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A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood

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Re: A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood  [#permalink]

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New post 18 May 2017, 19:48
GMATNinja wrote:
You know that I hate idioms, warriorguy! :lol:

I'm half-kidding. The lazy answer would be that "helpful to" is the incorrect idiom in this case, but that's not a very useful thing for me to say -- especially since "helped to" can be OK under different circumstances. To be honest, I'm struggling to find a way to explain the difference coherently, but I'll do my best.

Warning: the next two paragraphs really might not be useful at all -- and they definitely aren't important! :)

    "Helpful in" would be used to indicate purpose. The basic structure of the idiom is "X is helpful in verb-ing Y." Example: "A well-designed plan is helpful in achieving any goal". ("Helpful for" would be fine here, too.)

    But I think we only use "helpful to" in a funny passive structure like this one: "It is helpful to study with fellow GMAT Club members before taking the exam." Maybe somebody can correct me on this, but I think "helpful to" requires an "it is" type of construction. I don't think it makes sense to say "X is helpful to Y" or "X is helpful to accomplish Y" -- so the idiom in (D) and (E) are wrong.

(If those last two paragraphs didn't help, no problem. I wouldn't worry about those specific idioms. But this next part is a little bit more important...)

But here's the thing: whenever I'm unsure about an idiom, I try to avoid it entirely. Idioms are, by definition, arbitrary phrases that aren't based on generalizable rules -- and there are something like 40,000 idioms in the English language, depending on whom you ask. Sometimes, you'll know exactly which idioms are right and wrong, and that's great. But if you're not 100% sure, just see if you can find other definite, rule-based errors (as I did in my idiom-avoiding explanation above). A huge percentage of the time, you'll be able to completely dodge the idiom.

There's a little bit more on the topic of idioms in last Wednesday's verbal chat transcript: https://gmatclub.com/forum/verbal-chat- ... l#p1853539. If you find it useful, give Vyshak some kudos -- I'm impressed that he managed to compile the transcript while participating actively in the conversation!


Thanks GMATNinja.

Just to confirm that I understood correctly, 'helpful to' is not used to indicate purpose? Because I think I read somewhere that to-infinitive is used to indicate purpose.

Also, regarding the second paragraph, if we are to avoid idioms in a sentence, can we assume that idioms won't be the only factor tested in any GMAT question? :oops: :oops:
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Re: A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood  [#permalink]

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New post 19 May 2017, 14:26
1
Quote:
Just to confirm that I understood correctly, 'helpful to' is not used to indicate purpose? Because I think I read somewhere that to-infinitive is used to indicate purpose.


"To" is used in hundreds of idioms, and it's also part of the infinitive form of all verbs ("to eat", "to be", etc.). So you definitely wouldn't want to overgeneralize and say that "to" always indicates purpose. And don't overthink "helpful to" -- it's very unlikely that you'll have to analyze that particular idiom on your exam. Just be aware that it seems to be correct only in the phrase "it is helpful to (verb)..."

Quote:
Also, regarding the second paragraph, if we are to avoid idioms in a sentence, can we assume that idioms won't be the only factor tested in any GMAT question?

I wouldn't go that far! Sure, plenty of GMAT SC answer choices contain multiple errors, and you can often avoid worrying about the idiom entirely. But that doesn't mean that you can ALWAYS avoid the idiom. Sometimes, the idiom really is a deciding factor. My point is that if you're not clear about the idiom, the best policy is to look hard for other errors -- and TRY to dodge the idiom if you can. It will work a lot of the time, including in this example. But it's not going to work all of the time -- just most of the time.
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Re: A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood  [#permalink]

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New post 20 May 2017, 02:25
GMATNinja wrote:
You know that I hate idioms, warriorguy! :lol:

I'm half-kidding. The lazy answer would be that "helpful to" is the incorrect idiom in this case, but that's not a very useful thing for me to say -- especially since "helped to" can be OK under different circumstances. To be honest, I'm struggling to find a way to explain the difference coherently, but I'll do my best.

Warning: the next two paragraphs really might not be useful at all -- and they definitely aren't important! :)

    "Helpful in" would be used to indicate purpose. The basic structure of the idiom is "X is helpful in verb-ing Y." Example: "A well-designed plan is helpful in achieving any goal". ("Helpful for" would be fine here, too.)

    But I think we only use "helpful to" in a funny passive structure like this one: "It is helpful to study with fellow GMAT Club members before taking the exam." Maybe somebody can correct me on this, but I think "helpful to" requires an "it is" type of construction. I don't think it makes sense to say "X is helpful to Y" or "X is helpful to accomplish Y" -- so the idiom in (D) and (E) are wrong.

(If those last two paragraphs didn't help, no problem. I wouldn't worry about those specific idioms. But this next part is a little bit more important...)

