Ellipsis & Substitution : GMAT Verbal Section
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# Ellipsis & Substitution

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05 Feb 2013, 22:30
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Hi Guys,

I have confusion regarding the use of SUBSTITUTION (especially Substitution by Helping verb DO, BE, HAVE) on GMAT. Can someone explain or write an article, explaining the concept & how it is tested on GMAT (As far as i have seen this concept is tested in Comparison). Can you also explain when is it Correct or Incorrect to use ELLIPSIS.

Why these examples are Correct or Incorrect:-
Wordy: I have never seen an aardvark, but my father has seen an aardvark.
Better: I have never seen an aardvark, but my father HAS.
Wrong: I have never seen an aardvark, but last year my father did

Wrong: Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they are
Right: Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they do

Megumi speaks Japanese better than I do.
Megumi has visited more countries than I have.
Megumi has more skirts than I do.

In no other historical sighting did Halley’s Comet cause such a worldwide sensation as did its return in 1910–1911.
(A) did its return in 1910–1911
(C) in its return of 1910–1911
(D) its return of 1910–1911 did
(E) its return in 1910–1911

SUBSTITUTION
The guiding principles of the tax plan released by the Treasury Department could have even a greater significance for the economy than the particulars of the plan.
(A) even a greater significance for the economy than
(B) a significance that is even greater for the economy than
(C) even greater significance for the economy than have
(D) even greater significance for the economy than do
(E) a significance even greater for the economy than have

Waiting eagerly for your valuable inputs.

Regards,
Fame
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Last edited by fameatop on 06 Feb 2013, 03:10, edited 1 time in total.
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06 Feb 2013, 00:14
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fameatop wrote:
Hi Guys,

I have confusion regarding the use of SUBSTITUTION (especially Substitution by Helping verb DO, BE, HAVE) on GMAT. Can someone explain or write an article, explaining the concept & how it is tested on GMAT (As far as i have seen this concept is tested in Comparison). Can you also explain when is it Correct or Incorrect to use ELLIPSIS.

Why these examples are Correct or Incorrect:-
Wordy: I have never seen an aardvark, but my father has seen an aardvark.
Better: I have never seen an aardvark, but my father HAS.
Wrong: I have never seen an aardvark, but last year my father did

Wrong: Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they are
Right: Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they do

Megumi speaks Japanese better than I do.
Megumi has visited more countries than I have.
Megumi has more skirts than I do.

In no other historical sighting did Halley’s Comet cause such a worldwide sensation as did its return in 1910–1911.
(A) did its return in 1910–1911
(C) in its return of 1910–1911
(D) its return of 1910–1911 did
(E) its return in 1910–1911

SUBSTITUTION
The guiding principles of the tax plan released by the Treasury Department could have even a greater significance for the economy than the particulars of the plan.
(A) even a greater significance for the economy than
(B) a significance that is even greater for the economy than
(C) even greater significance for the economy than have
(D) even greater significance for the economy than do
(E) a significance even greater for the economy than have

Waiting eagerly for your valuable inputs.

Regards,
Fame

Hi Fame,

Yes these concepts are mostly tested in Comparisons, I will try to answer your queries.

Wordy: I have never seen an aardvark, but my father has seen an aardvark. --> "has seen an aardvark" is redundant here. Because of these these four words the sentence becomes wordy.
Better: I have never seen an aardvark, but my father HAS. --> after removing the redundant words the sentence becomes grammatically correct and concise.
Wrong: I have never seen an aardvark, but last year my father did --> This is wrong because 'have' is expressing a possession while 'did' expresses action.

