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# About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy

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Updated on: 04 Dec 2018, 08:18
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About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering rangeland worthless.

(A) States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering

(B) States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering

(C) States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia having milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle and displacing grasses and other cattle food, rendering

(D) States, having been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displaces grasses and other cattle food, and renders

(E) States, having been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia that has milky sap giving mouth sores to cattle and displacing grasses and other cattle food, rendering

The Official Guide for GMAT Review 2018
Practice Question
Sentence Correction
Question No.: 751

https://www.nytimes.com/1998/06/09/science/rootin-shootin-raiders-conquer-native-ground.html

LEAFY SPURGE. About five million acres in 26 states, including New York, have been invaded by leafy spurge, an herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering range land worthless. Ranchers tried putting sheep on spurge-infested range. Although they eat the plant, they do not kill it and there is not enough of a market for sheep wool and meat. So about 13 insects have been imported to help control it. Dr. Neal Spencer, an entomologist at a Department of Agriculture research laboratory in Sidney, Mont., said flea beetles had been most effective. The adult beetles feed on the leaves and their larvae mine the roots.

Leafy Spurge

(A) Modifier / Meaning (displacing)

(B) CORRECT

(C) Modifier (displacing)

(D) Subject-Verb / Meaning (displaces, renders)

(E) Structure; Parallelism (X and Y)

First glance

The opening split is between States have been and States, having been. In the former, the verb is in main-verb form; in the latter, the verb form is a modifier. Examine sentence structure and modifiers.

Issues

(1) Modifier / Meaning: displacing
Structure; Parallelism: X and Y

First, a warning: This is an extremely difficult problem. If you were able to eliminate a couple of answer choices before you guessed, you can feel good about this problem.

The underlined portion consists of a series of modifiers. The original sentence contains a pair of parallel comma –ing modifiers: displacing … and rendering. These should modify the main action of the clause to which they are attached—in this case, the sap that gives mouth sores to cattle. The fact, however, that the plant’s sap … gives mouth sores to cattle is not what displaces grasses and other cattle food. Rather, this plant is invasive—it grows everywhere and takes over. That is why it has displaced other grasses. Eliminate choice (A) for faulty modifier meaning.

Choices (C) and (E) also use the –ing word displacing so check them for similar issues.

Answer (C) uses the parallel structure having … and displacing. The having portion disguises the later issue; remove it and look at just the second part of the parallel structure:

(C) a plant from Eurasia … displacing grasses and other cattle food, rendering rangeland worthless

The first –ing form, displacing, is no longer preceded by a comma, so it is a noun modifier in this sentence. That part might be okay. The word rendering, though, is still a comma –ing, so it still needs to refer to a clause. Displacing is not a verb, though; it’s a modifier. To what clause is the rendering modifier referring? The main clause says that 5 million acres have been invaded by leafy spurge; it could be acceptable to say that this is what rendered the rangeland worthless, though the modifier is awfully far from the clause to which it refers. Typically, modifiers should be placed close enough to what they’re modifying that you don’t have to think so hard about it.

Compare this to choice (B): in that choice, the spurge displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering rangeland worthless. This structure is much more specific and clear: if you get lose grasses and cattle food, then rangeland (meant to feed cattle) definitely does lose its value. Eliminate choice (C) for an ambiguous comma –ing modifier.

Answer (E) has two issues jumbled together. First, and displacing needs some other parallel word to match before the and. There are two possible –ing words (having or giving), but this highlights an even bigger issue: where is the main verb for the subject 5 million acres? Having is not a main verb, nor is giving, displacing, or rendering. Has milky sap describes the plant, not the 5 million acres. There is no main verb for the main subject of the sentence. Eliminate choice (E) because it is a sentence fragment.

(2) Subject-Verb / Meaning: displaces, renders

The issues described above for choice (E) may help you to spot the error in choice (D). What is the main verb for 5 million acres in this choice? The only verbs that could qualify are displaces and renders, but these are both singular verbs, while the subject 5 million acres is plural. Eliminate choice (D) for faulty subject-verb agreement.

Correct answer (B) fixes the modifier issues in other choices by having the comma –ing modifier rendering … refer to the clause that … displaces grasses and other cattle food. Gives and displaces are properly parallel.

The with milky sap phrase seems very odd. On hard questions, it’s not uncommon for there to be an element that seems wrong or sounds funny; the test writers are trying to give you a reason to cross off the correct answer.