But here's the thing: whenever I'm unsure about an idiom, I try to avoid it entirely. Idioms are, by definition, arbitrary phrases that aren't based on generalizable rules -- and there are something like 40,000 idioms in the English language, depending on whom you ask. Sometimes, you'll know exactly which idioms are right and wrong, and that's great. But if you're not 100% sure, just see if you can find other definite, rule-based errors (as I did in my idiom-avoiding explanation above). A huge percentage of the time, you'll be able to completely dodge the idiom.

There's a little bit more on the topic of idioms in last Wednesday's verbal chat transcript: https://gmatclub.com/forum/verbal-chat- ... l#p1853539. If you find it useful, give Vyshak some kudos -- I'm impressed that he managed to compile the transcript while participating actively in the conversation!


Thanks a lot, GMATNinja. That's exactly what I concern in this question. Actually, I did eliminate wrong choices without considering "helpful + in/to...". But of course, I find it useful to read your post regarding this issue.

Btw, with your experience, have you ever faced with a question that requires this "helpful..." consideration to solve? (I mean, a question that cannot be answered without considering this issue). If yes, then I am glad that you could point it out. This will help a lot. Thanks.
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Re: A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood  [#permalink]

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New post 23 May 2017, 10:15
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Btw, with your experience, have you ever faced with a question that requires this "helpful..." consideration to solve? (I mean, a question that cannot be answered without considering this issue). If yes, then I am glad that you could point it out. This will help a lot. Thanks.


Nope, I've never seen a case where you absolutely have to figure out which of these "helpful..." idioms is correct. I suppose that there's no reason why they couldn't test it explicitly, but they have thousands of idioms to choose from, and I have no real reason to think that this exact issue will make or break your GMAT score. So you can eliminate this from your list of worries! :)
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Re: A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood  [#permalink]

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New post 24 May 2017, 09:47
I think for OA C to be correct there must be a "," between blood supply and blood. It should look as mentioned below

in eliminating from the nation's blood supply, blood that is contaminated with the virus
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Re: A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood  [#permalink]

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New post 24 May 2017, 18:55
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sriamlan wrote:
I think for OA C to be correct there must be a "," between blood supply and blood. It should look as mentioned below

in eliminating from the nation's blood supply, blood that is contaminated with the virus


Hi, IMHO I think if a comma is inserted the way you mention, then the meaning will be changed.

A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating from the nation's blood supply, blood that is contaminated with the virus.

Separated by a comma, the word "blood" seems to modify "nation's blood supply"; it means the WHOLE nation's blood supply is contaminated with the virus. This is not intended meaning of the sentence.

Option (C): ....eliminate from B A (it could be rewritten as eliminate A from B)
A: blood that is contaminated with the virus
B: the nation's blood supply
When you put a comma in the sentence: .... eliminate from B, A....
Then it looks like A is no longer what is eliminated, but B (A=B).
Also, we will have to put a big question mark before the comma - eliminate what?

Sir GMATNinja please guide us on this concern and correct me if I'm wrong. Thank you.
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Re: A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jun 2017, 18:42
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Lucy Phuong wrote:
sriamlan wrote:
I think for OA C to be correct there must be a "," between blood supply and blood. It should look as mentioned below

in eliminating from the nation's blood supply, blood that is contaminated with the virus


Hi, IMHO I think if a comma is inserted the way you mention, then the meaning will be changed.

A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating from the nation's blood supply, blood that is contaminated with the virus.

Separated by a comma, the word "blood" seems to modify "nation's blood supply"; it means the WHOLE nation's blood supply is contaminated with the virus. This is not intended meaning of the sentence.

Option (C): ....eliminate from B A (it could be rewritten as eliminate A from B)
A: blood that is contaminated with the virus
B: the nation's blood supply
When you put a comma in the sentence: .... eliminate from B, A....
Then it looks like A is no longer what is eliminated, but B (A=B).
Also, we will have to put a big question mark before the comma - eliminate what?

Sir GMATNinja please guide us on this concern and correct me if I'm wrong. Thank you.


Sorry, Lucy -- I could have sworn that I responded to this, but I think I just gave you kudos and then forgot to hit the "submit" button on my response. Bad Ninja!

I think you're spot-on here. It's really subtle, but it sounds like that extra comma would make it sounds like the whole supply is contaminated. Tricky stuff!
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Re: A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Jul 2017, 01:36
GMATNinja

Could please help me with D ?? The THAT after blood refers to blood right ? So where did the virus come from ??
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Re: A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jul 2017, 13:11
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anuj11 wrote:
GMATNinja

Could please help me with D ?? The THAT after blood refers to blood right ? So where did the virus come from ??


It might help to compare (C) and (D) right next to each other:

    (C) in eliminating from the nation's blood supply blood that is contaminated with the virus
    (D) to eliminate blood that is contaminated with the virus from the nation's blood supply

In (C), it's 100% clear that the blood is contaminated with the virus -- and that we're eliminating that contaminated blood from the nation's blood supply. That's the entire point of the sentence: the blood that's contaminated with the virus must be eliminated from the nation's blood supply.