The following sentence would be correct:

I never saw an aardvark, but my father did. --> the verb "did" can be replaced by "saw"
I never saw an aardvark, but my father saw --> Correct

Wrong: Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they are -->
Right: Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they do --> For expressing actions we use "do"

another example --

Right: Our cars were designed to be inspirational, and they are --> "are" is suitable here as we are expressing quality

You can check these sentences by asking "What"

Wrong: Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they are --> What they are? Ans: inspire. makes no sense
Right: Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they do --> What they do? Ans: inspire, so this sentence is correct
Right: Our cars were designed to be inspirational, and they are --> What are they? Ans: inspirational,

Megumi speaks Japanese better than I do. --> Correct, In a way the sentence is saying "Megumi speaks Japanese better than I speak Japanese."
Megumi has visited more countries than I have. --> Correct, ".... than I have vsited"
Megumi has more skirts than I do. --> Incorrect, do is expressing action while has is expressing possession.

Megumi has more skirts than I have --> Correct

For a native speaker, these nuances may not be intriguing; but, for a non-native they might be confusing. So, even if you are studying really hard for SC, do not neglect reading standard English material as a part of your GMAT preparation.

For ellipsis you can refer to the links below, but I would suggest that you just make a note of the patterns in the examples from Official GMAT resources. Learning the rules may confuse you whereas recognizing the patterns would help in recalling them later.

http://cutewriting.blogspot.in/2008/05/ ... z2K6Ozh24P

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ ... lipsis.htm

In no other historical sighting did Halley’s Comet cause such a worldwide sensation as did its return in 1910–1911.
(A) did its return in 1910–1911
(C) in its return of 1910–1911
(D) its return of 1910–1911 did
(E) its return in 1910–1911

This is a tricky question. "As" in the sentence is marking a comparison, now we have to find out which two grammatical structures are being compared.

"IN no other historical sighting" as "IN its return in 1910-1911" This makes answer choice C correct.

In this sentences the two prepositional phrases are being compared.

Most of us get confused as to why Choice (A) is incorrect or why is "did" incorrect.

If you want to use "did" in the later part of the sentence you can do so by rephrasing the sentence as shown below:

In no other historical sighting did Halley’s Comet cause such a worldwide sensation as it did in its return of 1910–1911

SUBSTITUTION
The guiding principles of the tax plan released by the Treasury Department could have even a greater significance for the economy than the particulars of the plan.
(A) even a greater significance for the economy than
(B) a significance that is even greater for the economy than
(C) even greater significance for the economy than have
(D) even greater significance for the economy than do
(E) a significance even greater for the economy than have

the-guiding-principles-of-the-tax-plan-released-by-the-76551-20.html#p1029217

Hope that helps,

Vercules
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06 Feb 2013, 01:46
Still not happy. Looking for more.
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06 Feb 2013, 02:58
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Ok
so for the last time, let me try to make this clear.
THE VERBS THAT ARE OMITTED AND ARE ASSUMED TO REPEAT MUST EXIST BEFORE!!!
Wordy: I have never seen an aardvark, but my father has seen an aardvark.
Better: I have never seen an aardvark, but my father HAS.
Wrong: I have never seen an aardvark, but last year my father did

Point 1
the "have" DOES NOT indicate possession. It indicates a present perfect tense.
Has/Have can ONLY show possession when it is the main verb, for example,
I have a dog.
I have fed the dog. (this sentence DOES NOTuse have as possession)

Point 2
I did not see Skyfall, but my brother did. CORRECT sentence. WHY? Because we replicated "did"
I have never seen an aardvark, but my father has (omitted part is "seen an aardvark". WHY ARE WE ABLE TO OMIT IT? Because "seen an aardvark is INCLUDED in the sentence)
I have never seen an aardvark, but last year my father did (what would be the logical sentence if we did not omit anything? It would be "I have never seen an aardvark, but last year my father did see an aardvark. Now LOOK CAREFULLY. Did the omitted portion "see an aardvark" exist in the sentence? NO. Did see cannot replace have seen. Period! HENCE WRONG).
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06 Feb 2013, 03:04
Wrong: Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they are
Right: Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they do

Whenever you see stuffs omitted (ellipses and what not), you should try to fill up the void and see if it makes sense. Lets try to do that

Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they are________________________________
We can fill up this blank with "inspire envy" so the sentence becomes Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they are inspire envy. Pretty awful and wrong sentence isnt it?

