.
2) Jane loves the Mona Lisa painting, WHICH hangs in the Louvre.
Once again, it's possible for each of these sentences to be correct.

Sentence #1 can be correct if it's the case that there are several paintings in the world called the "Mona Lisa", and out of all those different Mona Lisa paintings, Jane loves the one THAT hangs in the Louvre. In this case, once we get to "Mona Lisa painting," the topic of discussion it's still unclear. So, "THAT hangs in the Louvre" is required to narrow the topic of discussion down to just one painting.

Sentence #2 can be correct if it's the case that only one painting in the world is called the "Mona Lisa." in this case, once we get to "Mona Lisa painting," the topic of discussion is 100% clear. So, we use non-restrictive WHICH.

Does that help?

Makes sense, thanks!

Hi Brent,

https://gmatclub.com/forum/in-the-major-cities-of-industrialized-countries-at-the-end-of-the-nine-136124.html

In this question, the correct answer 'A' uses a where to modify homes.

But ist the meaning of this sentence incorrect as it says that - electricity was in less than 1% of homes and these same home are using candles and gas for lighting.


why would you use candles if you have electricity, the meaning should be 'others homes are still using candles for lighting'

Hope my question makes sense, thank you!
gmat-admin's picture

Question link: https://gmatclub.com/forum/in-the-major-cities-of-industrialized-countri...

(A) In the major cities of industrialized countries at the end of the nineteenth century, important public places such as theaters, restaurants, shops, and banks had installed electric lighting, but electricity was in less than one percent of homes, where lighting was still provided mainly by candles or gas.

In the sentence, "where lighting was still provided mainly by candles or gas" modifies HOMES.
However, HOMES refers to ALL homes (i.e., homes with electric lighting, candle lighting, or gas lighting), not just homes with electric lighting.
Since less than 1% of the homes had electric lighting, more than 99% of the homes had candle lighting or gas lighting.
So it's correct to say, "where lighting was still provided MAINLY by candles or gas"

Does that help?

Yes, Thank you!

Hi Brent,

https://gmatclub.com/forum/declining-values-for-farm-equipment-and-land-the-collateral-against-128648.html

In this question, I am really confused between option D and E.

Can 'which' modify 2 nouns, and how is E a better choice?

Thanks,
Erik
gmat-admin's picture

Question link: https://gmatclub.com/forum/declining-values-for-farm-equipment-and-land-...
This is a very tricky question.

Let's focus on the placement of the preposition AGAINST.

(E) Declining values for farm equipment and land, the COLLATERAL AGAINST which farmers borrow to get through the harvest season, are
Here, AGAINST starts a prepositional phrase (AGAINST which farmers borrow to get through the harvest season) correctly modifies COLLATERAL (Q: What kind of collateral? A: The collateral against which farmers borrow money. This makes sense)

(D) Declining values for farm equipment and land, which farmers use as collateral to borrow AGAINST to get through the harvest season, are
Here, AGAINST starts a prepositional phrase (AGAINST to get through the harvest season), which incorrectly modifies BORROW (Q: How do farmers borrow? A: AGAINST to get through the harvest season?)

Does that help?

Cheers,
Brent

Thank you!

Hi Brent,

I am having a hard time understanding the structure & meaning of this sentence

https://gmatclub.com/forum/from-the-bark-of-the-paper-birch-tree-the-menomini-crafted-a-canoe-abo-103379.html

please help.

Thanks,
Erik
gmat-admin's picture

Question link: https://gmatclub.com/forum/from-the-bark-of-the-paper-birch-tree-the-men...

The primary intent of the sentence is to explain that the canoe has two characteristics:
1) It could carry a lot of weight (4 people or 800 pounds)
2) It was light (light enough for 1 person to carry it)

If we ignore some of the "fluff," the general structure is as follows:
The Menomini crafted a canoe, which could carry a lot of stuff yet was so light that a person could easily carry it.

Does that help?

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