The sentence:
Presenting opposite characters permits the child to comprehend easily the difference between the two, which he could not do as readily were the figures drawn more true to life , with all the complexities that characterize real people.

About "were the figures drawn more true to life", is it:

(a ) if the figures drawn were more true to life


(b ) if the figure were drawn more true to life ?

IMO, it's (a ). But my book says it's (b )...
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The quote is apparently speaking of two contrasting figures, neither of which is drawn realistically. You are right, ( a ) is the answer, Taka.

The discrepency between the statement and the answer sheet may be that in the statement, 'figure' refers to human figures, while the answer may be considering the single illustration 'figure' in which the two caricatures appear.
Oops! Sorry, MM. It's a typo. (b ) is actually "if the figures were drawn more true to life". The question is about the position of "were".
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Aha! Hmm....

At first sight, I see nothing wrong with either, but it occurs to me that ( b) 'he could not do...if the figures were drawn more true to life' might better be 'had been drawn'.

Meanwhile, ( a) can be expanded to 'he could not do...if the figures (which have been) drawn were more true to life'-- which seems fine.

Yes, I like ( a) better, but it also seems to me that we are nitpicking between them.

Perhaps there are other opinions on this one.
Is it grammatically correct to say like "draw the figure true to life" (i.e. draw+object+complement)?
They made my wife angry.
They made my wife an archbishop.
They drew my wife naked.

I think so, Taka. Can I go to bed now?
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Sure. I let you go now. Emotion: smile

I think that syntactically the construction is ambiguous between the two.

Either we're talking about the "figures" or the figures which were drawn, i.e., "drawn figures", expressed as "figures drawn". So either "figures" is the subject of the "if" clause and "were drawn" is the verb phrase or "figures drawn", "drawn" being an adjective, is the subject and "were" is the verb.

When we look at the semantic level, however, we have to admit that "figures drawn" is rather redundant -- not completely, perhaps, but certainly to some extent, because so many entities (not all) called "figures" are, in fact, drawn.

Figures can be drawn more true to life, and figures can be more true to life, so on these grounds, the ambiguity still exists. It must be the near redundancy of "figures drawn" that causes the authors to choose b. Who knows?
Hello all

I agree that redundancy is a problem here - the 'drawnness' is partly present not only in 'figures', but also in 'true to life'.

There also seems to be a problem with the final clause, if 'drawn' is an adjective:
were the figures drawn more true to life, with all the complexities that characterize real people.

It seems to me that although we can take 'drawn' as an adjective, the structure flicks back to [were...drawn = verb] when we reach 'with all...' — i.e. it reverts to 'were the figures drawn...with all the complexities, etc'.

Or to look at it another way: if 'drawn' is an adjective, shouldn't 'characterize' be 'characterized'?

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