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Verb+ing Modifier - Conceptual Clarity

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Re: Verb+ing Modifier - Conceptual Clarity [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2014, 02:47
I was alerted to the existence of this thread through the MGMAT grapevine.

This quote captures the essence of the issue:
neha24 wrote:
to mike
also please note that RON in that post is saying that comma + verb ing modifier must always make make sense with the subject of the previous clause,a situation which you are saying that at times might not be followed


Very careful, very exact usage of "__ing" modifiers requires that the previous subject be the agent of the __ing action. (Usually this agency is, in some way or another, indirect. Otherwise, it would make more sense to use a normal subject-verb pair, rather than an __ing that modifies another, more direct action.)

E.g.,

Ryan was cheated by the other poker players, throwing his wife into a fit of rage.
--> Here, Ryan's wife is mad at Ryan, presumably for being guileless or trusting enough to allow the others to cheat him.

The other poker players cheated Ryan, throwing his wife into a fit of rage.
--> Ryan's wife is mad at the other players for their cheating.

If this reasoning is extended to the problem at hand, it's clear that "crime" can't sensibly be the subject that precedes the __ing modifier. Crime itself, after all, is not ultimately responsible for the rise in property values.
(To confound matters further, the same can't be said for all decreases. E.g., The value of the dollar fell steeply, prompting panicked investors to drop dollar-denominated assets: This sentence makes sense, because, ultimately, investors were still reacting to the value of the dollar. By contrast, in the current situation, property values have not changed in response to crime itself; they have changed in response to the absence of crime.)

In the current sentence, for this kind of modifier to work as it should, the ultimately responsible force should appear as the preceding subject: An increased police presence has lowered crime in the neighborhood, leading to a rise in property values.

--

Ultimately, the question is just how meticulously GMAC follows this convention—a question I can't immediately answer, as it would require an exhaustive search through all of the __ing modifiers in GMAC's correct answers.
If GMAC follows this rule to the letter throughout its correct answers, then it's safe to conclude that Crime has decreased... cannot logically be followed by the __ing modifier. If GMAC seems to countenance similar usages, though, we'd conclude the opposite.

Perhaps most importantly, if anyone is capable of debating modifier usage at this level, he or she might be best advised to quit debating, close the books, and go take the exam!
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Re: Verb+ing Modifier - Conceptual Clarity [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2014, 09:34
Expert's post
RonPurewal wrote:
Ultimately, the question is just how meticulously GMAC follows this convention—a question I can't immediately answer, as it would require an exhaustive search through all of the __ing modifiers in GMAC's correct answers.
If GMAC follows this rule to the letter throughout its correct answers, then it's safe to conclude that Crime has decreased... cannot logically be followed by the __ing modifier. If GMAC seems to countenance similar usages, though, we'd conclude the opposite.

Perhaps most importantly, if anyone is capable of debating modifier usage at this level, he or she might be best advised to quit debating, close the books, and go take the exam!

Dear Ron Purewal,
First of all, thank you very much for responding. With all due respect, I beg to differ. The MGMAT SC book, in which "crime has decreased ..." appears as a correct sentence (5th ed, Vol 8, p. 90), as well as other authoritative texts (e.g. The Oxford English Grammar) say that the present participle can act as an adverbial phrase and modify not just an individual noun but a clause as a whole. It seems to me that this is a possibility you were not considering in your analysis. What would you say about this interpretation of the "crime has decreased ..." sentence?

I did a very cursory scan of the sentences in the OG13, and found none in which this issue is directly tested. Obviously, one would have to check through all the questions in GMAT prep and other official sources to be sure, but I suspect that the GMAT simply sidesteps this potentially contentious issue. The folks at GMAC seem to avoid assiduously any areas over which well-informed parties might disagree.

Thank you once again for your response.

Mike
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Re: Verb+ing Modifier - Conceptual Clarity   [#permalink] 14 Apr 2014, 09:34
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