I'm having difficulty with the extraction of information from sentences containing the word "because."

I was analyzing a text about the advantages and disadvantages of open-plan offices. When asked, "Why are open-plan offices good?", the answers extracted from the text, especially those before the word "because," seemed straightforward. For instance, "open-plan offices are cheaper for companies because they use less electricity" led to the primary advantage being "open-plan offices are cheaper for companies." The book's answer keys confirm this.

However, when discussing disadvantages, the extraction became inconsistent. From the sentence "Some people do not work well in open-plan offices because they are noisy," the primary disadvantage taken was "they are noisy" (from the "because" clause) rather than "Some people do not work well in open-plan offices." Yet, in another sentence "researchers think that people get ill more easily because they work near each other," the primary disadvantage extracted was "people get ill more easily" (from the independent clause).

Why is the information from the "because" clause prioritized in one instance and not in another? Is there a grammatical or semantic rule that I'm overlooking?

Here's the text for reference:

Open-plan offices: new research

The research

People all around the world work in offices. Some people work in small offices for one or two people, but a lot of people now work in open-plan offices. In these offices, people work together in one big room. New research from Australia shows that there are advantages and disadvantages to these offices.

What’s good?

The research shows three reasons to have open-plan offices. Firstly, in open-plan offices a lot of people can work in a small area. Secondly, it is easy for people to talk to work colleagues because they are in the same room. Finally, open-plan offices are cheaper for companies because they use less electricity.

What’s bad?

The research also shows some disadvantages. Some people do not work well in open-plan offices because they are noisy. It is also difficult to talk privately in open-plan offices. Finally, researchers think that people get ill more easily because they work near each other.

Any insights would be greatly appreciated!

  • 1
    I don’t understand the rationale behind how you arrive at this ‘inconsistency’ (it doesn’t seem inconsistent to me). The disadvantages to the company are that people (1) do not work well in open-plan offices and (2) get ill more easily in them. The fact that they’re noisy is not a direct disadvantage here – it’s a factor that causes or leads to a disadvantage (inability to concentrate = less efficient work). Similarly, employees working in close proximity to each other is not a direct disadvantage to the company, but it leads to a disadvantage (increased disease flow = fewer people working). Sep 23 at 14:14
  • Well, but the book's answer keys say "noisy" is one of the disadvantages, not "some people don't work well in open-plan offices", which I found more sensible when it comes to listing pros and cons. If you say people don't work well in open-plan offices is a disadvantage, then what about traditional offices? People do have the same line of argument for those offices, don't they? Being noisy is a distinct disadvantage here.
    – lans
    Sep 23 at 14:30
  • How is open-plan offices being noisy a disadvantage to the company? What’s financially disadvantageous about noise in and of itself? There is no direct link between noise and the company’s bottom line. The book’s answer is just wrong here, I’d say. I don’t understand what you mean by “the same line of argument” for traditional offices (by which I guess you mean those occupied by just one or two employees) – what line of argument? Noise? Sep 23 at 14:45
  • @JanusBahsJacquet What I meant was when you list out pros and cons of something, you tend to stick to the distinct characteristics of the thing. Being noisy is something that "characterizes" open-plan offices. Saying something like "some people don't work well in open-plan offices" is just like saying "some people don't work well in traditional offices." It's not wrong, just weird. Being noisy is clearly a better option here. And the book probably means open-plan offices are noisier than traditional offices.
    – lans
    Sep 23 at 14:52
  • 4
    Only your textbook's authors can explain why they chose the answers they did. I don't think there's any linguistic rule that's operating here.
    – TKR
    Sep 23 at 17:08


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