Sentence Correction: Advanced Pronoun Errors—Ambiguity and Antecedents

On October 24, 1946, the first black-and-white images of earth were taken from a motion-picture camera mounted on a V-2 missile launched from the New Mexico desert to an altitude of 65 miles, and pointed to future possibilities for documenting the planet from outer space.

Incorrect.

This answer choice is illogical. While the parallel construction A and B (were taken and pointed) is grammatically correct, as both are verbs in the past tense, it creates an illogical sentence, stating that it was the the first black-and-white images of earth which pointed to future possibilities [...].

[[snippet]]

Incorrect.

While this answer choice corrects the logical issue in the original sentence, by introducing a new subject in the second clause (it), it is stylistically flawed.

The pronoun it is ambiguous because it can refer to at least two singular nouns in the preceding part of the sentence (camera, missile), although none of these references actually makes sense.

Incorrect.

This answer choice is grammatically incorrect. The plural X of Y subject the first black-and-white images of earth  is followed by a parallel construction of two verbs: were taken and points. However, points is a singular verb which does not agree with the subject.

What helps us identify this question as a Subject Verb Agreement question is the following Stop Sign:

an X of Y subject, A long, complex subject or a great distance between subject and verb

Incorrect..

While this answer choice corrects the logical issue in the original sentence, by introducing a new subject in the second clause (it), it is grammatically incorrect and stylistically flawed.

Using the Present Simple verb points after a Past Simple verb were taken and the past time phrase On October 24, 1946 violates the Once in the Past, Always in the Past rule, and is therefore grammatically incorrect.

In addition, the pronoun it is ambiguous because it can refer to at least two singular nouns in the preceding part of the sentence (camera, missile).

Excellent work!

This answer choice corrects the logical issue in the original sentence, by changing the conjugated verb and pointed to the non-conjugated V+ing (or participle) form pointing.

The phrase "pointing to future possibilities for documenting the planet from outer space" correctly describes and adds information to the entire situation, as it was not the images themselves but the fact they were taken that pointed to future possibilities.

and pointed

and it pointed

and points

pointing

and it points

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