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3 containers A B C contain water, milk and acid respectively in equal quantities. 10% of the content of A is taken out and poured to B. Then same amount from B is transferred to C reference: a mathematics question in careerbless

How do you interpret this statement? For me, this can be read in any of the two ways as follows.

10% of the content of A is poured to B

10% of the content of B is then poured to C

or

10% of the content of A (say it amounts to x litre) is poured to B

x litre content of B is then poured to C

Please help.

Note: This was asked in an exam and answer was 1/121 as solved in the site mentioned (i.e., answer was in accordance with the second interpretation). But I find the question confusing.

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  • I choose the third meaning. But it is clear that the writer is not a native speaker of English.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 17:41
  • I agree that the question is not clear. I interpreted "same amount" as referring to 10%, since that is the only amount mentioned. If the intention is to refer to the specific quantity measured in liters, then it is a poorly worded question. Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 17:42
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    10% is not semantically an amount. If 10% of the water is 100g, then 100g of the diluted milk is next transferred to C. The uncertainties involved are (1)whether amounts are being measured by mass or by volume, and (2) whether (if volumes are chosen) there is negligible contraction on mixing. Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 18:40
  • @GEdgar You haven't known the maths teachers I have. Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 18:56

1 Answer 1

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I do not find it confusing. If they meant 10% from B, they would have mentioned it as same proportion/percentage/fraction instead of same amount.

The mathematics question in question (excuse the pun) is likely designed to alert the student to such nuances. I can say this from my experience answering such math questions back in school.

I do, however, acknowledge that it may not be 100% grammatically accurate; for example, they should have perhaps used "similar" instead of "same" and "quantity/volume" instead of "amount".

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  • The mathematics question in question is almost certainly not designed to alert the student to such nuances. I can say this from my experience in moderation meetings dealing with such maths questions when I taught. It is a carelessly set question, testing English nuances rather than purely the maths it should be testing. (There was even one question where students were supposed to guess that a 'flat roof' was being used in the building (= horizontal) rather than maths (= planar) sense!) Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 18:54
  • I agree with your interpretation and answer, but not with your final paragraph: similar would be too vague; amount is correct (once you think about it), and (in this context) means volume (as you imply). You rightly state that amount is different from proportion.
    – TrevorD
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 22:45

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