Alien words not so "alien" : GMAT Sentence Correction (SC)
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# Alien words not so "alien"

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25 Jul 2012, 12:29
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ALIEN WORDS NOT SO ALIEN

Generally, GMAT test takers are very wary of a new word or words in the answer choices. Their instinct is to eliminate an answer choice the moment they see alien words in any of the answer choices. But this certainly is not advisable.

It is not necessary that a new word or words will always make an answer choice incorrect. In some instances these alien words may enhance the meaning of the sentence. There are some official questions where the answer choices with new words are actually the correct answer choices.

CHARACTERISTICS OF ALIEN WORDS IN CORRECT CHOICES

On evaluation, we see that alien words in a correct answer choice can do two things:

A. Impart logic to the original sentence: We may come across a sentence where the original choice A might actually convey illogical meaning of the sentence. The alien words appear in the correct answer choice to make the intended meaning logical.

B. Enhance the meaning of the original sentence: Many a times, the sentence may communicate the intended meaning. In such cases, the alien words may actually enhance the intended meaning of the sentence. They may add such an aspect to the sentence that conveys the logical meaning even more appropriately.

The alien words in the correct answer choice may perform any one of the two roles or both the roles in a sentence. The key thing to notice here is that acceptance of alien words in an answer choice depends upon their effect on the meaning of the sentence. Hence, again we see that the understanding the intended logical meaning of the sentence is the key to success in SC problems.

OFFICIAL EXAMPLE - 1

Let’s first take a look at an official example to see these functions of the alien words. Following is question#137 from OG 12. Since OG 12 has 140 questions and since the questions appear according to their difficulty level, number 137 suggests that this question is of 700 difficulty level.

Joachim Raff and Giacomo Meyerbeer are examples of the kind of composer who receives popular acclaim while living, often goes into decline after death, and never regains popularity again.
A. often goes into decline after death, and never regains popularity again
B. whose reputation declines after death and never regains its status again
C. but whose reputation declines after death and never regains its former status
D. who declines in reputation after death and who never regained popularity again
E. then has declined in reputation after death and never regained popularity

If you want to first solve this problem, get to the correct answer, and then resume reading this article, you can. However, that is not necessary because here I give out the OA – Choice C.

Let me just compare the correct answer choice (C) with the original answer choice (A):
A. often goes into decline after death, and never regains popularity again
C. but whose reputation declines after death and never regains its former status

The first thing to notice here is that Choice C has far many new words than Choice A. These words are “but, whose, reputation, former, status”. Yet, this choice is the correct answer.
Now let’s analyze both these answer choices from meaning standpoint to better understand the role of the alien words in choice C.

Choice A: Per this choice, the sentence says that a certain kind of composer gains popularity while alive, declines after death and never regains his popularity. This meaning just does not make sense because once the composer has died, he cannot decline any further. This choice conveys absolutely illogical meaning.

Choice C: Per this answer choice, a certain kind of composer gains popularity when alive, but after death, his reputation declines and it never regains its previous status. Indeed. This answer choice makes all the sense and hence is the correct answer choice.

EVALUATION OF ALIEN WORDS

So the alien words certainly impart logic to the otherwise illogical sentence. Let’s evaluate the role of important alien words in choice C to see if they are just making the meaning of the sentence logical or also enhancing the intended meaning.

Reputation: This alien word certainly imparts logic to the sentence. After death, the composer himself does not decline. It is his reputation that declines. So we need this word to make the meaning of the sentence logical.

But: Presence of “but” correctly introduces contrast in the sentence. Many of you may ask, “How do we know that there should be a contrast in this sentence. There is no mention of any contrast in the original sentence.” Well, the answer to this question is the context of the sentence tells us that we need a contrast in this sentence.

Logically analyze the sentence. It talks of two scenarios for a composer – one he experiences when he is alive and the other after his death. Both these scenarios are contrasting to each other. When the composer is alive, he gains popularity, but after death his reputation declines. This indeed is contrasting and “but” beautifully brings out that contrast otherwise absent in the original sentence. This is what I call enhancement in the meaning of the sentence.

