The toxic level of water bottles isn't apparent to most people because they assume its/their plastic content is harmless.

The book from which I found this question says water bottles are the subject, but I think that toxic level is the subject. Hence, the correct answer should be its, not their.

Am I right?

  • 1
    You are correct that "toxic level" is the subject of the verb "isn't". However, the antecedent of "their" is "water bottles", and "their plastic content" is the subject of the predicate "is harmless", and the entire predicate "their plastic content is harmless" is the complement of the verb "assume". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 16 '18 at 13:16

The main component of the subject is "the toxic level" (the whole subject is the noun phrase "The toxic level of water bottles"), however, there cannot be a "plastic content of a toxic level". The possessive pronoun in the subordinate clause need not necessarily be attached to the subject or the main component of the subject. In this case, the correct pronoun is "their".

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