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Logical comparison | Worked example

Watch David work through a logical comparison question from the Praxis Core Writing test.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] Unlike other fruits, the juice of pineapples contains enzymes that break down proteins, which can lead to a raw, irritated feeling in the mouth if too much pineapple is consumed in one sitting. All right, so this is an error ID question. We've got these five different underlines. And the first thing that actually stands out to me is pineapples contains, and so what I wanna do... I know this isn't the first option, but I want to just check on this one because I want to see what... Ask what is doing the containing because it looks like here's this plural subject, and here's this singular verb. And so that doesn't seem to go together, but if I bounce back in the sentence, it's actually the juice of pineapples contains. So this is singular, and the verb it takes is singular. The juice contains, right. We can take out this prepositional phrase because what's actually taking the verb is juice, so contains is fine. Bouncing back to the first one, unlike other fruits. This is setting up a comparison. I want to see what it's comparing to, so unlike other fruits, the juice of pineapples... And that's a little weird because it's comparing other... It's comparing fruits to juice, and juice is not a fruit. Pineapples are a fruit. But as we've just established by this contains thing, the thing that we're talking about is not pineapples but pineapple juice. I think this is our error, but we'll come back to it. Let's move through the rest of the options and see what they look like. All right, we've got break down proteins. Break down. What's doing the breaking? Enzymes. This is a plural noun. This is a plural conjugation. I know it's very strange that there's an S at the end of this plural thing and no S at the end of this plural verb conjugation. That's just a weird and frustrating thing about English. The opposite is true of juice and contains, right. We've got an S at the end of the singular verb conjugation and no S at the end of juice. I recognize it's very weird. It feels like it should be the other way around. That's just a confusing, unnecessary thing about English. If that is something that you struggle with, I empathize. It's very frustrating, but break down is correct. It's exhibiting correct conjugation. The phrase to break down as in to like break apart. Down is an appropriately used, conventional preposition to pair with break, so that's not an error either. And then we've got which can lead to, which is referring back to basically the breaking down of proteins, and we've got this comma here, which isn't underlined, which is good because that tells us which... The word which usually follows commas. What this whole thing here that I'm underlining, that I'm bracketing in red, is a relative clause, and that's set off by which, which is appropriately following a comma. So I'm gonna say this is not an error, which leads us either with no error or unlike other fruits. I'm gonna clean this up real quick. 'Cause we've used process of elimination to get rid of everything else, and so now the question is, you know, these two combatants squaring off: unlike other fruits versus no error. Because there certainly are plenty of questions on practice writing that have no error, but what I want to get at here is the comparison that this is making 'cause it's comparing fruits to juice, and to me that's a faulty comparison. When you're making comparisons, you want to compare pineapples to pears or whatever you don't... But what this is doing is it's not comparing other fruits to pineapples. It's actually comparing other fruits to a glass of juice, and a glass of juice is not the same thing as a fruit. It's not in the same category. A better example might be to compare two more obviously disparate categories. Right? Unlike other countries, adults in Lesotho have colorful woolen blankets. And I know this isn't true. Obviously, many other people around the world have beautiful blankets. These are called Basotho blankets. Look them up. They're very lovely. But what this sentence is doing, it's incorrectly comparing countries to adults in Lesotho. Right? Adults in Lesotho are not countries. Lesotho is a country, but that's not the comparison that this sentence is making. Now, if we were to fix this sentence, we would say, unlike those in other countries, adults in Lesotho have colorful woolen blankets. So this is basically the same thing, right? This is a category error, so it's, again, wrongfully claiming that the juice of pineapples is a type of fruit, whereas it is a thing that can be done with fruit but is not itself a fruit. So I'm gonna say no to no error, and say that unlike other fruits is our error.