“But” adds this necessary implied contrast, an important aspect in the sentence, and makes the meaning even better. So the alien words in this sentence not only add logic to the sentence but also enhance the overall meaning of the sentence.

OFFICIAL EXAMPLE - 2

Let’s take one more example here. This is from OG 12#134

Recently implemented “shift-work equations” based on studies of the human sleep cycle have reduced sickness, sleeping on the job, fatigue among shift workers, and have raised production efficiency in various industries.

(A) fatigue among shift workers, and have raised
(B) fatigue among shift workers, and raised
(C) and fatigue among shift workers while raising
(D) lowered fatigue among shift workers, and raised
(E) and fatigue among shift workers was lowered while raising

Here the correct answer choice is choice C, with a new word “while”. Let’s see what makes this alien word friendly here and what role it is playing in this one.

EVALUATION OF ALIEN WORD

As always, the key factor is to understand the meaning of the sentence. The sentence says that based on studies of the human sleep cycle, “shift-work equations” have recently been implemented. These equations have done two things:

a. they have reduced sickness, sleeping on the job, and fatigue among shift workers and

b. they have raised production efficiency in various industries.

So there is no problem in comprehending the intended meaning of the sentence. Now let’s compare the original choice and the correct answer choice with the alien word.

Choice A: fatigue among shift workers, and have raised: Notice that the sentence has two lists. The first has been mentioned above. The second is the sub-list in the first entity. This sub-list contains three entities – “sickness, sleeping on the job, and fatigue”. We need and “and” before “fatigue” to make the entities in this list clear. This faulty sentence structure makes choice A incorrect.
Now let’s talk about the meaning per this choice. The two entities in the first list has been separated by using “and”. This means that both the entities are at the same level. The new implemented equations do two things.

Choice C: and fatigue among shift workers while raising: Firstly, this choice corrects the structure issue we have in the original choice. Use of “and” before “fatigue” properly lists all the three entities.
Notice that this choice has a completely new word “while”. Now “while” has two functions. It presents either simultaneous action or contrast. Per the context of this sentence, “equations” have reduced something and have increased something. Both the actions are positive actions, and both the actions are taking place together. While something has reduced, something else has increased.

Inclusion of “while” denotes simultaneous action. This sense of simultaneous action could not be derived from the original sentence. Hence, the alien word “while” here has added a new aspect to the sentence that is actually enhancing the meaning of the sentence now.

AN ALIEN WORD THAT INTRODUCES ERROR

While some alien words impart logic to the sentence or enhance the intended meaning of the sentence, there are many that actually bring about errors with them. Hence, it is very important to analyze the function of new words in an answer choice and the effect they have on the intended meaning.

CHARACTERISTICS OF UNFRIENDLY ALIEN WORDS

The unfriendly alien words do just the opposite of what the friendly alien words do. There are three things that they can do:
A. Make the sentence illogical: Sometimes alien words can make a logical sentence absolutely illogical. In such cases they must be rejected right away.

B. Introduce grammatical error: Presence of alien words may lead to grammatical errors such as incorrect sentence structure, redundancy, wrong grammar, etc.

C. Change Meaning:
In a grammatically correct choice, we may come across alien words that can change the intended meaning of the sentences. We should be wary of such inclusion in an answer choice.

Let's take a look at this OG Verbal 2#103 question:

Inuits of the Bering Sea were in isolation from contact with Europeans longer than Aleuts or Inuits of the North Pacific and northern Alaska.

(A) in isolation from contact with Europeans longer than
(B) isolated from contact with Europeans longer than
(C) in isolation from contact with Europeans longer than were
(D) isolated from contact with Europeans longer than were
(E) in isolation and without contacts with Europeans longer than

Let’s first get to the meaning of this sentence. Both the Inuits of the Bering Sea and the Aleuts or Inuits of the North Pacific & northern Atlantic were isolated from contact with Europeans. However, the former was in isolation longer than the latter was.

Choice D correctly communicates this meaning.

Now look at choice E. It has a few alien words there “and without”. This answer choice is anyway incorrect because it lacks “were” which is needed to make logical comparison clear in the sentence and it has incorrect idiom.

