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While doing my TOEFL prep I encountered the following statement where I am asked to find which of the bold words is being used wrongly in the sentence:

If one has a special medical condition such as diabetes, epilepsy, or allergy, it is advisable that they carry some kind of identification in order to avoid being given improper medication in an emergency.

The bold they and carry should be treated as two words (meaning, only one of them can be wrong, but not both).

I would say being is used wrongly just because when I reread the statement it doesn't sound right, even though most of the time a gerund is used after the erb avoid.

closed as off-topic by snailboat, Edwin Ashworth, anongoodnurse, Chenmunka, Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Aug 11 '15 at 18:51

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  • I'm not going to say medication condition is inherently incorrect. But it's a very unusual choice for a TOEFL context, given there are 175 written instances of special medical conditions in Google Books, but none at all for special medication conditions. Whatever - I find that far more indicative of "non-native speaker" than any of the highlighted words. – FumbleFingers Aug 9 '15 at 14:55
  • @FumbleFingers It is incorrect. Nobody says that. – Centaurus Aug 9 '15 at 14:56
  • @FumbleFingers I've certainly seen medical condition as a collocation. – tchrist Aug 9 '15 at 14:59
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    @Centaurus: As implied, I think "incorrect" is a bit extreme. There are a couple of hundred references to special medication conditions on Google Internet, and I can live with that as meaning "conditions requiring special medication". But that's as against 71,000 instances of special medical conditions – FumbleFingers Aug 9 '15 at 15:00
  • ... beware those who eschew unusual attributive usages. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 9 '15 at 15:25
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Whoever wrote your exam is pretending they is an invalid pronoun to use when the referent is one. They expect you to write the same word each time:

If one has a special medical condition such as diabetes, epilepsy, or allergy, it is advisable that one carry some kind of identification in order to avoid being given improper medication in an emergency.

I wouldn't put much stock in their prescriptive fussiness. They clearly don't care about how people actually speak.

Remember, this is somebody who thinks “it is advisable that one carry” doesn’t sound deathly stuffy. But it does. The normal way to phrase all that mess would be more along these lines:

Anyone with a medical condition like diabetes, epilepsy, or a drug allergy should carry some document or wrist-band identifying that condition so they aren’t accidentally given dangerous medication in an emergency.

  • ... but don't forget your medical card. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 9 '15 at 14:52
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    The confusion is there supposed to be only one mistake and if I call out they as a mistake then carry is not fitting either. it is not referring to the third person. I could be wrong. – Nino Aug 9 '15 at 14:55
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    @Nino: no, if you're American, you should say advisable that he carry because it's subjunctive. – Peter Shor Aug 9 '15 at 15:04
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    @FumbleFingers Plenty of folks of my acquaintance use Can you cash me a check without the least bit of hesitation. I don’t understand why certain people are seized with inexplicable fits of apoplexy over simple indirect-object use. It’s a basic way that English works. This sort of thing is super-common in southern Wisconsin, and it raises no eyebrows here now in Colorado, either. – tchrist Aug 9 '15 at 16:20

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