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

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.

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