Moreover, these new words create new error in the answer choice. The original sentence means that the Inuits of the Bering Sea were isolated from contact with Europeans. But choice E now says that they were in isolation and they were also without contacts from the Europeans. The alien words split the single idea into two ideas. The new words add information here which is not present in the original sentence.

Suppose if this choice had no grammatical error but only these two words – and without – then also the choice would have been incorrect because these new words actually introduce error in the sentence by splitting one idea into two.

Let’s take a quick glance at the characteristics of friendly alien words and unfriendly alien words.

Thanks.
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Last edited by egmat on 31 Jul 2013, 13:05, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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25 Jul 2012, 12:41
This is very helpful,especially for non natives like me, who select/reject answer choices typically only on grammar.
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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25 Jul 2012, 23:57
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Good article, and yes, alien words aren't alien if you get the meaning/intent of the sentence. Relying solely on grammar isn't a good idea

One thing I learned during my prep is to read the whole sentence, regardless its underlined or not. An answer choice, though grammatically right, may not *FIT* in the original sentence. Its always good to put the selected answer choice and question prompt together and see if it makes logical sense.
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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26 Jul 2012, 07:46
Its good to see and look at these Q's with new jargon 'alien words'.
But the gist is "Meaning Clarity". I answered all of them correctly by keeping meaning clarity as first priority in my mind.
I didn't bother about any alien word etc.
I have been struggling with timing issues in SC and I feel that its too difficult to think about technicalities while solving the Q's.

I (non native) am around 2 weeks away from my exam and kind of finalized following strategy to use in the exam:

1. a) While reading the Q try to understand the Intended Meaning of Author.
b) Pay close attention to non-UnderLined part and look for any Pronoun, Tense or S-V-A etc mismatch

2. a) Identify all the Possible Grammar Problems with the Sentence.
b) If no apparent problem, use PoE (process of elimination). No other answer choice appears more promising than A then choose A in this case)

3. If an apparent problem(s) is (are) there, then A is clearly wrong. Hence, do the 2-2 or 1-3 Divide with Vertical SCAN of answer choices.
a) The split doesn't always indicate an error, both part of the split can be grammatically correct
b) Do not split based on words but split based on error and logic
c) Split should be reasoned and make sense logically. Do not split based on words ONLY but split based on error type.
d) Do not eliminate answer choice A, If you are not able to identify a definite (certain) error in the original sentence.

4. Use PoE in final two chosen answer choices, keeping Meaning Clarity in mind. Eliminate the definitely wrong answer choices and all other choice repeating the recognized error (in step 3)

5. Read the full sentence with finally chosen answer choice before committing to any option. This will avoid choosing the answer choice which correct the original error but insert the new error in some other part of the sentence.

6. Ideal Time is 60 to 75 seconds, not able to solve in 90 seconds then guess and move on.

7. More than 90 secs is too long a time to answer a SC problem. More than this, Guess (educated) and move on e.g. choosing an answer without "being" over a choice with "being".

Feedback?

P.S. I didn't innovate to invented any of the strategy and do not claim so. These are from many public blogs and forums and are working for me.
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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26 Jul 2012, 07:58
Dear bgs4gmat,

You have rightly identified the gist - Meaning clarity. Clarity in meaning is indeed the holy grail in Sentence Correction. The strategy that you have listed is very similar to the e-GMAT 3 step process. Just review any of our posts. Conversely, you can also see one of our video solutions. This should help put a bit more structure to your approach.

The strategy works very well once you practice this strategy and internalize it. Can I ask you - why are you struggling with timing.

Regards,

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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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26 Jul 2012, 09:02
egmat wrote:
Dear bgs4gmat,

Can I ask you - why are you struggling with timing.

My current Verbal timings on an average are close to:

100+ seconds for SC
120-150 seconds for CR
6-7 minutes for Short Passages with 3Q
8-10 minutes for Long Passages with 4Q

Anything less then that drastically reduce the accuracy

My observation about my SC problem is: If Q is testing only one or two grammatical concept i am good with it. But as soon as logical comparison, Parallelism, and Meaning Clarity join together to make my life tough, I find myself at loss

I revising my SC concepts and other notes/flash cards.
After that i am planning to redo the VR2/OG12 and OG13 (Unique Q's).