Now lets look at the second one.
Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they do__________________________________________
We can fill up this blank using "inspire envy" so the sentence becomes Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they do inspire envy. Sounds like a petty correct sentence to me isnt it?
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07 Feb 2013, 08:53
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You are correct @fametop. Such omissions and substitutions are tested in comparison based sentences. You may also find the same in parallelism based sentences as well. Let's begin the understanding using some simple examples:

Tom solves SC questions more efficiently than Marie does.
Here "does" is used in place of "solves" - Substitution

Tom solves SC questions more efficiently than Marie.
Here "does" has been omitted. The verb can be omitted from the comparison since the sentence does not result in any ambiguity after the omission. So as you can see above, such omission (also called as ellipsis) is done to make the sentence more crisp. And how do we make the sentence more crisp - by not repeating certain words that have already appeared once in the sentence. This applies really well when we have comparison or parallel constructions involving verbs. And hence we come to the main take away.

You can omit the words till the point the meaning is clear.

Lets take another set of sentences:

Tom adores his wife more than his mother does.
Here "does" is used in place of "adores" - Substitution

Tom adores his wife more than his mother.
Here "does" has been omitted. But is the meaning clear? What is the comparison here? Are we comparing how much Tom adores his wife vs how much he adores his mother. Or are we comparing how much Tom adores his wife vs how much his mother adores his wife. That is one of the two following sentences:

1: Tom adores his wife more than his mother does.

I hope this example set helped reinforce the takeaway stated above.

Now lets take up the examples in your question:

I have never seen an aardvark, but last year my father did
Now this sentence is wrong. And here is why. Here ellipsis/omission has not been applied correctly. Basically the author has omitted the verb - see. (did see = saw) as shown below:
I have never seen an aardvark, but last year my father DID SEE.

But notice, the verb "see" does not appear as is anywhere in the sentence. And you cannot omit something that does not exist.

Now let's take this other example sentence:
Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they are
What could have been omitted here? There is a verb from "to inspire". So the verb form "inspire" could have been omitted. But when I place this supposedly omitted word what do I get:
Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they are inspire. - This is absolutely incorrect.
Doing the same in the correct version - here is what we get.
Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they do inspire
Notice how putting back the omitted word makes perfect sense in the sentence.

Here are the other sentences in your post. I have specified the word that is omitted.
Megumi speaks Japanese better than I do speak. - CORRECT
Megumi has visited more countries than I have visited. - CORRECT
Megumi has more skirts than I do. - Here "do" replaces the verb "have" - CORRECT.

I hope this helps clarify your confusion!
Regards,
Payal
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07 Feb 2013, 09:09
Nice explanation.
Megumi has more skirts than I do. - Here "do" replaces the verb "have" - CORRECT.
Megumi has more skirts than I HAVE - - Is this sentence correct?

If not why?
If both are equally correct, which one is preferred on GMAT.

Can you also provide the explanation for the attached questions. I am not satisfied with the explanations provided elsewhere for these questions.

Waiting for guidance.

Fame
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07 Feb 2013, 11:28
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fameatop wrote:
Why these examples are Correct or Incorrect:-
(1) CORRECT BUT Wordy: I have never seen an aardvark, but my father has seen an aardvark.
(2) CORRECT: I have never seen an aardvark, but my father HAS.
(3) CORRECT: I have never seen an aardvark, but last year my father did

(4) Wrong: Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they are
(5) Right: Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they do

(7) CORRECT: Megumi speaks Japanese better than I do.
(8) CORRECT: Megumi has visited more countries than I have.
(9) CORRECT: Megumi has more skirts than I do.
(10) CORRECT: Megumi has more skirts than I have.

