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As _____ As: Comparisons in Focus [#permalink]
Hi AndrewN, thanks for putting those questions together! A lifesaver for me. :thumbsup:

As you know I was new to GMAT. For the first time I read the Manhattan grammar book, I thought I knew the comparison. But after I met those questions, I feel that I know LITTLE about the monsters. I am struggling with those comparisons all these days. I failed three of the four questions at the first attempt. The thing that drove me crazy is not the "as...as..." comparison, but the omitted words in the second half of the comparison, no matter if it is for "as...as..." or "more than". I hope you would kindly shed some light on my questions.

AndrewN wrote:
Consider it above in as it was. Does it stand for energy, or, more specifically, energy generated through wind power? Rather than force an interpretation, examine both possibilities within the context of the comparison. I will remove the placement of the adverb now from consideration by replacing it with ellipses (...).

1) more than ten times as much energy is... generated through wind power... as energy was [generated] in 1990.
2) more than ten times as much energy is... generated through wind power... as energy was generated through wind power in 1990.

Neither comparison holds any real substance. In the first iteration, we can reasonably supply the missing verb generated, since energy was in 1990 makes no sense whatsoever, and was is a linking verb that is missing its action verb. (If you have trouble making the connection, picture a perfect tense instead: energy had in 1990. You would logically ask, Had what?) The problem, of course, is the word energy. The comparison is between the amount of energy generated at present compared to the amount generated in the past. Repeating the word energy introduces nothing more than a redundancy. Consider a simpler comparison using the same word: The generator stores more energy now than in the past. If you can find a way to squeeze in energy after than, then you have a keener eye than I.

Getting back to the sentence at hand, since energy is reintroduced in the second half of the comparison in both iterations above, we can drop both from consideration.


I didn't quite get the "redundancy" caused by the "energy". What I learnt about the comparison is that the second half of the comparison should be parallel to the first half of the comparison. If there is a noun (energy) in the first half, why the noun/pronoun becomes redundant in the second half? Regarding the sentence " The generator stores more energy now than in the past", indeed I couldn't find a way to squeeze in "energy" after than. But I was wondering if we could say
"The generator stores more energy now than it stores in the past"?
In addition to that, is the sentence "The energy stored by generator now is more than that/it/the energy stored in the past" correct? or which is the correct noun/pronoun in this sentence? I am really confused about whether we should include the noun/pronoun.

I also found a question "Employment costs rose 2.8 percent in the 12 months that ended in September, slightly less than they did in the year that ended in the previous quarter", can we exclude the "they did"? I feel that it is similar to "The generator stores more energy now than in the past"......

I was wondering if you would kindly help me draw some conclusions about the "the noun/pronoun must be included in the second half", "the noun/pronoun must not be included in the second half" and "it doesn't matter if include or not"? I know it is impossible to have "hard-and-fast" rule, and it is case by case. I just want to get some general ideas/rules that could help me analyze the questions. For example, can I categorize the first three questions as "the noun/pronoun must not be included in the second half"? what structure/feature makes them fall in this category? For the sentence "The energy stored by generator now is more than that/it/the energy stored in the past", why the noun/pronoun is required (please correct me if I made mistake here)? Both versions are comparing the amount of energy generated/stored at present compared to the amount generated/stored in the past, what the differences make one require a pronoun and the other not?

AndrewN wrote:
Answer choice (E): three times as many institutions charge under $8,000 a year as those charging over $16,000.

Interpretation: three times as many institutions charge under $8,000 a year as institutions charging over $16,000.

Why has the verb charge in the comparison morphed into a different form—the adjective modifier charging—later on? The comparison should be between what some institutions charge and what other institutions charge. Keep things simple, tit for tat. If answer choice (E) is an imposter, then only (D) remains. Test within our stripped-down shell of the comparison:


Can we say "as those charge"? In this case, we don't change the verb "charge" to "-ing" modifier. If not, why?

I am sorry for bringing up so many questions, some of which may look obvious to you. Though I read many comments of other experts and Manhattan book, and looked at several videos about comparison, I still couldn't figure them out. If those questions are not good to ask here, do you mind sharing some articles/videos/links with me so that I can learn the comparison better before asking? Thanks in advance for your help!

Originally posted by AcceleratorCC on 27 Apr 2022, 16:35.
Last edited by AcceleratorCC on 27 Apr 2022, 21:41, edited 1 time in total.
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As _____ As: Comparisons in Focus [#permalink]
Hi AndrewN, sorry for posting another comment before you reply me. I spent two hours looking at your posts and comparing with other questions I encountered.

AndrewN wrote:
This sentence looks a little different from the others. What, exactly, is being compared? In keeping with our tenet to keep things simple, if you said people, you are correct. If you like to be more granular, the number of people is also accurate. The comparative marker is comma + about, and it applies to nearly eight million people that immediately precedes it. So, the comparison:

nearly eight million people, about _____ the nation's four-year colleges and universities

Now, since people are not the same as an enrollment, but rather comprise an enrollment (i.e. an enrollment of people), we can drop answer choices (A) and (D) from consideration. Notice that (B) and (C) both use those. Substitute people in each instance as a litmus test:

(B) nearly eight million people, about the equivalent of people enrolled in unis. (We need not worry about the "fluff.")
(C) nearly eight million people, about equal to people who are enrolled in unis.

In (B), what does the equivalent of people mean? Something like people, as in humanoids? We would certainly want to add number of to draw a proper comparison—nearly eight million people, about the equivalent number of people enrolled in unis—but from where would we draw such information in the sentence on the screen? (B) is in serious trouble now, since we cannot supply information just to fit what we want the sentence to say.

Answer choice (C) is little better: nearly eight million people [are] about equal to people? No. We need another amount to enter the picture. Compare to the only option that is left in (E):

(E) nearly eight million people, about as many as are enrolled in unis.