Is that a sound plan?
Should i look at the GMAT Club Grammar book and give it a try? (or for that matter any other Concept Material)
I need a plan to crack these tougher SC problems.

Here is my raw data from last few MGMAT CAT's:

GMATPrep1 (22 July) Score 710 (Q48, V39)
SC 15Q (9 right, 6 wrong), All 6 wrong Q were tough and were testing multiple concepts.

CAT 2 (July 1st)
SC 15Q (6 right 9 wrong), All 9 wrong are from 700 800 level. Overall SC average time of 1 min 25 seconds. 100% wrong in comparison, meaning and parallelism.

CAT1 (June24th)
SC 15Q (8 right, 7 wrong), All of the 7 wrong are from 700 800 level difficulty. Overall SC average time of 1 min 21 seconds. 100% wrong in comparison and parallelism But 100% right in Meaning Questions.

In all of the practice tests till now, My RC and CR goes for a toss because of the jittery feeling i have after struggling with SC. I find it hard to concentrate on RC and CR if i feel i wasn't confident in the last few SC Q's. I gave a practice test with 100% RC and CR accuracy, without bothering about SC.
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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26 Jul 2012, 09:52
In our research the key reason that one takes longer to answer questions is lack of a solid foundation. For example, you may take longer to answer questions where logical comparison is involved because you are unable to quickly break a long sentence into its clauses. It could also be that the purpose of words such as "like" and "as" is not clear to you right away.

You need to figure our why (and where) you take longer to understand the intended meaning. This will tell you where you need to improve and allow you to use your time more efficiently. Just blindly taking another resource may not be advisable at this stage.

One more thing, attend my strategy session this weekend if you are curious to know how a solid foundation impacts timing. Look up the calendar bar for the link.

-Rajat
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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26 Jul 2012, 10:10
Thanks Rajat for the insight.
Let me try my best in the remaining few days to improve my SC fundamentals.
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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26 Jul 2012, 13:34

Regards,

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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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30 Jul 2012, 01:44
Just ran into this
Very interesting
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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30 Jul 2012, 01:56
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egmat wrote:
ALIEN WORDS NOT SO ALIEN

Generally, GMAT test takers are very wary of a new word or words in the answer choices. Their instinct is to eliminate an answer choice the moment they see alien words in any of the answer choices. But this certainly is not advisable.

It is not necessary that a new word or words will always make an answer choice incorrect. In some instances these alien words may enhance the meaning of the sentence. There are some official questions where the answer choices with new words are actually the correct answer choices.

CHARACTERISTICS OF ALIEN WORDS IN CORRECT CHOICES

On evaluation, we see that alien words in a correct answer choice can do two things:

A. Impart logic to the original sentence: We may come across a sentence where the original choice A might actually convey illogical meaning of the sentence. The alien words appear in the correct answer choice to make the intended meaning logical.

B. Enhance the meaning of the original sentence: Many a times, the sentence may communicate the intended meaning. In such cases, the alien words may actually enhance the intended meaning of the sentence. They may add such an aspect to the sentence that conveys the logical meaning even more appropriately.

The alien words in the correct answer choice may perform any one of the two roles or both the roles in a sentence. The key thing to notice here is that acceptance of alien words in an answer choice depends upon their effect on the meaning of the sentence. Hence, again we see that the understanding the intended logical meaning of the sentence is the key to success in SC problems.

OFFICIAL EXAMPLE - 1

Let’s first take a look at an official example to see these functions of the alien words. Following is question#137 from OG 12. Since OG 12 has 140 questions and since the questions appear according to their difficulty level, number 137 suggests that this question is of 700 difficulty level.

Joachim Raff and Giacomo Meyerbeer are examples of the kind of composer who receives popular acclaim while living, often goes into decline after death, and never regains popularity again.
A. often goes into decline after death, and never regains popularity again
B. whose reputation declines after death and never regains its status again
C. but whose reputation declines after death and never regains its former status
D. who declines in reputation after death and who never regained popularity again
E. then has declined in reputation after death and never regained popularity

If you want to first solve this problem, get to the correct answer, and then resume reading this article, you can. However, that is not necessary because here I give out the OA – Choice C.

