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  1. Unregistered
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    #1

    EnglishLearner

    Dear UsingEnglish.com Teacher,

    I was wondering if "which" can be used to refer to the whole sentence.

    For example: "These data support vaccination of kids in this region, which is expected to greatly reduce the burden of the disease".

    In my opinion, the sentence above should not use "which". Because then it will create this confusion that "which" is used to describe "region". What "which" is really trying to describe is the whole sentence - the practice of vaccination. But grammar rules don't allow "which" to refer to the whole sentence.

    Is my understanding correct ?

    Thanks a lot !
    Shuang

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    #2

    Re: EnglishLearner

    Which can comment on the whole of the main clause :
    I have never met Di Caprio, which is a pity.

  2. monty python's Avatar

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    #3

    Re: EnglishLearner

    I'm just a learner, so I can't be really sure- but my feeling is you should add a "something" before "which", in order to maintain "vaccination" as the logical subject of the second clause...

    "These data support vaccination of kids in this region,something
    which is expected to greatly reduce the burden of the disease".

    Does it work? :)

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: EnglishLearner

    It's okay, and logic tells you that you mean the vaccination is the antecedant for "which," but you could also do a tiny rewrite.
    These data support vaccination of kids in this region, a program that is expected to ...

    -- I'm a writer, not a teacher


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    #5

    Re: EnglishLearner

    Quote Originally Posted by CHOMAT View Post
    Which can comment on the whole of the main clause :
    I have never met Di Caprio, which is a pity.
    Thank you, CHOMAT, for your response !

    I thought so before, but as far as I remember, ETS (Educational Testing Services, which administers TOEFL, GRE, GMAt and etc) doesn't agree. It says clearly in its test preparation materials that "which" can only be used to describe a noun.


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    #6

    Re: EnglishLearner

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    It's okay, and logic tells you that you mean the vaccination is the antecedant for "which," but you could also do a tiny rewrite.
    These data support vaccination of kids in this region, a program that is expected to ...

    -- I'm a writer, not a teacher
    Thank you Barb_D !

    I totally agree with you. By common sense, almost everyone understands it. I just studied too hard on those ETS (Educational Testing Services, which administers TOEFL, GRE, GMAT and etc.) grammar books.


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    #7

    Re: EnglishLearner

    Quote Originally Posted by monty python View Post
    I'm just a learner, so I can't be really sure- but my feeling is you should add a "something" before "which", in order to maintain "vaccination" as the logical subject of the second clause...

    "These data support vaccination of kids in this region,something
    which is expected to greatly reduce the burden of the disease".

    Does it work? :)
    Thanks ! I totally agree with you. This way it is more like formal English, although a little bit wordy.

  4. bianca's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: EnglishLearner

    Quote Originally Posted by shuanglu View Post
    Thank you, CHOMAT, for your response !

    I thought so before, but as far as I remember, ETS (Educational Testing Services, which administers TOEFL, GRE, GMAt and etc) doesn't agree. It says clearly in its test preparation materials that "which" can only be used to describe a noun.
    this is, however, wrong. Which is no doubt sometimes used to refer to an entire sentence or clause, only when it is preceded by that sentence or clause, as in Chomat's example or in ex. She ignored him, which proved to be unwise. Are you sure about the alledged disagreement?
    To disambiguate your sentence, I agree with Barb_D's suggestion.
    Last edited by bianca; 21-Jun-2007 at 16:56.


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    #9

    Re: EnglishLearner

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca View Post
    this is, however, wrong. Which is no doubt sometimes used to refer to an entire sentence or clause, only when it is preceded by that sentence or clause, as in Chomat's example or in ex. She ignored him, which proved to be unwise. Are you sure about the alleged disagreement?
    I am not sure now....I learned my English grammar back in China long time ago. Since I started to prepare for GMAT, I have been using ETS' test preparation books as my only resource of formal grammar rules.

    See this example from my "GMAT Official Guide, 10th Edition" published by ETS.

    ----------------------------------------------
    38. Scientists have observed large concentrations of heavy-metal deposits in the upper twenty centimeters of Baltic Sea sediments, which are consistent with the growth of industrial activity there.

    (A) Baltic Sea sediments, which are consistent with the growth of industrial activity there
    (B) Baltic Sea sediments, where the growth of industrial activity is consistent with these findings
    (C) Baltic Sea sediments, findings consistent with its growth of industrial activity
    (D) sediments from the Baltic Sea, findings consistent with the growth of industrial activity in the area
    (E) sediments from the Baltic Sea, consistent with the growth of industrial activity there

    And this is ETS's "official" answer:

    All of the choices but D contain ambiguities. In A and B the words which and where appear to refer to sediments, and in E it is not clear what consistent describes. In A, C, and E, there is no logical place to which there or its could refer. In D, the best choice, the phrase sediments from the Baltic Sea tells where the sediments originate, findings provides a noun for consistent to modify, and in the area clearly identifies where the industrial activity is growing.
    ------------------------------------------



  5. bianca's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: EnglishLearner

    There you have the answer. 'Which' refers to the content in the preceding clause, i.e. the large concentrations of heavy-metal deposits, not to the preceding noun 'sediments'. Besides, 'which' can't possibly refer to the sea sediments, since the upper twenty centimeters of Baltic Sea sediments may have taken millions of years to build. The industrial activity has only lasted hundreds of years.
    The ambiguity can be avoided with paraphrases such as 'findings consistent with'...
    Last edited by bianca; 21-Jun-2007 at 18:02.

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