In (D), the sentence is flipped around in ways that don't quite make sense, and aren't as clear. First, it's literally saying that the virus is from the nation's blood supply, and that's really not the point -- presumably, the virus itself came from somewhere else before it landed in the blood supply. Second, (D) literally says that we're eliminating contaminated blood in general -- not necessarily contaminated blood that is in the nation's blood supply.

It's a subtle distinction, but enough to make (C) a better answer than (D).

I hope this helps!
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Re: A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Oct 2018, 04:15
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Helpful to or helpful in? To use such an eternal dilemma in a GMAT question is a trap by GMAT to lure some gullible test-takers who indiscriminately choose to approve the infinitive over the prepositional phrase. So be wary; forget the dilemma and look for more concrete deal closers.

A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood, contaminated with the virus, from the nation's blood supply.

(A) in eliminating blood, contaminated with the virus, from the nation's blood supply -- this choice weirdly suggests that the test helps in eliminating blood, from the nation's blood supply

(B) in eliminating blood from the nation's blood supply that is contaminated with the virus - -- This implies that the all of nation's blood supply is contaminated.

(C) in eliminating from the nation's blood supply blood that is contaminated with the virus---The modification is amply clear. Now the test helps to eliminate only the blood that is contaminated but not all. The correct choice by intended meaning.

D) to eliminate blood that is contaminated with the virus from the nation's blood supply -- This means that the virus comes from the nation's blood supply.

(E) to eliminate blood from the nation's blood supply that is contaminated with the virus --- Seems to say that the nation's blood supply is contaminated with the virus.

Nice practice question. Kudos to GMATPREP
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Re: A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Oct 2018, 07:30
GMATNinja wrote:
Seeing lots of good explanations here already! But also a little bit of disagreement.

Quote:
(A) in eliminating blood, contaminated with the virus, from the nation's blood supply


I don't see anything wrong here grammatically. Some test-takers like to skip ahead, eliminate anything with definite grammar errors, and then circle back to choices such as (A) that don't have any obvious mechanical errors -- and that's not a bad approach at all!

But whenever you get to (A), the problem is that the modifier tweaks the meaning of the sentence. It sounds like the test eliminates all blood from the nation's blood supply, and the modifier inside the commas ("contaminated with the virus") is presented as extra, non-essential information that just describes the blood. And that doesn't make sense: the test will be helpful in eliminating only the contaminated blood, not all of the blood. (A) is gone.

Quote:
(B) in eliminating blood from the nation's blood supply that is contaminated with the virus


This one has a much clearer modifier error. The phrase "that is contaminated with the virus" modifies the noun it "touches": "the nation's blood supply." And that doesn't make sense, either, since we can't really say that the entire blood supply is contaminated. Eliminate (B).

Quote:
(C) in eliminating from the nation's blood supply blood that is contaminated with the virus


Wow, this sounds like hot garbage. I used to manage a team of writers, and if any of them had written this, I would have wondered if they were drunk or something. I don't think anybody would ever actually say this sentence in real life. It sounds terrible.

But your ear is not your friend on the GMAT! The important thing is that I don't see any grammatical errors or any meaning errors. "That" jumps out at me, but it's used well here: the blood is contaminated with the virus, not the entire supply. I guess we'll have to keep this piece of hot garbage -- it's not wrong. And we're always looking for four wrong answers, not one right answer. Since it has no clear mistakes, let's keep (C).

Quote:
(D) to eliminate blood that is contaminated with the virus from the nation's blood supply


(D) doesn't make logical sense, either. Strictly and literally, the sentence seems to be saying that the virus came from the nation's blood supply. That doesn't work. Eliminate (D).

Quote:
(E) to eliminate blood from the nation's blood supply that is contaminated with the virus


Same error as (B): the phrase beginning with "that" modifies the nation's blood supply, and that doesn't make sense. (E) is gone, too.

So (C) wins. In "real life", it's a lousy sentence, in my opinion. But the GMAT doesn't care: the other four answer choices have clear meaning errors, so we're stuck with crappy answer choice (C).



sir isn't comma missing in option C
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Re: A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Oct 2018, 04:16
A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood, contaminated with the virus, from the nation's blood supply.


(A) in eliminating blood, contaminated with the virus, from the nation's blood supply

(B) in eliminating blood from the nation's blood supply that is contaminated with the virus

(C) in eliminating from the nation's blood supply blood that is contaminated with the virus

(D) to eliminate blood that is contaminated with the virus from the nation's blood supply

(E) to eliminate blood from the nation's blood supply that is contaminated with the virus
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Re: A new test for AIDS has proved helpful in eliminating blood   [#permalink] 17 Oct 2018, 04:16

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