Notice, on those last two, 9 & 10 --- both are correct. I believe both would be acceptable on the GMAT --- if there's any difference between then, this is far too picayune to constitute anything the GMAT would test. In the second term of a comparison, you can repeat the original verb, or you can substitute the verb "to do". Either is correct.

Notice, we can substitute an auxiliary verb (i.e. a "helping" verb) for the entire verb --- that is precisely what takes place in #2. See:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/auxiliary- ... -the-gmat/

Notice, when we need to replace a general predicate, we use the verb "to do", as in #3, #5, #7, and #9. See
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/repeating- ... -the-gmat/
fameatop wrote:
OG13, SC #139: In no other historical sighting did Halley’s Comet cause such a worldwide sensation as did its return in 1910–1911.
(A) did its return in 1910–1911
(C) in its return of 1910–1911
(D) its return of 1910–1911 did
(E) its return in 1910–1911

First of all, let's think about the wordiest possible version
In no other historical sighting did Halley’s Comet cause such a worldwide sensation as the worldwide sensation Halley’s Comet caused in its return of 1910–1911.
Now, in orange, I have marked the repeated words ....
In no other historical sighting did Halley’s Comet cause such a worldwide sensation as the worldwide sensation Halley’s Comet caused in its return of 1910–1911.
The subject & verb are the same, so we don't need to repeat them. We always need to repeat a preposition if the change is the object of prepositional phrase --- that's why the "in" is required and must stay there. Notice, when we drop the orange, we are left with (C), the OA.
fameatop wrote:
SUBSTITUTION
The guiding principles of the tax plan released by the Treasury Department could have even a greater significance for the economy than the particulars of the plan.
(A) even a greater significance for the economy than
(B) a significance that is even greater for the economy than
(C) even greater significance for the economy than have
(D) even greater significance for the economy than do
(E) a significance even greater for the economy than have

First of all, the first term of the comparison is a clause with a subject and verb ---- "principles .... have" ---- so the second term, after the word "than", must also have a subject & verb. Of course, the new subject is "the particulars", after the underlined section. The question is, what should the verb be? Notice, (A) & (B) are right out, because they don't have any verb at all.
The question is --- should the verb after the "than" be "have" or "do"? Well, this involves a very subtle but important distinction. If the first use of the word "have" were as an auxiliary verb, then we could substitute this auxiliary verb in the second term ----
"...the principles .... have made an impact .... more than have the particulars ...."
Notice, though, in this sentence, in the first half of the sentence, the word "have" does not appear as an auxiliary verb but rather as the main verb. Because it's a main verb, we could do one of two things:
(a) we could substitute this main verb with "do" --- that's what choice (D) does --- this sounds very nature
(b) we could repeat the main verb ---- but we would typically do that after the subject --- "even greater significance for the economy than the particulars of the plan have" ---- (C) has an unusual word order that is not 100% natural, but it is not out-and-out wrong.
I won't name the source of this questions, but quite frankly, I don't hold this source in high regard and I think this particular question is not worth its weight in donkey muffins. I would say that (D) sounds a little more natural, but so far as I can tell, there is nothing definitively "wrong" with (C), so this question is asking us to make a distinction on some hyperfine basis that this source has in mind, something that is not grounded in general grammar and something that is certainly not going to be tested on the GMAT. This is most definitely not a GMAT-like question.

Low quality questions generate confusion & questions & discussions that don't necessarily help anyone prepare for the GMAT. In selecting GMAT questions with which to study, I would suggest that quality is much more important than quantity.

That's my 2¢

Mike
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08 Feb 2013, 22:02
egmat wrote:
Megumi has more skirts than I do. - Here "do" replaces the verb "have" - CORRECT.

I hope this helps clarify your confusion!
Regards,
Payal

hi Payal,
If we write the sentence highlighted above as "Megumi has more skirts than I have"-then also it'll be correct I think...