Let me just compare the correct answer choice (C) with the original answer choice (A):
A. often goes into decline after death, and never regains popularity again
C. but whose reputation declines after death and never regains its former status

The first thing to notice here is that Choice C has far many new words than Choice A. These words are “but, whose, reputation, former, status”. Yet, this choice is the correct answer.
Now let’s analyze both these answer choices from meaning standpoint to better understand the role of the alien words in choice C.

Choice A: Per this choice, the sentence says that a certain kind of composer gains popularity while alive, declines after death and never regains his popularity. This meaning just does not make sense because once the composer has died, he cannot decline any further. This choice conveys absolutely illogical meaning.

Choice C: Per this answer choice, a certain kind of composer gains popularity when alive, but after death, his reputation declines and it never regains its previous status. Indeed. This answer choice makes all the sense and hence is the correct answer choice.

EVALUATION OF ALIEN WORDS

So the alien words certainly impart logic to the otherwise illogical sentence. Let’s evaluate the role of important alien words in choice C to see if they are just making the meaning of the sentence logical or also enhancing the intended meaning.

Reputation: This alien word certainly imparts logic to the sentence. After death, the composer himself does not decline. It is his reputation that declines. So we need this word to make the meaning of the sentence logical.

But: Presence of “but” correctly introduces contrast in the sentence. Many of you may ask, “How do we know that there should be a contrast in this sentence. There is no mention of any contrast in the original sentence.” Well, the answer to this question is the context of the sentence tells us that we need a contrast in this sentence.

Logically analyze the sentence. It talks of two scenarios for a composer – one he experiences when he is alive and the other after his death. Both these scenarios are contrasting to each other. When the composer is alive, he gains popularity, but after death his reputation declines. This indeed is contrasting and “but” beautifully brings out that contrast otherwise absent in the original sentence. This is what I call enhancement in the meaning of the sentence.

“But” adds this necessary implied contrast, an important aspect in the sentence, and makes the meaning even better. So the alien words in this sentence not only add logic to the sentence but also enhance the overall meaning of the sentence.

OFFICIAL EXAMPLE - 2

Let’s take one more example here. This is from OG 12#134

Recently implemented “shift-work equations” based on studies of the human sleep cycle have reduced sickness, sleeping on the job, fatigue among shift workers, and have raised production efficiency in various industries.

(A) fatigue among shift workers, and have raised
(B) fatigue among shift workers, and raised
(C) and fatigue among shift workers while raising
(D) lowered fatigue among shift workers, and raised
(E) and fatigue among shift workers was lowered while raising

Here the correct answer choice is choice C, with a new word “while”. Let’s see what makes this alien word friendly here and what role it is playing in this one.

EVALUATION OF ALIEN WORD

As always, the key factor is to understand the meaning of the sentence. The sentence says that based on studies of the human sleep cycle, “shift-work equations” have recently been implemented. These equations have done two things:

a. they have reduced sickness, sleeping on the job, and fatigue among shift workers and

b. they have raised production efficiency in various industries.

So there is no problem in comprehending the intended meaning of the sentence. Now let’s compare the original choice and the correct answer choice with the alien word.

Choice A: fatigue among shift workers, and have raised: Notice that the sentence has two lists. The first has been mentioned above. The second is the sub-list in the first entity. This sub-list contains three entities – “sickness, sleeping on the job, and fatigue”. We need and “and” before “fatigue” to make the entities in this list clear. This faulty sentence structure makes choice A incorrect.
Now let’s talk about the meaning per this choice. The two entities in the first list has been separated by using “and”. This means that both the entities are at the same level. The new implemented equations do two things.

Choice C: and fatigue among shift workers while raising: Firstly, this choice corrects the structure issue we have in the original choice. Use of “and” before “fatigue” properly lists all the three entities.
Notice that this choice has a completely new word “while”. Now “while” has two functions. It presents either simultaneous action or contrast. Per the context of this sentence, “equations” have reduced something and have increased something. Both the actions are positive actions, and both the actions are taking place together. While something has reduced, something else has increased.