As mentioned earlier, this is an extremely difficult problem. If you were able to eliminate some choices, particularly (D) and (E), before you guessed, you can feel good about this problem even if you did not guess correctly. Just be careful not to spend too much time on a problem like this one; guess and move on.

Originally posted by AbdurRakib on 13 Jun 2017, 11:25.
Last edited by Bunuel on 04 Dec 2018, 08:18, edited 7 times in total.
Edited the question.
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14 Jun 2017, 09:01
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sevenplusplus wrote:
could anyone explain how A is wrong?

Hello sevenplusplus,

Let's take a look at the original sentence:

About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering rangeland worthless.

(Blue = subject, Green = verb, Pink = comma + verb-ing modifiers)

Let's understand what the sentence intends to convey. The sentence states that in the US, some 5 million acres of land have been invaded leafy spurge. Describing the leafy spurge, the sentence states that it's a plant from Eurasia. It has milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle. This leafy spurge displaces grasses and other cattle food and renders rangeland worthless.

However, the way this sentence is worded, it suggests that because leafy spurge gives mouth sores to cattle, it displaces grasses and other cattle food and has rendered rangeland worthless.

We get this illogical meaning from the sentence because of the incorrect usage of the comma + verb-ing modifiers* displacing and rendering.

The comma + verb-ing modifier must modify the preceding action logically and must also make sense with the doer of the modified action.

In this official sentence, the comma + verb-ing modifiers displacing and rendering illogically modifies the preceding action gives by presenting the result of this action. Grasses and other cattle food are not displaced and rangeland are not rendered worthless because leafy spurge gives mouth sores to cattle.

This is the reason why Choice A is incorrect.

From the context of the sentence, we can understand that because leafy spurge displaces grasses and other cattle food, rangeland are rendered useless. So we do have this logical cause-and-effect in the sentence that must be communicated in correct grammar.

Let's evaluate Choice B now:

About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering rangeland worthless.

This choice correctly conveys the logical intended meaning. The comma + verb-ing modifier displacing has been turned to simple present tense verb displaces. The comma + verb-ing modifier rendering correctly modifies the preceding action displaces, presenting the result of this action. Because the leafy spurge displaces grasses and other cattle food, it renders rangeland worthless.

*The correct usage of comma + verb-ing has been covered in great details and with pertinent examples in our SC course, In fact, this concept features in the Free Trail course offered by e-GMAT. You can register for free at e-gmat.com and review the concept.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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13 Jun 2017, 15:13
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sevenplusplus wrote:
could anyone explain how A is wrong?

I am not an expert, but the way I understood the question is "leafy spurge" has 2 negative effects - it gives mouth sores to cattle and also displaces grasses and other cattle food. As far as I understand in option A the intended meaning is that it gives mouth sores to cattle and, by doing that, displaces grasses and other cattle food.
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14 Jun 2017, 18:07
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Full disclosure: I totally got punked by this one during our last verbal chat. Join us for the next one! https://gmatclub.com/forum/verbal-chat- ... 78-20.html I mean, it's fun to see a guy with an 800 get embarrassed, right?

As some others have pointed out, this one is all about the intersection of structure and meaning. (And there are already some excellent explanations here, but, well, I promised to write one as penance, so here you go.)

Quote:
A. States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering

I really only notice two things in (A). "That gives mouth sores to cattle" seems to modify "milky sap", and I guess that's OK.

But then at the end of the sentence gives us a pair of parallel "-ing" modifiers, "displacing grasses... and rendering rangeland worthless." And what do they modify?

Hold that thought. We'll come back to that in a second.

Quote:
B. States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering

OK, so the added commas around "with milky sap" change things just a tiny bit: "that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses..." now clearly modifies "a herbaceous plant from Eurasia." Hm, that makes a lot of sense.

And now "rendering" clearly modifies the preceding clause, "that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food." That also makes a lot of sense: rangeland is rendered useless by this evil plant that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces their food sources.

Back to (A), then:
Quote:
A. States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering

So wait: in (A), it's the milky sap that gives the mouth sores to cattle -- not the leafy spurge itself, as (B) would indicate. In that sense, (B) seems to be a slightly better choice. It's a bigger problem, presumably, if the entire plant gives mouth sores to cattle.

More importantly: "displacing grasses and rendering rangeland useless", would generally modify the preceding clause. And that's pretty illogical in (A): "that gives mouth sores to cattle" has absolutely nothing to do with "displacing grasses." And in that sense, (B) is much clearer.

