GMAT idioms: Can You Believe That?

By - Jan 16, 09:00 AM Comments [0]

Before a discussion of this cluster of idioms, take a look at these practice GMAT Sentence Correction questions.

1) Supply-side economics believes in the national economy growing most vigorously both through reducing taxes, especially taxes affecting large movements of capital, and by the elimination of the regulations that prevent business from performing optimally.

  1. in the national economy growing most vigorously both through reducing taxes, especially taxes affecting large movements of capital, and by the elimination of
  2. in the national economy most vigorously growing both through the reduction of taxes, especially taxes affecting large movements of capital, and eliminating
  3. that the national economy grows most vigorously through both reducing taxes, especially taxes affecting large movements of capital, and eliminating
  4. that the national economy grows most vigorously both through the reduction of taxes, especially taxes affecting large movements of capital, and also the elimination of
  5. for the national economy to most vigorously grow both through reducing taxes, especially taxes affecting large movements of capital, and eliminating

2) The idea of all men being equal, cited in the Declaration of Independence and from there, having been quoted extensively on numerous occasions, arguably first to appear in HobbesLeviathan.

  1. of all men being equal, cited in the Declaration of Independence and from there, having been quoted extensively on numerous occasions, arguably first to appear
  2. of all men having equality, cited in the Declaration of Independence and from there, they quoted it extensively on numerous occasions, arguably first appearing
  3. for all men to be equal, cited in the Declaration of Independence and from there, quoted extensively on numerous occasions, arguably first appeared
  4. that all men are equal, cited in the Declaration of Independence and from there, quoted extensively on numerous occasions, arguably first appeared
  5. that all men would be equal, cited in the Declaration of Independence and from there, having been quoted extensively on numerous occasions, arguably first appear

 

Idea words

This post concerns the idioms surrounding the use of "idea" words: ideabeliefviewdoctrinedogmaprinciplehypothesistheoryteachingideology, etc.   What are the correct idioms to use with these words: belief in? principle of?  doctrine that?  Let's sort all this out.

 

Source of the idea/interaction with the idea

First of all, the idiom is very different depending on whether we talking about the source of the idea or the content of the idea.  Here, let's focus first on the source.   This includes not only the person who cooked up the idea, but also all the folks who in one way or another "interact" with the idea, by agreeing, disagreeing, supporting, disproving, etc.

For the source or other interaction, we can use either a "that"/"which" subordinate clause
3) The doctrine that the pope proclaimed ….
4) The idea about which Darwin first wrote …
5) The view that Spinoza repudiated ….
6) The theory that Einstein supplanted ….
Notice that, in #4, we used the idiom "to write about."  We also can use the preposition "of" specifically for a source.
7) The doctrines of classical Buddhism ….
8) The teachings of Confucius ….
9) The thought of the Thomist school ….
10) The ideology of the Khmer Rouge ….
Certain "interact-with-the-idea" words have their own idiom.  For example, the verbs "argue", "fight", and "struggle" are used with the preposition "against":
11) The view against which Athanasius fought ….
12) The position against which the Bryan argued ….

 

The content of the idea

In contrast to talking about the source of the idea or other people's relationship to the idea, the GMAT will also talk about what ideas actually say.   For what idea is actually saying, the thought embodied in it ----- this is tricky. If we are going to name only a single noun, then we can use the prepositions "about" or "of", or the participle "concerning," but if we are going to describe a complete action, then the GMAT doesn't like cramming an entire action into a prepositional phrase --- for this case, the GMAT would demand either a "that"/"which" clause with a full [noun] + [verb] structure.
Noun-only constructions:
13) The doctrine of the Prophet Muhammad's unique status among prophets ….
14) The doctrine about Christ's human and divine natures ….
15) The teaching concerning the afterlife ….
16) The teachings of depth psychology  ….
17) The idea of hydrostatic equilibrium ….
18) The principle of least action ….
Full clause constructions:
19) The doctrine that Christ pre-existed from all eternity
20) The teaching that the Buddha, in his first sermon, "turned" the wheel of Dharma
21) The axiom by which the geometric space becomes Euclidean
22) The idea that heavier-than-air machines can fly
23) The hypothesis that Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare's plays
24) The principle that one should counter violence with truth

 

Summary

Having read this post, you may want to give the practice questions another look before reading through the solutions below.

 

Practice question solutions

In both practice questions, we are discussing the content of the belief/idea, not the source or how somebody interacts with it.   Furthermore, in both cases, we are talking about full actions, not just static nouns, so for each, we need a "that"/"which" clause.

1) We need a "that" clause, so begin by eliminating (A) & (B) & (E).   We have the parallelism structure "both P and Q."  The GMAT does not like variants like "both P and also Q" --- that is a problem with (D).  Furthermore, we have to be careful with the placement of the common word "through": we can put it once outside ("through both P and Q") or twice inside ("both through P and through Q").  Choice (D) makes a classic GMAT mistake pattern: once inside ("both through P and Q").  By contrast, (C) is correct on all these fronts, so it is the best answer.

2) We need a "that" clause, so begin by eliminating (A) & (B) & (C).   Choice (D) has the ordinary verb in "all men are equal", whereas choice (E) has the strangely hypothetical "all men would be equal" ---- when? under what conditions? We are already suspicious.  For the main verb, at the end of the underlines section, choice (D) has the ordinary past tense "appeared," perfectly correct; choice (E) has the present tense "appear", which is unusual, and here the verb is plural, which does agree with the singular verb "idea."  Therefore, we can conclusively reject (E) in favor of (D), the best possible answer.

This post was written by Mike McGarry, GMAT expert at Magoosh, and originally posted here.

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