1

The nearby air rapidly expands and contracts, [1]making the column vibrate like a tubular drumhead [2]and producing a tremendous crack.

The options for the bold words in the above text are:

  • that makes
  • and making
  • making
  • it makes

And for the second blank

  • produces
  • is produced by
  • and produce
  • and producing

The original text had blanks in place of the bold words, but this text has the solutions. Anyone could describe in short detail why these words are the correct answer in this test question?

  • It's entirely a matter of opinion why someone might choose to replace making, producing with that/which makes, produces. They mean exactly the same - the only difference is the underlying syntax. Maybe whoever chose the continuous forms did so because they were told to use continuous forms, I don't know. It's just a stylistic choice. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 6 '16 at 15:05
  • Wow you means it's based on idea? not grammar? it's strange !! this is my exam on some days ago. @FumbleFingers – Moji Moji Aug 6 '16 at 15:26
  • Are "That" and "It" capitalized intentionally? If not, neither of those would work in this sentence. They're not all based on preference. Some of them are definitely wrong. – Catija Aug 6 '16 at 15:28
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers - Interestingly, this is a case in which I would say which makes sounds correct and that makes sounds very wrong. I don't really have the terminology to express why, though. – stangdon Aug 6 '16 at 17:35
  • 2
    @stangdon As a relative clause, it's non-restrictive by pointing (the comma), function (clausal modifier) and sense; and you can't use that with a non-restrictive relative clause. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 6 '16 at 17:45
3

The nearby air rapidly expands and contracts, making the column vibrate like a tubular drumhead and producing a tremendous crack

The given answer is correct because it produces two participle clauses joined by and, making X and producing Y; this conjunct construction is a clausal adjunct expressing the result of the expansion and contraction.

HOWEVER—

Two additional pairs of choices from the two lists are also semantically and syntactically acceptable:

  • A) The nearby air rapidly expands and contracts, and making the column vibrate like a tubular drumhead produces a tremendous crack.

    Here we have two coordinated independent clauses: in the second, the gerund clause making the column vibrate ... is the subject of the finite verb produces.

  • B) The nearby air rapidly expands and contracts, making the column vibrate like a tubular drumhead and produce a tremendous crack.

    Here the second clause is, like the "correct" answer, a clausal adjunct expressing the result of the expansion and contraction, but it is now a single participle clause headed by making; this has a direct object the column, and two infinitives joined by and, vibrate like a tubular drumhead and produce a tremendous crack. These express what the column is made to do.

Of the remaining thirteen possibilities, the eight with that makes and it makes are unacceptable after a comma:

  • it makes, and that makes if that is taken to be a demonstrative pronoun, would mark what follows as a new independent clauses. In this sort of formal discourse, a new independent clause requires a coordinating conjunction after a comma, so these would be unacceptable "comma splices".

  • If that is not a demonstrative but a relative pronoun, it heads a relative clause marked by the preceding comma as non-restrictive; but relative that can only be used to introduce restrictive relative clauses, not non-restrictive ones.

In the three with and making we have to ask what the conjunction joins making to. It can't be joined to the two finite verbs expands and contracts, because it's a non-finite form, so it has to be joined to the preceding clause, and what follows the and has to be an independent clause. That would mean that making the column vibrate like a tubular drumhead has to be one of two things:

  • It could be a participle clause modifying either the subject of the following independent clause or the independent clause itself. In either case, however, there is no entity present which could act as the subject of the independent clause; so that reading is excluded.

  • It could be a gerund clause acting as the subject of the following clause, as in A) above. If that's the case, it requires a 3d-person singular finite form of produce as the verb for this clause. Neither and produce nor and producing qualifies, and we've already used produces in A). That leaves is produced by:

    The nearby air rapidly expands and contracts, and making the column vibrate like a tubular drumhead is produced by a tremendous crack.

    That's grammatical; but it's wrong: a tremendous crack may "produce" an effect on hearers, but the vibration in the column is the cause, not the effect, of the sound.

That leaves only the remaining two pairs with making:

The nearby air rapidly expands and contracts, making the column vibrate like a tubular drumhead produces a tremendous crack.

The nearby air rapidly expands and contracts, making the column vibrate like a tubular drumhead is produced by a tremendous crack.

In both of these, making the column vibrate like a tubular drumhead can only be parsed as the subject of the independent clause; and once more, that would entail a comma splice. The second, moreover, even if it were pointed correctly, would be semantic nonsense.

  • Am I missing something here? OP's original text had It makes capitalized, from which I assume the presence/absence of relevant punctuation isn't a factor affecting the issue of which is the "correct answer". Some permutations of the available options are ungrammatical, but it seems to me every option can be grammatical when combined with compatible choices from other options. There is thus no meaningful answer to OP's specific question, which is Why are making + and producing the correct choices? It's like asking Why is 3 the right answer to "Pick a number between 1 and 10"? – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 6 '16 at 17:17
  • @FumbleFingers But you can't ignore punctuation and capitalization in these types of questions. It would make the questions too complex. – Catija Aug 6 '16 at 17:31
  • How is "produces by a tremendous crack." grammatical? "Produces a tremendous crack" is certainly correct but with the "by" it's wrong. – Catija Aug 6 '16 at 17:32
  • @Catija Oops. Sorry, I got confused cut-and-pasting the sentence and options over and over. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 6 '16 at 17:37
  • @Catija: Oh, silly me! Did I miss one? Actually I don't think I did. OP's set of options doesn't include produces by – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 6 '16 at 17:39

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