Please let me know if I'm correct !
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09 Feb 2013, 04:58
egmat wrote:

I have never seen an aardvark, but last year my father did
Now this sentence is wrong. And here is why. Here ellipsis/omission has not been applied correctly. Basically the author has omitted the verb - see. (did see = saw) as shown below:
I have never seen an aardvark, but last year my father DID SEE.

But notice, the verb "see" does not appear as is anywhere in the sentence. And you cannot omit something that does not exist.

Hi, from the above explanation is it correct to say "I have never seen an aardvark, but last year my father DID SEE"?
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09 Feb 2013, 05:08
egmat wrote:

I have never seen an aardvark, but last year my father did
Now this sentence is wrong. And here is why. Here ellipsis/omission has not been applied correctly. Basically the author has omitted the verb - see. (did see = saw) as shown below:
I have never seen an aardvark, but last year my father DID SEE.

But notice, the verb "see" does not appear as is anywhere in the sentence. And you cannot omit something that does not exist.

Hi, from the above explanation is it correct to say "I have never seen an aardvark, but last year my father DID SEE"?

go through e-GMAT's/Souvik's explanations above again..hope you'll get it.
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12 Feb 2013, 07:08
debayan222 wrote:
egmat wrote:
Megumi has more skirts than I do. - Here "do" replaces the verb "have" - CORRECT.

I hope this helps clarify your confusion!
Regards,
Payal

hi Payal,
If we write the sentence highlighted above as "Megumi has more skirts than I have"-then also it'll be correct I think...

Please let me know if I'm correct !

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12 May 2015, 16:16
Thanks mikemcgarry, useful as usual.

Do you have any link or source to read further about questions similar to these ones (Megumi, Halleys commet, etc)?

I mean, if I look for ellipsis material I find explanations about avoiding ambiguity, as seen in OG V2 #103:
Inuits of the Bering Sea were in isolation from contact with Europeans longer than Aleuts or Inuits of the North Pacific and northern Alaska.

But what i'm having trouble with is replacing parts of the sentence with helping verbs do/have/be as in OG13 #91:
In an effort to reduce their inventories, Italian vintners have cut prices; their wines have been priced to sell and thev are.

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks again
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14 May 2015, 14:50
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PANCHODV wrote:
Thanks mikemcgarry, useful as usual.

Do you have any link or source to read further about questions similar to these ones (Megumi, Halleys commet, etc)?

I mean, if I look for ellipsis material I find explanations about avoiding ambiguity, as seen in OG V2 #103:
Inuits of the Bering Sea were in isolation from contact with Europeans longer than Aleuts or Inuits of the North Pacific and northern Alaska.

But what i'm having trouble with is replacing parts of the sentence with helping verbs do/have/be as in OG13 #91:
In an effort to reduce their inventories, Italian vintners have cut prices; their wines have been priced to sell and thev are.

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks again

Dear PANCHODV,
I'm happy to respond.

On the general problem of omitting common words in the second branch of parallel, see:
https://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/dropping- ... -the-gmat/

For the issue of helping verbs, you might find this blog helpful:
https://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/repeating ... -the-gmat/

For OG13 SC #91, I will recommend this:
http://gmat.magoosh.com/forum/3478-in-a ... nventories

Overall, I am going to recommend this blog:
https://magoosh.com/gmat/2014/how-to-im ... bal-score/

Let me know if you have further questions.

Mike
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14 May 2015, 14:56
Quote:
Dear PANCHODV,
I'm happy to respond.

On the general problem of omitting common words in the second branch of parallel, see:
https://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/dropping- ... -the-gmat/

For the issue of helping verbs, you might find this blog helpful:
https://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/repeating ... -the-gmat/

For OG13 SC #91, I will recommend this:
http://gmat.magoosh.com/forum/3478-in-a ... nventories

Overall, I am going to recommend this blog:
https://magoosh.com/gmat/2014/how-to-im ... bal-score/

Let me know if you have further questions.

