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Source: Official Guide for the GMAT 13th Ed. Sentence Correction; #93 Official Guide for the GMAT 2015 14th Ed. Sentence Correction; #93


Nobody knows exactly how many languages there

Nobody knows exactly how many languages there are in the world, partly because of the difficulty of distinguishing between a language and the sublanguages or dialects within it, but those who have tried to count typically have found about five thousand.

6 Explanations



Hi experts,

I understand that choice A is correct and the best best among the answer choices presented. However, I want to understand the usage of "THOSE" in choice A

(*but THOSE who have tried to count typically have found about five thousand*)

It technically refers to people who tried to count I believe. But The people doesn't exist in the sentence. Is it permissible for a demonstrative pronoun to exist without any proper antecedent in the sentence?

Thanks much in advance!


Jul 12, 2018 • Comment

David Recine

Hi Sushil,

Great question! You're correct that in most cases, "those" must be preceded by an antecedent in a sentence. However, there is an exception. In GMAT SC (and in English in general), the demonstrative pronouns "that" and "those" can be used to introduce a relative clause, without actually using the noun that is being restricted and described by the relative clause. Instead, the noun is simply implied, but not directly stated.

So for example, in this sentence, "those who have tried" really means "those people who have tried."

Or, to give a few other examples, you could say "That which is sweet, I will eat for dessert" (meaning "that food which is sweet...") or "those who did their homework got a passing grade" (meaning "those students who did their homework").

This pattern actually works for any of the pronouns "he," "she," and "they" as well. You can say "they who have tried to lift that heavy stone have failed," or "he who sleeps on the floor does not rest well," or "she who marries young may also get divorced young."

So the pronoun+(unstated noun)+relative clause pattern is one you'll want to look out for. They who are aware of this pattern excel in GMAT SC. ;)

Jul 14, 2018 • Reply


Patrick Pecson

Hi! Are there any other words that follow the "try" + Gerund rule?

Sep 22, 2017 • Comment


Hi Patrick,

We don't have a list of verbs that are followed by gerunds colloquially but which should not be on the GMAT. I'm sorry about that! That said, there is a good list that can help here:

Sep 22, 2017 • Reply


Bilal Farooq

Mike, I didnt get the explanation about the use of 'it' vs 'them' in this sentence. Are we using 'it' because 'language' is singular? The sentence doesnt sound right to me if we use it which is obviously a wrong strategy to go by ear.

Aug 14, 2015 • Comment

Sam Kinsman

Hi Bilal, that's right! The pronoun "it" is referring to "a language," which is a singular noun. It wouldn't be correct to use "them," since this a plural pronoun.

Oct 1, 2015 • Reply

Sunny Mantri

Yes, that is correct, however from the intended meaning of the sentence what the author is try to covey ( I believe) is that its difficult to differentiate between language and sub languages and the dailects within the sub lanuages. Although, I pick because its by far the best answer.

Nov 20, 2016 • Reply


Hi Sunny,

Not quite — the intended meaning is that it's hard to distinguish between (1) a language and (2) the sub-languages OR dialects. Both dialects and sub-languages are contained within the (1) language, so we're distinguishing between the language itself and its sub-languages + dialects.

Nov 20, 2016 • Reply


Arun Prakash

Hello ,
I think try can be used along with gerund. Taking for example; I tried opening the door.Please clarify on this.Besides in option C, it refers to "languages" so it must be plural. Please look into this

Jun 24, 2015 • Comment

Jonathan , Magoosh Tutor

Arun, what Mike is saying is that "try + gerund" is common in colloquial English, but "try + infinitive" is preferred on the GMAT.

You're right that we can eliminate (C) because "it" is incorrect.

Jun 29, 2015 • Reply


Gravatar Mike McGarry, Magoosh Tutor

May 23, 2013 • Comment


Naren Sitham

Great explanation!

Jun 26, 2013 • Comment

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