That raindrops begin their existence as ice crystals above most of the earth seems likely

  1. ---------- begin their existence as ice crystals over most of the earth seems likely.
    (A) Raindrops
    (B) If raindrops
    (C) What if raindrops
    (D) That raindrops

According to the answer key D is the answer. But I still think it’s A.
Please help.

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The sentence consists of the following two clauses:

  1. That raindrops begin their existence…

  2. seems likely.

The first clause is the short form of “The fact that raindrops begin their existence”…

You can rephrase the sentence as follows:

It seems likely that raindrops begin their existence as ice crystals over most of the earth.

Please let me know if this makes sense.

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I definitely prefer @Torsten’s rephrasing of the sentence, but in both that and the original it seems like “over” is ambiguous. Does it mean “above” or “across”?

Using both meanings one could say:

“…as ice crystals high in the atmosphere over most parts of the earth.”

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You are absolutely right. Thanks so much for pointing this out. “Over most of the earth” doesn’t make sense in the given context.

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Thank you and I still need to work out on the clauses. Still long way to go, but not going to stop learning.

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To my native ears, over most of the earth sounds OK. If there is something technically wrong with it, I’d call it a collocation.

There is difference between above and over, but they are often used interchangeably whether it’s correct or not. The difference is subtle.

Over implies some sort of coverage. Above implies a greater height, but does not imply coverage. It may be a single point.

As used, “Over the Earth” implies that it surrounds the Earth, similar to the stratosphere or ionosphere. In the context of the original sentence, the ice crystals form in the lower atmosphere, which does indeed surround the entire planet.

“Across the Earth” would not be used in that sentence.

“Across the river”, “Across the ocean” and “Across the continent” mean the other side. It also may imply a linear distance or direction. “Across the river” might mean any place on the other side of the river, which may be half the continent. It has a stronger implication of a smaller area directly across the river in a roughly perpendicular direction.

“Across the planet” may be used to mean widespread.

By the way, Earth is a proper noun as used in the original sentence and should be capitalized. The word earth can mean dirt or soil. In that case it’s not a proper noun and should not be capitalized.

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