Inclusion of “while” denotes simultaneous action. This sense of simultaneous action could not be derived from the original sentence. Hence, the alien word “while” here has added a new aspect to the sentence that is actually enhancing the meaning of the sentence now.

AN ALIEN WORD THAT INTRODUCES ERROR

While some alien words impart logic to the sentence or enhance the intended meaning of the sentence, there are many that actually bring about errors with them. Hence, it is very important to analyze the function of new words in an answer choice and the effect they have on the intended meaning.

CHARACTERISTICS OF UNFRIENDLY ALIEN WORDS

The unfriendly alien words do just the opposite of what the friendly alien words do. There are three things that they can do:
A. Make the sentence illogical: Sometimes alien words can make a logical sentence absolutely illogical. In such cases they must be rejected right away.

B. Introduce grammatical error: Presence of alien words may lead to grammatical errors such as incorrect sentence structure, redundancy, wrong grammar, etc.

C. Change Meaning:
In a grammatically correct choice, we may come across alien words that can change the intended meaning of the sentences. We should be wary of such inclusion in an answer choice.

Let's take a look at this OG Verbal 2#103 question:

Inuits of the Bering Sea were in isolation from contact with Europeans longer than Aleuts or Inuits of the North Pacific and northern Alaska.

(A) in isolation from contact with Europeans longer than
(B) isolated from contact with Europeans longer than
(C) in isolation from contact with Europeans longer than were
(D) isolated from contact with Europeans longer than were
(E) in isolation and without contacts with Europeans longer than

Let’s first get to the meaning of this sentence. Both the Inuits of the Bering Sea and the Aleuts or Inuits of the North Pacific & northern Atlantic were isolated from contact with Europeans. However, the former was in isolation longer than the latter was.

Choice D correctly communicates this meaning.

Now look at choice E. It has a few alien words there “and without”. This answer choice is anyway incorrect because it lacks “were” which is needed to make logical comparison clear in the sentence and it has incorrect idiom.

Moreover, these new words create new error in the answer choice. The original sentence means that the Inuits of the Bering Sea were isolated from contact with Europeans. But choice E now says that they were in isolation and they were also without contacts from the Europeans. The alien words split the single idea into two ideas. The new words add information here which is not present in the original sentence.

Suppose if this choice had no grammatical error but only these two words – and without – then also the choice would have been incorrect because these new words actually introduce error in the sentence by splitting one idea into two.

Let’s take a quick glance at the characteristics of friendly alien words and unfriendly alien words.

Thanks.

Joachim Raff and Giacomo Meyerbeer are examples of the kind of composer who receives popular acclaim while living, often goes into decline after death, and never regains popularity again.
A. often goes into decline after death, and never regains popularity again
B. whose reputation declines after death and never regains its status again
C. but whose reputation declines after death and never regains its former status
D. who declines in reputation after death and who never regained popularity again
E. then has declined in reputation after death and never regained popularity

so if the correct statement becomes
Joachim Raff and Giacomo Meyerbeer are examples of the kind of composer who receives popular acclaim while living, but whose reputation declines after death and never regains its former status.
As far as i remember a rule says
independent clause, dependent clause -- correct construction
independent clause, independent clause --NOT correct
independent clause, FOR/AND/NOT/BUT/OR/YET/SO independent clause -- Correct construction
However in the corrected sentence we find
Independent Clause, BUT dependent clause.
Isnt this violating the rule?
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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31 Jul 2012, 04:53
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egmat wrote:
Dear bgs4gmat,

You have rightly identified the gist - Meaning clarity. Clarity in meaning is indeed the holy grail in Sentence Correction. The strategy that you have listed is very similar to the e-GMAT 3 step process. Just review any of our posts. Conversely, you can also see one of our video solutions. This should help put a bit more structure to your approach.

The strategy works very well once you practice this strategy and internalize it. Can I ask you - why are you struggling with timing.

