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I'm very confused about this sentence now. It's one of answer choices of GRE test. The question is:

Q: The passage suggests that Glass’s work displays which of the following qualities?

Choice B: An attempt to elevate rock music to an artistic status more closely approximating that of classical music.

What does the usage of "that" here mean? Which is correct if I complete the full sentence here?

  1. Does it mean "the attempt"? Seems like not sensible.

An attempt to elevate rock music to an artistic status more closely approximating the attempt of classical music.

  1. Does it mean "an attempt to elevate rock music to an artistic status"? But this would seem to redundant.

  2. Does it mean "An attempt to elevate rock music"? Then it should be "that to" instead of "that of", right?

  • 1
    that = artistic status. "An attempt to elevate rock music to an artistic status more closely approximating (the artistic status) of classical music." – user3169 Mar 14 '16 at 4:30
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that is a relative pronoun, whose antecedent is "artistic status". Read it like this:

An attempt to elevate rock music to an artistic status more
closely approximating (the artistic status) of classical music.

Does it mean "an attempt to elevate rock music to an artistic status"? But this would seem to (be) redundant.

This is saying that classical music is given more status than rock music, as "serious art". The attempt is to raise the status level of rock, so it can be closer to classical's status level.

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  • ^vote with a note: I'd go further and say that the test sentence is poorly written. "An artistic status more closely approximating" is sloppy writing, probably ungrammatical. No wonder the poster had a problem with it. – lauir Mar 14 '16 at 4:35
  • @hmmn I don't see any problem with it as a sentence, seems entirely typical. – HostileFork says dont trust SE Mar 14 '16 at 4:43
  • Thanks for clarifying it!! It really helps me a lot because there are so many sentences used like this. I have another one to ask too. – Lulu Cai loo Mar 14 '16 at 6:00
  • "In the United States between 1850 and 1880, the number of farmers continued to increase, but at a rate lower than that of the general population." "That" here means "the number of farmers"? So does it mean "The proportion of farmers in the United States labor force decreased"? – Lulu Cai loo Mar 14 '16 at 6:00
  • An attempt to elevate rock music to artistic music that more closely approximates to (of is rarely used) classical music. "That" is a relative pronoun. But the poster's sentence is incomplete. So is mine. There should be something like they made an attempt to.... – Khan Mar 14 '16 at 6:30

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