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According to Manhattan GMAT, the following are incorrect.

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According to Manhattan GMAT, the following are incorrect. [#permalink] New post 18 Nov 2012, 21:55
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According to Manhattan GMAT, the following are incorrect. Could someone please explain them to me?

"Following the gold rush, the mining town collapsed." (The correct version is "After the gold rush, the mining town collapsed.")

"We adopted new policies with the aim to reduce theft." (The correct versions are "We adopted new policies aimed at reducing theft" and "We adopted procedures with the aim of reducing theft.")

"When compared to horses, zebras are viscous." (The correct versions are "In comparison with (or to) horses, zebras are viscous", "A zebra can be compared to a horse in many ways", and Compared with a horse, however, a zebra is very hard to tame.")

I am a native English speaker, and these sound correct to me, but I am obviously missing something.
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Re: Why are these idioms incorrect? [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2012, 17:29
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I'm happy to help with these. :-)

"Following the gold rush, the mining town collapsed." (The correct version is "After the gold rush, the mining town collapsed.")

Technically, the word "following" is a participle, and therefore it should "touch" the noun that is doing the following. Thus,
"Following the dog act, the pony act was a disappointment."
The pony act is the actually think that "followed", that did the "following."
In the sentence above --- yes, that sentence would pass as perfectly correct in colloquial language but technically, the "mining town" did not perform the action of "following" anything.

"We adopted new policies with the aim to reduce theft." (The correct versions are "We adopted new policies aimed at reducing theft" and "We adopted procedures with the aim of reducing theft.")

To "aim at" is correct.
To speak of an "aim of doing X" is correct.

The construction "aim" + "to" is technically not correct. Again, you will hear this in colloquial speech, but that's no guide --- colloquial speech is littered with errors. I don't know that I can "explain" anything besides making the rule clear.

"When compared to horses, zebras are viscous." (The correct versions are "In comparison with (or to) horses, zebras are viscous", "A zebra can be compared to a horse in many ways", and "Compared with a horse, however, a zebra is very hard to tame.")

First of all, I believe the word you want is
vicious -- wild, dangerous, not easily tamed,
and not
viscous --- (of a fluid) thick, syrupy, not easily flowing

The first one makes the famous "missing verb" mistake. The GMAT brutally punishes the following construction
[conjunction][participial phrase]

You see, a conjunction (like "when") must be followed by a full bonafide noun + verb clause, NOT simply a participial phrase. See these blog articles:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/participle ... -the-gmat/
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/gmat-gramm ... b-mistake/

Thus, the construction would have to be "When they are compared to horses, etc.", but that's now awkwardly long and indirect.

Does all this make sense? Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Mike :-)
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Re: Why are these idioms incorrect? [#permalink] New post 21 Nov 2012, 09:12
Thank you for the help. The last one about zebras still does not make sense to me. How is the first missing a verb? I thought "are" is a verb.
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Re: Why are these idioms incorrect? [#permalink] New post 21 Nov 2012, 14:40
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commdiver wrote:
Thank you for the help. The last one about zebras still does not make sense to me. How is the first missing a verb? I thought "are" is a verb.

In the sentence.....

When compared to horses, zebras are vicious.

.... the green part, the independent clause ---- that's fine. It has a bonafide subject ("zebras") and a bonafide verb ("are"). Perfect. The problem is with the red part ----- here the subordinate conjunction "when" is not followed by a bonafide noun + verb clause, but rather by "compared to horses", a participial phrase. That is a construction common in colloquial English and wrong 100% of the time on the GMAT Sentence Correction. Similarly, the construction [subordinate conjunction] + [adjective], by itself, is not complete, and therefore always wrong. Here are further examples of what the GMAT would consistently consider incorrect:
Although sad, I went to the part.
While talking to my friend on my cellphone, I ran a red light.
Because intelligent beyond her years, the student was advanced to the next grade level.
When frightened, my cat hides under the bed.

Those red constructions would be wrong 100% of the time on the GMAT Sentence Correction.

Does all this make sense?

Mike :-)
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Re: Why are these idioms incorrect? [#permalink] New post 21 Nov 2012, 18:09
So, the red part needs to be a main clause in order for the idiom to be correct?
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Re: Why are these idioms incorrect? [#permalink] New post 26 Nov 2012, 10:41
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commdiver wrote:
So, the red part needs to be a main clause in order for the idiom to be correct?


This is actually not a point of idiom, but rather of basic grammar. The "red part" (a.k.a the subordinate clause) must be a full clause --- that is to say, must have a full (noun + verb) structure. I would not use the term "main clause", because then it could be confused with the independent clause.

Does all this make sense?

Mike :-)
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Re: According to Manhattan GMAT, the following are incorrect. [#permalink] New post 02 Mar 2014, 20:17
Hello from the GMAT Club VerbalBot!

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Re: According to Manhattan GMAT, the following are incorrect.   [#permalink] 02 Mar 2014, 20:17
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According to Manhattan GMAT, the following are incorrect.

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