So (A) is gone. And the rest are easier to eliminate:

Quote:
C. States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia having milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle and displacing grasses and other cattle food, rendering

Parallelism in (C) is clearly wrong: "... and displacing grasses" is parallel to what, exactly? "Having milky sap", I guess? That's a mess. We can comfortably eliminate (C).

Quote:
D. States, having been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displaces grasses and other cattle food, and renders

I really don't love "having been invaded" in this case. In general, "having + verb" needs to be the first of two actions, and that's just not happening here. (For more on this topic, see our last chat transcript.)

Also, the parallelism at the end of the sentence isn't ideal: "... with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displaces grasses..., and renders rangeland worthless." The sap displaces grasses? That doesn't make sense. (D) is gone.

Quote:
E. States, having been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia that has milky sap giving mouth sores to cattle and displacing grasses and other cattle food, rendering

(E) is similar to (D): "having been" doesn't seem quite right, and "giving mouth sores to cattle" is parallel to "displacing grasses", suggesting that the milky sap displaces grasses -- and that doesn't make sense. (E) is gone, too, and (B) is our winner.
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19 Jun 2018, 08:01
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this question serves well to illustrate one of the most important features of GMAT SC: if you stay focused on FUNDAMENTALS — and stay aware of the common-sense INTENDED MEANING of the sentence (which you should always figure out as the very first step of any SC problem), you'll be able to solve the vast majority of SC problems — even the "hard" ones — without needing to consider anything beyond those basics.

for this problem, all we need is overall structure, parallelism, and the usage of comma + __ing modifiers (= the single most commonly tested type of modifier in GMAT SC).

.

OVERALL STRUCTURE:

the cue to think about overall structure is the difference between "HAVE been invaded" (a VERB), in choices A/B/C, and "HAVING been invaded" (a MODIFIER), in choices D/E.
(if you see this kind of difference, then one version MUST be wrong. if the verb works, then the modifier will create a sentence fragment with no verb; if the modifier works, then the verb will create a run-on sentence with two verbs "stuck together".)

here, choices D/E are not sentences — they're fragments, with no main verb.
eliminate these.

choices A/B/C, on the other hand, ARE constructed as legitimate complete sentences.

.

PARALLELISM & COMMA __ING modifiers:

each of choices A/B/C puts different elements in parallel. these choices also construct the comma + __ing modifier differently.
to decide which version is correct, we'll need to appeal to common-sense meaning.

CHOICE A:
in this choice, the comma + __ing modifier has two parts (which are written in parallel): "displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering rangeland worthless".
this modifier implies that BOTH of these __ing's modify "gives mouth sores to cattle" (the action of the preceding clause).
this is NONSENSE — it's clearly not possible for "displacing grasses and other cattle food" to be any sort of reasonable description or immediate consequence of the mouth sores.
eliminate.

CHOICE B:
this choice puts two actions in parallel: "gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food". also, comma + "rendering rangeland worthless" modifies "displaces grasses and other cattle food" (= the preceding action).
all of this MAKES SENSE!
• the parallel verbs are two DIFFERENT/SEPARATE things that leafy spurge does;
• "rendering rangeland worthless" is an IMMEDIATE CONSEQUENCE of the displacement of food, and thus makes sense as a modifier of that action.

CHOICE C:
this choice puts two modifiers in parallel: "having milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle and displacing grasses and other cattle food".
this is NONSENSE.
in this sentence, the parallel elements SHOULD be the TWO ADVERSE ACTIONS of leafy spurge:
• it gives mouth sores to cattle,
• it displaces cattle food.
these items are NONparallel here. instead, this choice uses a parallel structure to connect two items that just don't make any sense as "two bullet points".
eliminate.
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14 Jun 2017, 05:07
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The question checks the meaning and parallelism.

Parallel elements are
gives mouth sores to cattle
displacing grasses and other cattle food and
rendering

Here the leaf spurge performs two actions
gives mouth sores to cattle
displace grasses and other cattle food

The effect of the second action(displace grasses and other cattle food) causes the third rendering rangeland worthless.

So rendering rangeland worthless is a modifier, not an action
So B is the correct option
The other option either considers three parallel elements or causes meaning ambiguity
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13 Jun 2017, 13:20
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In B , it seems like "that" is pointing to Eurasia not milky sap..
If B is correct,can some please justify usage of that here..

