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I'm an English learner struggling to decipher the following sentence:

To a medical student the final examinations are something like death: an unpleasant inevitability to be faced sooner or later, one's state after which is determined by care spent in preparing for the event.

My question is, what does the which in one's state after which refer to?

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It refers to "an unpleasant inevitability to be faced sooner or later", which of course refers to the event of the final examinations and to death, but the structure of the sentence directs the relative pronoun to that longer bit.

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It refers to death, and, because they are compared to death, indirectly to final examinations as well. the event refers to the same as well.

You can verify by substitution: do the following sentences make sense, and would the author agree?

  • One's state after death is determined by care spent in preparing for the event.
  • One's state after final examinations is determined by care spent in preparing for the event.

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