Reply To: Words that indicate guarantees

April 3, 2016 at 3:35 pm #1650
Mike Kim

Hey Blair —

Sure thing – thanks so much for the kind words and happy to help —

In terms of the only if — the only is before drive — “can only drive if” — but it’s still there, and the meaning is the same as saying “can drive only if” —

And in terms of “tends to” —

Keep in mind that the LSAT is, as much as anything else, a test of careful reading, and in terms of the words the test writers care about most, they are the words and phrases that determine the exact reasoning relationships in the sentences — words like “tends to” —

And in terms of how they choose to test your understanding of these terms, sometimes they choose to do so in term of the inferences that you can make with those words (example below), but, and this is my key point here, especially in LR (which is where tends to will be most important) they more commonly test your understanding by checking to make sure that you don’t make false or mistaken inferences —

So, for a phrase like “Blair tends to sing a lot” —

Here’s an example of a valid inference you could need to make —

If we add it to something like, “The person who lives alone in Apartment B never sings,” then we can see that Blair doesn’t live in Apartment B.

In terms of the mistaken inferences — things that we cannot say must be true per the given information, they would be things like —

“Blair is the only person who tends to sing a lot.”
“If a person sings a lot, that person must be Blair.”
“Blair must sing every second of the day.”

And so on —

So, my point with saying all this is —

When you see words and phrases like tends to, it helps to know that your main task is to understand as exactly as possible, and to not over-infer, and so I suggest you avoid translating into any other format or phrasing (like “is”) that might tempt you to distort the meaning in any way or lead you to making false inferences down the line —

HTH and as always if you have any follow up don’t hesitate to let me know — Mike