Comma + that is worrying me in option B ...

Posted from my mobile device
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14 Jun 2017, 09:43
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sobby wrote:
In B , it seems like "that" is pointing to Eurasia not milky sap..
If B is correct,can some please justify usage of that here..

Comma + that is worrying me in option B ...

Posted from my mobile device

Hello sobby,

Let me bring in here the sentence with Choice B:

About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering rangeland worthless.

In the above-mentioned sentence, it is the phrase with milky sap that has been enclosed between two commas. If we were to remove this phrase from the sentence, we would also remove the comma before with and the comma after sap. Hence, it is not so that the that clause is preceded by a comma.

The placement of the phrase with milky sap between the two commas implies this is just an additional information. The milky white sap does not necessarily give mouth sore to the cattle. It is the plant that does so.

Now let's talk about how that correctly modifies the noun entity a herbaceous plant. There is no issue in that modifying a herbaceous plant because the phrase from Eurasia modifies a herbaceous plant and cannot be placed anywhere else in the sentence. Here we see the case of a noun modifier modifying a slightly far away noun. We have a detailed article named Noun Modifiers can Modify slightly far away noun that deals with this concept. This article can be reviewed in the following link:
https://gmatclub.com/forum/noun-modifiers-can-modify-slightly-far-away-noun-135868.html

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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13 Jun 2017, 12:49
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My line of thoughts:
a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle
appositive for leafy spurge.

The sentence, after removing above appositive is correct:
About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering rangeland worthless.
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26 Dec 2017, 14:29
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thingocanhnguyen wrote:

Nice to read your answer. I also chose B because I have same logic with you, except the modifier " that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food". IMO, this modifier modifies for milky sap.

I don't understand why above modifier modifies for "leafy spurge". If we summarize the sentence, it should be "About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering...".

Please correct if I'm wrong. Thanks.

Hello thingocanhnguyen,

Please pay attention the meaning of the sentence.

Per he context of the sentence, we may think that the milky sap gives mouth sores to cattle. However, there is no confusion in understanding that leafy spurge displaces grasses and other cattle food.

Now look at the structure of Choice B. The verb gives and displaces are parallel and must belong to the same subject. The subject for these two verbs is that.

So logically, that must refer to leafy spurge because both the verbs make sense with this subject. It is absolutely logical to say that leafy spurge gives mouth sores to cattle, may be because of the milky sap it has.

In addition, whenever that is used to modify the immediate preceding noun entity, it is NEVER separated with that entity with a comma.

But in this choice, there is a comma between milky sap and that. Basically, both the modifiers - a herbaceous plant from Eurasia and with milky sap - are enclosed between commas because they just provide some additional information about the leafy spurge that are not crucial to core meaning of the sentence.

Hence, the noun modifier that jumps over the preceding modifiers and modify leafy spurge.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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03 Jun 2018, 14:11
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Skywalker18 wrote:

Hi Skywalker18!

Skywalker18 wrote:
1.In OA - B , that modifies a herbaceous plant from Eurasia or leafy spurge? I understand that CAN'T refer to "with milky sap" since its enclosed between commas.

The sentence is saying: leafy spurge = herbaceous plant with milky sap. So "milky sap" is technically modifying "plant", which in turn is part of a noun phrase modifying "leafy spurge".

Skywalker18 wrote:
2. The below is the perfect version stated by mcelroytutoring -
About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap, which gives mouth sores to cattle, displaces grasses and other cattle food, and renders rangeland worthless.
Is the parallelism here okay?

Yes, the parallelism here works We can interpret "gives...", "displaces...", and "renders..." as all modifying "leafy spurge", and so the parallelism here is consistent and makes sense.

Skywalker18 wrote:
3. In OA- B, the verb-ing modifier rendering modifies the preceding verb displaces or both the verbs gives and displaces that are parallel ?
About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering rangeland worthless

Here, "rendering" is modifying the whole phrase: "gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food".

I hope that helps!
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14 Apr 2019, 16:25
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testprep11 wrote:
Hi Expert,

Option B -
States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering

I crossed out this option because I thought a 'that' was required before 'displaces' to have a 'that verb1 AND that verb2' parallelism. Of course in the hindsight I realise by POE , option B seems the 'best' option , but I would really appreciate your response on a 'that AND that'usage here.

Also in general is there any difference in meaning when we say -
1 - that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food
2 - that gives mouth sores to cattle and that displaces grasses and other cattle food

Essentially when do we use 'that AND that' parallelism.

