I came across this question from Grade 10 English test in a Vietnam High School

Question 14. There were two small rooms in the beach house, _______.

A. the smaller of which served as a kitchen

B. the smaller of them was served as a kitchen

C. the smallest of which served as a kitchen

D. smallest of that was served as a kitchen

Both Google Bard (like Google AI) and ChatGPT say "A" is correct

Why is that? I think B is correct.

If A is correct, then what is the grammar point here I need to look at?

  • 4
    Tom, Tom. NEVER check ChatGPT for facts! It's not what it's there for. AAAAAaaaarrrrggghhhh. Jul 29 at 12:49
  • 1
    The problem with B is the passive was served by a kitchen, which does not make sense. If it had said "the smaller of them served as a kitchen", then the minor problem would have been that it needs to be a brand new sentence. Jul 29 at 16:51
  • Note that both "There are two rooms, the smaller of which is red" and "There are two rooms, and the smaller of them is red" are correct; but "There are two rooms, and the smaller of which is red" is incorrect, and "There are two rooms, the smaller of them is red" is perhaps not completely incorrect, but pretty dubious.
    – Stef
    Jul 31 at 21:04

2 Answers 2


'A' is correct. There are numerous grammatical problems with the other options, but it seems to me that the 4 options were meant to represent just 2 key grammar choices.

Firstly, there is a difference in the comparative term used. A and B use 'smaller' while C and D use 'smallest'.

'Smaller' is used when comparing the size of 2 things. 'Smallest' is the superlative, which means it is the 'most small of all', so best used when comparing many things. This rules out options C and D. To be honest, some native English speakers may well use 'smallest' in any comparison, but you've asked why AI told you that one option is right, and that's the obvious reason.

Secondly, the correct answer has to fit into the space after the partially written sentence. Option A completes the sentence as it is a relative clause (using "of which") that provides additional information about the subject and helps differentiate the two rooms based on their sizes. Option B is not constructed this way and it does not fit into the blank space after a comma. It is a clause in its own right so you would need a conjunction instead of the comma, ie "and". Using a comma as a conjunction is incorrect and referred to as a 'comma splice'.

  • 1
    B and D are syntactic garbage anyway, so the only choice is between A (smaller) and C (smallest). Both of which are "valid" - it's just that idiomatically, we prefer the comparative over the superlative when there are only two elements in the set. Jul 29 at 10:10
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    The problem with B is not just the punctuation. The alternative to a comma splice is just to write the second clause as a new sentence. The test makers have not been that cruel. The problem is that the passive was served as a kitchen does not make sense Jul 29 at 12:54
  • @Araucaria-Nothereanymore. The purpose of this site is not to proof-read texts and find errors. Such questions are off-topic. The question boils down to 2 issues - the choice of comparative term, and the choice between the two types of clauses. The fact that some of the incorrect options are badly-written in other ways is out of the scope of the question.
    – Astralbee
    Jul 29 at 16:24
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    Forgive me for being so bold. OP seemed to want to know why B, in particular, was not correct. See both the question and the title. Jul 29 at 16:48

Astralbee's answer is correct, but leaves out a second reason that B is incorrect: that the meaning is nonsense.

Let's start from this paraphrase:

The smaller of the two rooms was served as a kitchen.

Reworded from passive voice to active voice it looks like this:

Someone or something served the two rooms as a kitchen.

This is meaningless. You cannot serve a room as a kitchen. The room itself serves as kitchen.

  • "The smaller of the two rooms was served by a kitchen" would be fine, but means something different (roughly, that there was a kitchen attached to the smaller room and available for use by people in the smaller room.)
    – Stuart F
    Jul 31 at 10:50

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