As spurious sightings of imaginary creatures that have captured the popular mind (i) ______________, however (ii) ________________ a story may be, once it has been circulated enough times, it will gather a patina of (iii) ______________.
As spurious sightings of
Answers: (C), (E), (H)
This is a rare Text Completion in which an answer choice couldn’t even fit into the blank based on the syntax or structure of the sentence (try plugging in (A) and reading the sentence). However, (A) is tempting because we can create a sentence that kind of makes sense: We have fewer sightings but stories keep circulating and these stories become the truth. The problem, again, is with syntax. “However” is not used as a shift word indicating opposition. “However”, in this sentence, means “to whatever extent”. What the sentence is saying is that bogus (spurious) sighting of a creature (C) suggest, even if a story is totally ridiculous (apocryphal, which means of dubious authenticity, works best here), the story will take on an element of (H) truth.
FAQ: Why can't "entail" work for the first blank?
A: This is a great question, because the difference between 'entail' and 'suggest' is really subtle. The short answer to this question is that 'entail' is too strong of a word for the blank -- so 'suggest' fits better. But to explain why, it would help if we look at the sentence as a whole :)
The part that comes after the blank basically says this: "No matter how unlikely a story may be, if people keep telling it over and over again, it will start to seem true."
And the first part of the sentence is providing a reason/support for this claim. Basically, it's saying "Would you like an example for this claim? Well, just look at fake sightings of imaginary creatures".
So the author provides support by looking at an example. But it would be strange in English to say that an example "entails" some claim -- that would be too bold of a statement. You might use the word "entails" when you have a strong proof for something. For example, you might say:
- The fact that Dhaka is in Bangladesh entails that Dhaka is in Asia.
But "entails" here is a really strong word: it means that the support is really strong, of you have a proof. We use "suggests" when the support really isn't that strong:
- Jim wore a suit to the party, which suggests that he came straight from work.
In this example, "entails" wouldn't work because we don't have a clear/cut proof. The fact that Jim is wearing a suit doesn't entail/prove that Jim came from work (maybe he just likes to wear suits?). But it still suggests that he came from work.
So that's why "suggest" is the correct answer choice here. The word "entail" would only work if we had really, really strong proof -- more than just an example.
FAQ: What does "however" mean here?
A: As a rule of thumb, whenever "however" is immediately followed by a comma, it's a shifter. If it is not immediately followed by a comma (as is the case here), and is rather part of a phrase, it means "in whatever manner...."
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