In this case, the clause beginning with "that" is a relative clause that modifies "a herbaceous plant from Eurasia." This relative clause has a subject, "that," which clearly goes with the verbs "gives" and "displaces," just as the the noun "plant" does in the following clause. The plant gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses.

So, while repeating "that" would not make the sentence clearly incorrect, there is no need to repeat "that."

So, when do we have to repeat "that"? We have to repeat "that" when the meaning that we want to convey would not be effectively conveyed unless "that" were repeated.

Consider the following sentences.

I told John that I had seen a man peering into the windows of the building and that the man had been wearing a blue hat.

I told John that I had seen a man peering into the windows of the building, and the man had been wearing a blue hat.

These two sentences are pretty similar, but mean different things.

The first conveys that I told John two things, that I had seen a man and that the man had been wearing a blue hat.

The second contains only one "that," and so, it conveys that I told John one thing, that I had seen a man, and it conveys that, in addition to my telling John about the man, the man had been wearing a blue hat. Because the second "that" is not included, the sentence does not convey that I told John that the man was wearing a blue hat.

Either version is correct, but they convey different things. So, if you want to convey that I told John two things, you have to use "that" twice.

Overall, it helps to realize that analyzing parallel structures tends to be more about considering logic and effectiveness of expression than about checking to see whether a structure is constructed according to some rule.
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13 Jun 2017, 16:00
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Vardan95 wrote:
sevenplusplus wrote:
could anyone explain how A is wrong?

I am not an expert, but the way I understood the question is "leafy spurge" has 2 negative effects - it gives mouth sores to cattle and also displaces grasses and other cattle food. As far as I understand in option A the intended meaning is that it gives mouth sores to cattle and, by doing that, displaces grasses and other cattle food.

Thanks for your reply, @Verdan95. I, still, feel like "displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering rangeland worthless." modifies "leafy spurge".
If you remove the appositive in red below, the sentence read correctly to me.
About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering rangeland worthless.
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16 Jun 2017, 05:03
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Excellent explanation, Shraddha. I have a couple of doubts though. I am truncating part of your solution
to lay stress on my doubts.
For choice A, there is no coma before rendering. How did you assume both rendering and displacing as coma + verb-ing modifier
when in fact coma is present only before displacing. Do you assume this because of parallelism?
Also want to understand if my noun + noun modifier is correct in option B: a herbaceous plant (noun) from euracia (noun modfier due to presence of from) modifies
leafy spurge - a noun. Also let me know of you omit phrases between coma to understand meaning better. There are just two many (comas) to complicate things in option B
WR,
Arpit

Can verbal expert please comment on this?

Thank you for the query.

Whenever two comma + verb-ing modifiers make a parallel list, the comma appears only before the first verb-ing modifier. This is a common usage across the GMAT SC section.

And yes, the connector and between displacing... and rendering... is the indicator that since they are part of a list and since displacing... is preceded by a comma, hence rendering... is also a comma + verb-ing modifier.

The phrase a herbaceous plant from Eurasia is not a Noun + Noun Modifier because a prepositional phrase is not exclusively a noun modifier. It modifies either a noun or an action, depending on the context of the sentence.

But yes, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia is a noun phrase that modifies the preceding noun leafy spurge. Again usage of noun phrases to describe a noun entity is common on GMAT SC.

Let's take a look at the sentence with choice B: About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering rangeland worthless.

So Arpit, just treat these commas as a pause points to read and understand the sentence better. Of course, the comma before rendering... defines the role of this entity in the sentence. But the other commas are really the pause points so that you can relate all the information properly to understand what the author wants to convey.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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26 Dec 2017, 14:09
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rma26 wrote:
egmat
I have a question. You wrote " The comma + verb-ing modifier displacing has been turned to simple present tense verb displaces. The comma + verb-ing modifier rendering correctly modifies the preceding action displaces, presenting the result of this action. Because the leafy spurge displaces grasses and other cattle food, it renders rangeland worthless. "
But I thought in correct ssentence "rendering" modifies its previous clause's two actions that are "gives mouth.. " and "displaces". However, from your sentence it seems to me that only "displaces" is the reason.So I feel confused. If two verb are jointed by and, will modifier only modify last verb?!

Posted from my mobile device

Hello rma26,

I apologize for answering this question so late. But as they say better late than never.