Mike

Nice... thanks a lot.
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11 Oct 2015, 18:06
egmat wrote:

Tom solves SC questions more efficiently than Marie.
Here "does" has been omitted. The verb can be omitted from the comparison since the sentence does not result in any ambiguity after the omission. So as you can see above, such omission (also called as ellipsis) is done to make the sentence more crisp. And how do we make the sentence more crisp - by not repeating certain words that have already appeared once in the sentence. This applies really well when we have comparison or parallel constructions involving verbs. And hence we come to the main take away.

You can omit the words till the point the meaning is clear.

Hi Egmat, in the example above, by omitting the word "does", doesn't the sentence read "Tom solves SC questions more efficiently than he solves Marie"?
By omitting "does", the sentence is really comparing X (how he solves SC questions) with Y (Marie).
That's not the intended meaning right?
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11 Oct 2015, 23:07
iyera211 wrote:
by omitting the word "does", doesn't the sentence read "Tom solves SC questions more efficiently than he solves Marie"?
By omitting "does", the sentence is really comparing X (how he solves SC questions) with Y (Marie).
That's not the intended meaning right?
This is a meaning clarity issue, and if you find a better option, please do mark it. We should not, however, be under the impression that removing the does makes the sentence impossible. The correct option does not always lead to a completely unambiguous sentence. It just needs to be "the best of the five".
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12 Oct 2015, 10:23
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iyera211 wrote:
Hi Egmat, in the example above, by omitting the word "does", doesn't the sentence read "Tom solves SC questions more efficiently than he solves Marie"?
By omitting "does", the sentence is really comparing X (how he solves SC questions) with Y (Marie).
That's not the intended meaning right?

Dear iyera211,
I'm happy to respond. My friend, comparisons involve parallelism, and contrary to popular opinion, parallelism is not primarily a grammatical structure. Instead, parallelism is primarily a logical structure, and logical relationships help to inform the parallelism.

The original sentence was:
Tom solves SC questions more efficiently than Marie does.
That's grammatically correct. If we drop the "does," the sentence is
Tom solves SC questions more efficiently than Marie.
I would call this an iffy example. The folks at e gmat suggested this, but I don't think it's the best example. I don't think something like this would be on the GMAT. We need to lean a little too much on the logic because the grammar leaves something unclear.

Consider this alternative: original sentence ---
I like baseball more than Chris does.
That's perfectly clear and unambiguous. If we drop "does," then we get
I like baseball more than Chris.
That sentence is thoroughly ambiguous now. It could be interpreted to have the same meaning as the original, or it could be interpreted as a statement of my preference of baseball over Chris. Dropping "does" is produces a trainwreck in this case.

This is a very tricky issue, what we can drop in parallelism. See the examples on this blog:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/dropping-c ... -the-gmat/

I hope this helps.
Mike
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12 Oct 2015, 15:40
It's tempting to say that the GMAT will or won't do something, but I'd strongly suggest we not take that line for this situation. Dropping the does leads to ambiguity. That is not reason enough to exclude an option from consideration. Make absolutely sure that you go through the other options as well.
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12 Sep 2016, 18:49
Hello,

Could you kindly tell me does omitted verb has to be same in number

e.g.
John runs as fast as his brothers.

as you have mentioned omitted verb should be present in sentence .here omitted verb is "run" whereas verb present in sentence is runs.

souvik101990 wrote:
Wrong: Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they are
Right: Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they do

Whenever you see stuffs omitted (ellipses and what not), you should try to fill up the void and see if it makes sense. Lets try to do that

Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they are________________________________
We can fill up this blank with "inspire envy" so the sentence becomes Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they are inspire envy. Pretty awful and wrong sentence isnt it?

Now lets look at the second one.
Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they do__________________________________________
We can fill up this blank using "inspire envy" so the sentence becomes Our cars were designed to inspire envy, and they do inspire envy. Sounds like a petty correct sentence to me isnt it?
Re: Ellipsis & Substitution   [#permalink] 12 Sep 2016, 18:49

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