Regards,

A very good example of the approach / strategy explained here is the SC Q ( VSC002625) in GMAC QP1. The correct answer change the phrase completely.
From "....their numbers have declined compared with the eighteenth century...." to "......their numbers have declined since the eighteenth century..."
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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31 Jul 2012, 08:30
Thanks for pitching in bgs4gmat. We will definitely look that up. Its great to know that you are practicing GP and are able to relate to these articles. Keep up the good work and keep adding to the community's knowledge.

-Rajat
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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31 Jul 2012, 08:52
egmat, some help would be highly appreciated here
http://gmatclub.com/forum/a-little-help-here-136569.html
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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01 Aug 2012, 07:28
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souvik101990 wrote:
Joachim Raff and Giacomo Meyerbeer are examples of the kind of composer who receives popular acclaim while living, often goes into decline after death, and never regains popularity again.
A. often goes into decline after death, and never regains popularity again
B. whose reputation declines after death and never regains its status again
C. but whose reputation declines after death and never regains its former status
D. who declines in reputation after death and who never regained popularity again
E. then has declined in reputation after death and never regained popularity

so if the correct statement becomes
Joachim Raff and Giacomo Meyerbeer are examples of the kind of composer who receives popular acclaim while living, but whose reputation declines after death and never regains its former status.
As far as i remember a rule says
independent clause, dependent clause -- correct construction
independent clause, independent clause --NOT correct
independent clause, FOR/AND/NOT/BUT/OR/YET/SO independent clause -- Correct construction
However in the corrected sentence we find
Independent Clause, BUT dependent clause.
Isnt this violating the rule?

Souvik,

First of all you are absolutely correct that the typically Comma + FANBOYS construction is used to connect TWO independent clauses. Secondly, you are correct in identifying that the second clause in the correct sentence is NOT an INDEPENDENT CLAUSE.

So why the disconnect between this "RULE" and the "Official Answer".
Because - this rule is more of a standard practice than a hard and fast rule. When I say hard and fast rule, I mean the rules such as SV must always agree in number, which relative pronoun modifiers should modify nouns or pronouns and not verbs or clauses, etc.
Just take a step back and understand why is it we use punctuation - we use punctuation so that the sentence is readable. In oral communication, we punctuate by varying pauses. In written communicates, we punctuate by using punctuation marks. For this purpose there are some general guidelines in English language that we should follow but at times there may be sentences in which we do not need any punctuation at all and in some other sentences we may need to punctuate even if the sentence does not technically break into independent clauses. (This sentence is an example of the sentence that is overly complex and is not punctuated well).

Now lets take a look at a few example sentences - all of which are CORRECT.

IC - marked in Blue
Phrases - marked in Pink
Punctuation - Marked in GREEN
1: Tom teaches in high school and attends part time Master's program.
2: During the week Tom teaches in school, and on the weekend he works as a freelance tutor.

Sentences 1 and 2 follow typical construction. No issues here at all.

3: During the week Tom teaches in school and on the weekend he works as a freelance tutor.

Sentence 3 does not use a comma to connect two independent clauses. Now this is fine since the two clauses are relatively short and the structure of both clauses is very similar. In fact there is no readability issue with this sentence without punctuation. So we can drop the comma in sentences such as these.

4. Tom teaches in high school in the suburban area on the eastern coast of Mississippi river during the weekdays so that he can financially support his family, and attends part time Master's program during the weekend so that he can accomplish his lifelong dream of getting a Master's degree.

Sentence 4 uses a comma even though what follows comma + and is not an independent clause. Now in this sentence we definitely need the comma to separate out the two portions of the sentences so that the intended meaning can be communicated in the first read of sentence itself. If comma will not be used then we may need to re-read the sentence to make sense out of it.

Now I am sure you will be thinking "so when do I know if I have to use comma + FANBOYS? How do I eliminate choices based on this?"