Per the rule, the comma + verb-ing modifier modifies the IMMEDIATE preceding action. So if there are two verbs associated with and, as we see in this official sentence, the comma + verb-ing modifier will modify the closest action.

This is the reason why in this official correct sentence, comma + rendering... modifies the closest action displaces.

Following correct official sentence is another example of the same usage:

To map Earth's interior, geologists use a network of seismometers to chart seismic waves that originate in the earth's crust and ricochet around its interior, traveling most rapidly through cold, dense regions and more slowly through hotter rocks.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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Updated on: 04 Jun 2018, 07:09
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About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering rangeland worthless.

A) States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering
B) States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering
C) States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia having milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle and displacing grasses and other cattle food, rendering
D) States, having been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displaces grasses and other cattle food, and renders
E) States, having been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia that has milky sap giving mouth sores to cattle and displacing grasses and other cattle food, rendering

This is perhaps the worst official GMAT SC question I have ever seen: the OA of B is still the best choice due to verb parallelism / meaning issues, but it is wordy and horribly punctuated.

Sometimes on the GMAT, the "best" choice is pretty darn far from the perfect version.

My perfect version: About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap, which gives mouth sores to cattle, displaces grasses and other cattle food, and renders rangeland worthless.

Also, in the 2018 OG the phrase "a herbaceous plant from Eurasia" is in italics in Choice B for some reason.

-Brian

Originally posted by mcelroytutoring on 19 Apr 2018, 17:06.
Last edited by mcelroytutoring on 04 Jun 2018, 07:09, edited 2 times in total.
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02 Jun 2018, 19:20
1
GMATNinja wrote:
Full disclosure: I totally got punked by this one during our last verbal chat. Join us for the next one! https://gmatclub.com/forum/verbal-chat- ... 78-20.html I mean, it's fun to see a guy with an 800 get embarrassed, right?

As some others have pointed out, this one is all about the intersection of structure and meaning. (And there are already some excellent explanations here, but, well, I promised to write one as penance, so here you go.)

Quote:
A. States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering

I really only notice two things in (A). "That gives mouth sores to cattle" seems to modify "milky sap", and I guess that's OK.

But then at the end of the sentence gives us a pair of parallel "-ing" modifiers, "displacing grasses... and rendering rangeland worthless." And what do they modify?

Hold that thought. We'll come back to that in a second.

Quote:
B. States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering

OK, so the added commas around "with milky sap" change things just a tiny bit: "that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses..." now clearly modifies "a herbaceous plant from Eurasia." Hm, that makes a lot of sense.

And now "rendering" clearly modifies the preceding clause, "that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food." That also makes a lot of sense: rangeland is rendered useless by this evil plant that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces their food sources.

Back to (A), then:
Quote:
A. States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering

So wait: in (A), it's the milky sap that gives the mouth sores to cattle -- not the leafy spurge itself, as (B) would indicate. In that sense, (B) seems to be a slightly better choice. It's a bigger problem, presumably, if the entire plant gives mouth sores to cattle.

More importantly: "displacing grasses and rendering rangeland useless", would generally modify the preceding clause. And that's pretty illogical in (A): "that gives mouth sores to cattle" has absolutely nothing to do with "displacing grasses." And in that sense, (B) is much clearer.

So (A) is gone. And the rest are easier to eliminate:

Quote:
C. States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia having milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle and displacing grasses and other cattle food, rendering

Parallelism in (C) is clearly wrong: "... and displacing grasses" is parallel to what, exactly? "Having milky sap", I guess? That's a mess. We can comfortably eliminate (C).

Quote:
D. States, having been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displaces grasses and other cattle food, and renders

I really don't love "having been invaded" in this case. In general, "having + verb" needs to be the first of two actions, and that's just not happening here. (For more on this topic, see our last chat transcript.)

Also, the parallelism at the end of the sentence isn't ideal: "... with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displaces grasses..., and renders rangeland worthless." The sap displaces grasses? That doesn't make sense. (D) is gone.

Quote:
E. States, having been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia that has milky sap giving mouth sores to cattle and displacing grasses and other cattle food, rendering

(E) is similar to (D): "having been" doesn't seem quite right, and "giving mouth sores to cattle" is parallel to "displacing grasses", suggesting that the milky sap displaces grasses -- and that doesn't make sense. (E) is gone, too, and (B) is our winner.

egmat wrote:
Hello hellosanthosh2k2,

I apologize for answering this question so late. But as they say better late than never,

The noun modifier that in the correct answer choice refers to a little far-away noun entity leafy spurge. Take a good look at the structure of Choice B. Whenever that is used to modify the immediate preceding noun entity, it is NEVER separated with that entity with a comma.

