Can anyone help me to find me the meaning of this sentence?
What I think is that understanding a sentence is really important for every GMAT test takers who are non-native.In this forum is it possible to include a section on sentence understanding?I and many other test takers are really strugglling to find the meaning of various types of complex sentences.Please help us...
The sentence is
The golliwog figure is a consistent image in his artwork, being placed on everyday objects, on paintings grinning nervously at the king, gawking in horror from children's faces, at times undergoing almost formalist destruction.
I'm not surprised that this sentence doesn't actually come from the GMAT because it doesn't "look" like a GMAT sentence. First of all, the word "being" is almost always incorrect on a GMAT sentence (nice little tip if you don't have other ways to eliminate answer choices). The pronoun "his" does not have any referent, meaning there isn't a noun to which his is referring. Also, the modifying portion of the sentence would take a parallel structure "placing..., grinning...., gawking...., and undergoing..."
If I were to write this sentence correctly in a GMAT style it would look like this: "Placed on everyday objects, the golliwog figure is seen as a consistent image in the artist's work and is found in strange formations, grinning nervously at the king, gawking in horror from children's faces, and undergoing almost formalist destruction."
The key to understanding GMAT sentences is to understand the structure. Here is an analysis of the sentence above:
'Placed on everyday objects' - This is a leading modifier that adds meaning to the sentence but is not a critical part of the sentence. Make sure that leading modifiers correctly modifier the noun that follows. Here the noun is 'the golliwog figure' and it is the correct noun to be modified.
'The golliwog figure' - This is the subject of the sentence.
'is seen...and is found' - These verbs are the main verbs of the sentence. The 'and' makes the verb forms parallel - pay attention to the word 'and'!
'as a consistent image' - This describes what the golliwog figure is seen as. The GMAT likes to make this part long and sometimes confusing so you don't think about the 'and' that creates parallelism.
'in strange formations' - Just adds detail to the 'is found' verb.
'grinning...., gawking..., and undergoing..." - This whole section of the sentence is a modifier. It modifies how the golliwog figure 'is found'. You have to recognize that the GMAT uses participles (-ING verb forms) after a comma to create modifying phrases. In my sentence above, the big "GMAT" issue with the modifier is parallelism with the verbs. You would have seen the GMAT vary the verbs to ruin parallelism (ie grinning, to gawk, and undergoing where 'to gawk' is not parallel). The GMAT could also move modifying phrases to mess up the meaning. For example, the leading modifier could move to the end of the sentence "undergoing almost formalist destruction, placed on everyday objects". In this case the modifier "placed on everyday objects" incorrectly modifies destruction because of it's placement.
In summary, if you want to get good at understanding meaning on GMAT sentences, do analysis on actual GMAT SC sentences. Try to identify different sentence parts: subject, verb, modifiers. Look for parallelism and watch how the placement of modifiers impact the meaning. When you begin, this analysis will take a lot of time, but with practice you will be able to see these different sentence parts naturally and very quickly. Once you can see the different sentence parts, you don't have to worry about the meaning of each word. Nobody knows what a golliwog is and the GMAT doesn't expect you to. Don't let crazy words throw you!
I hope that helps.
Kyle Widdison | Manhattan GMAT Instructor | Utah
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