The answer is - You should not eliminate choices just based on the usage of comma + FANBOYS. First of all this punctuation "rule" is actually a GUIDELINE and a VERY IMPORTANT one since it helps you break the sentence down into smaller clauses. Secondly, as we saw in the official question in question and the example sentences, there are cases when we may or may not use comma. So make a note of following:

DO NOT USE PUNCTUATION ERRORS such as COMMA + FANBOYS to ELIMINATE ANSWER CHOICES IN the FIRST OR SECOND ELIMINATIONS. First use grammatical basis and meaning basis and then if you are down to final two choices and have already evaluated these for more deterministic grammar and meaning/logic based errors, then you may use this punctuation "error".

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO PUNCTUATION WHEN IT COMES TO USAGE OF MODIFIERS or CONNECTING ELEMENTS IN LISTS. See this article for more discussion on how to use verb-ing modifiers.

I hope this helps.

Regards,

Payal
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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24 Aug 2012, 09:15
Thank you for this valuable post. I need help on this:

Inuits of the Bering Sea were in isolation from contact with Europeans longer than Aleuts or Inuits of the North Pacific and northern Alaska.
Thank you for this valuable post.
What would be the best choice had both choice A and B begin with 'and'. can we ignore the 'have' before 'raised' for the reason that the 'have' on the previous verb could be common to the two verbs, reduced and raised. Any help please.
Recently implemented “shift-work equations” based on studies of the human sleep cycle have reduced sickness, sleeping on the job, fatigue among shift workers, and have raised production efficiency in various industries.

(A) fatigue among shift workers, and have raised
(B) fatigue among shift workers, and raised
(C) and fatigue among shift workers while raising
(D) lowered fatigue among shift workers, and raised
(E) and fatigue among shift workers was lowered while raising
(E) in isolation and without contacts with Europeans longer than
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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24 Aug 2012, 09:18
Thank you for this valuable post. I need help on this:

Inuits of the Bering Sea were in isolation from contact with Europeans longer than Aleuts or Inuits of the North Pacific and northern Alaska.
Thank you for this valuable post.
What would be the best choice had both choice A and B begin with 'and'. can we ignore the 'have' before 'raised' for the reason that the 'have' on the previous verb could be common to the two verbs, reduced and raised. Any help please.

Recently implemented “shift-work equations” based on studies of the human sleep cycle have reduced sickness, sleeping on the job, fatigue among shift workers, and have raised production efficiency in various industries.

(A) fatigue among shift workers, and have raised
(B) fatigue among shift workers, and raised
(C) and fatigue among shift workers while raising
(D) lowered fatigue among shift workers, and raised
(E) and fatigue among shift workers was lowered while raising
(E) in isolation and without contacts with Europeans longer than
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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27 Aug 2012, 06:47
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Expert's post
Hi there,

You ask an interesting question. If Choices A and B had “and” in their beginning, then both the choices would have been correct because in choice B, “have” can be remain understood before “raised”. Let me cite and official example here. Following is the Q#44 from OG Verbal 2 (Blue) with the correct answer choice D.

In contrast to large steel plants that take iron ore through all the steps needed to produce several different kinds of steel, small mills, by processing steel scrap into a specialized group of products, have been able to put capital into new technology and (to) remain economically viable.

Notice how “to” is understood before “remain” as “to” already exists before “put” and the context of the sentence makes it clear that “to put” and “to remain” has to be parallel. So if we use “to” just before the first entity and choose to keep it understood for the second, then also it works fine.

Same can be applicable for “have” in the OG question at hand. The entities that should b parallel are "have reduced" and "have raised". So, we can use "have" in the beginning of the first entity and keep it understood in the beginning of the second entity.

However, in GMAT, only one and just one answer choice will be correct. The rest will have some error or the other on the basis of which you will be able to discard them and get to the correct one.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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27 Aug 2012, 07:19
@ e-gmat. Thank you very much! U made it plain.
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Re: Alien words not so "alien" [#permalink]

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23 Dec 2012, 03:02
Excellent article Shradhha...and thanks for sharing the Qs. However,I think these are not 700+ level Qs. so could you please come up with that sort of Qs on this aspect ?

It would be also great if you can link Qs. from OG12/OG13/Verbal OG2 related to this topic.

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Re: Alien words not so "alien"   [#permalink] 23 Dec 2012, 03:02

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