But in this choice, here is a comma between milky sap and that. Basically, both the modifiers - a herbaceous plant from Eurasia and with milky sap - are enclosed between commas because they just provide some additional information about the leafy spurge that are not crucial to core meaning of the sentence.

Hence, the noun modifier that jumps over the preceding modifiers and modify leafy spurge.

Please review our very famous article Noun Modifiers can Modify slightly far away noun to learn when noun modifiers can modify a slightly far-away nouns by clicking on the following link:
https://gmatclub.com/forum/noun-modifiers-can-modify-slightly-far-away-noun-135868.html

Hope this helps.
Thanks.

egmat wrote:
Hello rma26,

I apologize for answering this question so late. But as they say better late than never.

Per the rule, the comma + verb-ing modifier modifies the IMMEDIATE preceding action. So if there are two verbs associated with and, as we see in this official sentence, the comma + verb-ing modifier will modify the closest action.

This is the reason why in this official correct sentence, comma + rendering... modifies the closest action displaces.
Following correct official sentence is another example of the same usage:

To map Earth's interior, geologists use a network of seismometers to chart seismic waves that originate in the earth's crust and ricochet around its interior, traveling most rapidly through cold, dense regions and more slowly through hotter rocks.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.

mcelroytutoring wrote:
This is perhaps the worst official GMAT SC question I have ever seen: the OA of B is still the best choice due to verb parallelism / meaning issues, but it is wordy and horribly punctuated.

Sometimes on the GMAT, the "best" choice is pretty darn far from the perfect version.

My perfect version: About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap, which gives mouth sores to cattle, displaces grasses and other cattle food, and renders rangeland worthless.

Also, in the 2018 OG the phrase "a herbaceous plant from Eurasia" is in italics in Choice B for some reason.

-Brian

AjiteshArun , GMATNinja , mikemcgarry , egmat , sayantanc2k, RonPurewal , DmitryFarber , MagooshExpert , ccooley , GMATNinjaTwo , mcelroytutoring , daagh , other experts -- please enlighten.

1.In OA - B , that modifies a herbaceous plant from Eurasia or leafy spurge? I understand that "THAT" CAN'T refer to "with milky sap" since its enclosed between commas.

2. The below is the perfect version stated by mcelroytutoring -
About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap, which gives mouth sores to cattle, displaces grasses and other cattle food, and renders rangeland worthless.
Is the parallelism here okay?

3. In OA- B, the verb-ing modifier rendering modifies the preceding verb displaces or both the verbs gives and displaces that are parallel ?
About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering rangeland worthless

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03 Jun 2018, 21:25
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AjiteshArun wrote:
Hi Skywalker,

1. The that refers to a herbaceous plant from Eurasia. It cannot refer to leafy spurge as we want a specific type of plant, not a specific type of leafy spurge (which happens to be the name of a particular thing). For example:

(a) ...farmland has been invaded by leafy spurge that affects cattle.
(b) ...farmland has been invaded by leafy spurge, a plant that affects cattle.

2. Yes, there is both ambiguity and loss of meaning in this version. The sentence is really trying to say that the plant does something, and as a result, renders something worthless. If we switch to a series of 3 verbs, the sentence will imply that the plant separately renders rangeland worthless.

3. Even though in this case it does makes sense to view the rendering... bit as being the result of the displacing of grasses and other cattle food, I am not aware of any rule restricting the impact of the ing to one specific element in the sentence.

Ajitesh

MagooshExpert wrote:
Skywalker18 wrote:
3. In OA- B, the verb-ing modifier rendering modifies the preceding verb displaces or both the verbs gives and displaces that are parallel ?
About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering rangeland worthless

Here, "rendering" is modifying the whole phrase: "gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food".

I hope that helps!
-Carolyn

1. So whether a verb-ing modifier modifies only the preceding action or both actions will depend on the logic of the sentence ?

e-gmat -->Per the rule, the comma + verb-ing modifier modifies the IMMEDIATE preceding action. So if there are two verbs associated with and, as we see in this official sentence, the comma + verb-ing modifier will modify the closest action.

To map Earth's interior, geologists use a network of seismometers to chart seismic waves that originate in the earth's crust and ricochet around its interior, traveling most rapidly through cold, dense regions and more slowly through hotter rocks.

