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This is an SAT question. I was unable to choose between answers C and D, so I wonder what is wrong with answer C?

Why can't "which" be used, though it also creates a dependent clause?

  • Should be transferred to ELL. – VTH Jul 29 '18 at 12:56
  • Disagree about the transfer. This is a usage question on verb tense agreement, not someone asking us to help them translate a concept or explain a word to them. – JKreft Jul 29 '18 at 13:14
  • After consideration, I do have to agree. This question is quite a bit more complex than meets the eye, and will surely provide some excellent discussion. The original comment will stay for the sake of continuity. – VTH Jul 29 '18 at 13:26

"They wanted X which were placed high" is a tense problem, not a "which" problem. It swaps from "future in the past" (They wanted X) to past "which were placed".

Correct options would be "They wanted X placed high", "They wanted X to be placed high", "They wanted X, which were to be placed high", or "They wanted X, which would be placed high".

Edit: Similarly, A) is wrong because "placing" is present tense and doesn't match "they wanted", which is past tense, and requires the "to place" tense to either be past or "future in the past".

  • Oh I see, so if they wanted something, it cannot be identified to be there already, which is what "which" seems to be implying? – LHC2012 Jul 29 '18 at 14:04
  • Also, looking back on the question, though A) seems to be in the wrong tense, I cannot exactly explain why it is wrong, is it possible that you explain that? Thank you very much! – LHC2012 Jul 29 '18 at 14:08
  • I'm not convinced that there isn't a case for (c) too: 'They wanted a series of statues, which [in those days] were placed high on buttresses so the art could be admired from afar. – S Conroy Jul 29 '18 at 14:45
  • I think your example would work, but the [in those days] (or equivalent) would not be optional. It changes the nature of the clause. – JKreft Jul 29 '18 at 14:47
  • I don't mean writing it, but interpreting the sentence in that way. e.g. They wanted a series of XYZ computers, which were produced in Germany and the US. – S Conroy Jul 29 '18 at 14:58

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