Clarify a modifier for me? : GMAT Sentence Correction (SC)
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# Clarify a modifier for me?

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Intern
Joined: 26 Feb 2012
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Clarify a modifier for me? [#permalink]

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09 Apr 2012, 19:29
Hi all,

I'm trying to get my head around modifiers, and am hoping someone can clarify a modifier for me that is in the Powerscore SC Bible:

"Even more important is the proper use of power in the department."

What does the phrase "in the department" modify? I though it could be an adjective modifying "use", however Powerscore indicates that it is part pf the predicate...

If you have any questions
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Magoosh GMAT Instructor
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Re: Clarify a modifier for me? [#permalink]

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10 Apr 2012, 15:15
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Hi, there. I'm happy to give my 2¢ on this.

"Even more important is the proper use of power in the department."

The more I think about this sentence, the more I think: it's hard in practice to distinguish "power" from the "use of power." When something is concrete, like a hammer, it's easy to distinguish the hammer itself, the physical tool sitting there, from the use of the hammer, the activity. With power, in a way, the only time you "see" it is when it's used. That makes it hard even to delineate "power" from "the use of power." Ultimately, this becomes a question not about grammar but about philosophy, something beyond the expertise one needs for the GMAT.

I guess my question is --- why does this sentence matter? This is not particularly related to what the GMAT is going to ask about modifiers. The GMAT asks things more of the variety . . .

Last week, I saw Alice Walker at the Herbst Theater, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Obviously, "winner of the Pulitzer Prize" should modify "Alice Walker", so this sentence as it stands has a misplaced modifier. This would be typical wrong answer choice or incorrect prompt on GMAT SC.

The sentence . . . .

"Even more important is the proper use of power in the department."

. . . is grammatically correct, whether we consider "in the department" a modifier of "power" or "use of power." In the former case, it's just following the modifier "touch rule." In the later case, the phrase "of power" is a vital noun modifier ---- we would have no idea what kind of "use" we are talking about without the phrase "of power" ---- and one of the important exceptions to the modifier touch rule is that it's acceptable for a vital noun modifier to come between the noun and the phrase modifying the noun. So, regardless of which noun "in the department" modifies, the sentence as it stands is perfectly correct.

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

Mike
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Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

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Re: Clarify a modifier for me? [#permalink]

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10 Apr 2012, 23:00
Hi Mike, thanks so much for spending the time to write that out. I didn't know about that exception to the touch rule, so I've learnt something =) It was a drill in the SC book, where you have to underline the part of the sentence that relates to the verb, and the writer underlines "Even more important is" as well as "in the department" ie a split predicate... I'm still confused why the writer underlined "in the department", but it seems to be a modifier to "use of power" which makes me feel better. I'm finding it tough to fully get my head around modifiers! Bring on verb tense errors any day...
Magoosh GMAT Instructor
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Re: Clarify a modifier for me? [#permalink]

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11 Apr 2012, 12:48
trentboyce wrote:
Hi Mike, thanks so much for spending the time to write that out. I didn't know about that exception to the touch rule, so I've learnt something =) It was a drill in the SC book, where you have to underline the part of the sentence that relates to the verb, and the writer underlines "Even more important is" as well as "in the department" ie a split predicate... I'm still confused why the writer underlined "in the department", but it seems to be a modifier to "use of power" which makes me feel better. I'm finding it tough to fully get my head around modifiers! Bring on verb tense errors any day...

If you are finding it hard to get your hear about modifiers, I definitely recommend checking out Magoosh. We have 200+ lesson videos, including an enormous series on all the grammar you need for SC. We also will answer GMAT question from any GMAT prep source, so it's like buying online help for all the materials you currently have.

Here's a free video on modifiers:
http://gmat.magoosh.com/lessons/615-modifiers-i

You will also find several helpful articles on our free GMAT blog: http://magoosh.com/gmat/

I hope that's helpful. Let me know if you have any further questions.

Mike
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Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

Re: Clarify a modifier for me?   [#permalink] 11 Apr 2012, 12:48
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