In the above official example, the Verb-ing traveling only makes sense with the verb ricochet.

2. Also , in OA- B and in general , is it possible for a THAT modifier to jump across two modifiers , a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, ?
I know that THAT modifier can jump when there is one modifier enclosed between two commas .

I 'm looking for a TV, with a remote, that costs less than \$200. -- here the comma before "THAT" isn't actually part of the main structure at all . It's used only to block off the modifier.

About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering rangeland worthless.

AjiteshArun , GMATNinja , mikemcgarry , egmat , sayantanc2k, RonPurewal , DmitryFarber , MagooshExpert , ccooley -- please enlighten
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08 Jun 2018, 18:32
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Let me simply say this: it's questions like these that make me feel better about having scored "only" 48/51 in Verbal (1 wrong) instead of a perfect 51.

Not every GMAC official question is fully fair or perfectly written, especially on Verbal, and this "leafy spurge" question is a great example of that. Luckily, you can get around 5 wrong on Verbal and still earn a 96% score of V42 (around 3 or fewer wrong for 99% or above: V45+).

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06 Aug 2018, 15:23
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Hello Everyone!

Here is another great sample GMAT question! Let's take a closer look at each option and see where we can narrow things down to find the right answer! First, here is the original sentence, with any major differences highlighted in orange:

About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering rangeland worthless.

(A) States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering
(B) States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering
(C) States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia having milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle and displacing grasses and other cattle food, rendering
(D) States, having been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displaces grasses and other cattle food, and renders
(E) States, having been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia that has milky sap giving mouth sores to cattle and displacing grasses and other cattle food, rendering

There are a couple major differences we can see after a quick glance over the options:

2. parallel structure

Let's start with #1 on our list because it will eliminate either 2 or 3 options right off the bat: have been invaded vs. having been invaded.

If we read through each option and look for the complete sentence within it, we find a problem:

(A) About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering rangeland worthless.
(B) About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering rangeland worthless.
(C) About 5 million acres in the United States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia having milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle and displacing grasses and other cattle food, rendering rangeland worthless.

Options A, B, & C are OK so far because there is a complete sentence somewhere in there, with just a few added phrases after it to add detail.

(D) About 5 million acres in the United States, having been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displaces grasses and other cattle food, and renders rangeland worthless.

This option is INCORRECT because, while you could argue there is a complete sentence here, it is vastly different than the intended meaning! The leafy spurge does all of these things, not the land itself!

(E) About 5 million acres in the United States, having been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia that has milky sap giving mouth sores to cattle and displacing grasses and other cattle food, rendering rangeland worthless.

This option is INCORRECT because there is no other phrase here that has a verb to complete the rest of the sentence! Therefore, this is one very long sentence fragment!

We can eliminate answers D & E because using the phrase "having been invaded" creates either a sentence fragment or distorts the original meaning.

Now that we're left with options A, B, & C, let's tackle #3 on our list: parallel structure.

We know that leafy spurge does 3 things:
1. gives cattle mouth sores
2. displaces grass and other cattle food
3. renders rangeland worthless

In some options, all 3 items are listed as happening at the same time (A, B, and C). For those, all 3 items must use parallel structure.
In other options, only 2 items are listed, and #3 on the list happens as a result of #1 and #2 (A and B, causing C). In that case, only #1 and #2 on the list must be parallel.

Let's see how each option stacks up in terms of parallel structure:

(A) States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia with milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle, displacing grasses and other cattle food and rendering

This option is INCORRECT because the listed items don't use parallel structure. In this case, the sentence lists all 3 items as happening at the same time, so all 3 must be parallel!

(B) States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia, with milky sap, that gives mouth sores to cattle and displaces grasses and other cattle food, rendering

This option is CORRECT! The two items (gives mouth sores / displaces grasses) use parallel format. The word "rendering" doesn't need to be parallel to the other two here because it is being used to indicate that #1 and #2 on the list lead to #3 happening, so it's okay to keep it the way it is.

(C) States have been invaded by leafy spurge, a herbaceous plant from Eurasia having milky sap that gives mouth sores to cattle and displacing grasses and other cattle food, rendering

This option is INCORRECT because the two items (gives / displacing) need to be in parallel format!

There you go! Option B is the correct answer because it uses parallel structure where needed, and includes a verb to make it a complete thought!

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