For the third question, I am just curious (I know GMAT wouldn't have such answers): if we change the "those" in (B) (C) to "the number of people", will the two answer be correct?
For option (E), can we say "as many as those are enrolled in" or "as many as those enrolled in"? I guess not, but I don't know why...... All of these are down to the same question, why the noun/pronoun can be omitted in the second half? I don't think the people in the first half is literally the same as the group of people in the second half. I used to think if the subject is the same ( same group of people), we can omit the noun/pronoun in the second half. But clearly it is not the case here. Am I wrong?

The third question also reminds me of another one. Though in this question it is not "as...as..." but "more than", I feel the question, at least for me, is very similar to the first three questions in your posts. I am struggling why the noun "gap" could be omitted.

Quote:
Even with the proposed budget cuts and new taxes and fees, the city's projected deficit for the next budget year is getting worse: administration officials announced that they believe the gap will be $3.7 billion, a billion dollars over what it was predicted just two months ago.

A) over what it was predicted

B) over the prediction from

C) more than it was predicted

D) more than they had predicted

E) more than they predicted it


I read some explanation from other expert, saying that (C) would be correct if it becomes "more than it was predicted TO BE". I am very confused--If "more than it was predicted TO BE" can be correct, why "(B) generated through wind power now as it was" or (D) in the first question cannot be correct? They are very similar as far as I can see. Could you please correct me and tell me the difference? In addition, if we require "TO BE" in C), why we don't need that in D) "more than they had predicted TO BE"?

Can we say
Quote:
"more than that they had predicted just two months ago"
"more than what they had predicted just two months ago"
"more than was predicted just two months ago"
"more than predicted just two months ago"
"more than had been predicted just two months ago"?


I guess the first two are incorrect, though I am quite sure why... The last three would be correct compared with the questions in the post.

I am trying to find things in common for those questions in which we should omit the noun/pronoun in the second half.

I did the forth question correctly not because I fully understand the comparison but because of the fatal errors in other options.

AndrewN wrote:
1) the planet's crust harbors up to three times as much water as was previously thought
2) the planet's crust harbors up to three times as much water as scientists previously thought


Both 1) and 2) are correct, do I understand correctly? I read some comment saying that in "eras and have therefore concluded that the planet's crust harbors up to three times as much water as WAS previously thought", the "WAS" is optional, similar to "was predicted" and "had been predicted" in the above questions I just mentioned.

I am sorry again for so many questions I had. Please let me know if there are any "bad" questions that I shouldn't ask in the forum. I will try to avoid same mistakes in the future. Thanks in advance for your help.
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Re: As _____ As: Comparisons in Focus [#permalink]
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Pardon the delay in my response, AcceleratorCC. It is fine to ask the questions you have—I would encourage you to do so. I will respond to specific queries below.

AcceleratorCC wrote:
Hi AndrewN, thanks for putting those questions together! A lifesaver for me. :thumbsup:

As you know I was new to GMAT. For the first time I read the Manhattan grammar book, I thought I knew the comparison. But after I met those questions, I feel that I know LITTLE about the monsters. I am struggling with those comparisons all these days. I failed three of the four questions at the first attempt. The thing that drove me crazy is not the "as...as..." comparison, but the omitted words in the second half of the comparison, no matter if it is for "as...as..." or "more than". I hope you would kindly shed some light on my questions.

I didn't quite get the "redundancy" caused by the "energy". What I learnt about the comparison is that the second half of the comparison should be parallel to the first half of the comparison. If there is a noun (energy) in the first half, why the noun/pronoun becomes redundant in the second half? Regarding the sentence " The generator stores more energy now than in the past", indeed I couldn't find a way to squeeze in "energy" after than. But I was wondering if we could say
"The generator stores more energy now than it stores in the past"?
In addition to that, is the sentence "The energy stored by generator now is more than that/it/the energy stored in the past" correct? or which is the correct noun/pronoun in this sentence? I am really confused about whether we should include the noun/pronoun.

Do not worry about conditions that create redundancy. Just test what the grammar seems to suggest and ask yourself whether the conveyed meaning is reasonable. Yes, you could write, The generator stores more energy now than it stored in the past. Why? Because it has a clear referent in generator, and the second appearance of the verb precludes a misinterpretation, namely that it could refer to energy. The comparison has shifted from a tighter now versus then to the generator stores more energy than the generator stored. The verb tenses convey the comparison just fine, but the extra words in now and in the past provide further context that does not hinder the meaning.

AcceleratorCC wrote:
I also found a question "Employment costs rose 2.8 percent in the 12 months that ended in September, slightly less than they did in the year that ended in the previous quarter", can we exclude the "they did"? I feel that it is similar to "The generator stores more energy now than in the past"......

Similar, yes, but notice how far the comparative elements are in the above sentence. If the sentence were rephrased in the past 12 months, and that information were placed closer to the second element, in the [previous] year, then the author might feel as though a pronoun-verb combination was no longer necessary to preface the second element: ... rose 2.8 percent in the past 12 months, slightly less than in the previous year. The more information inserted between elements A and B, the greater the likelihood of seeing a reminder in the form of a pronoun-verb pair to clarify what the sentence is aiming to convey.

AcceleratorCC wrote:
I was wondering if you would kindly help me draw some conclusions about the "the noun/pronoun must be included in the second half", "the noun/pronoun must not be included in the second half" and "it doesn't matter if include or not"? I know it is impossible to have "hard-and-fast" rule, and it is case by case. I just want to get some general ideas/rules that could help me analyze the questions. For example, can I categorize the first three questions as "the noun/pronoun must not be included in the second half"? what structure/feature makes them fall in this category? For the sentence "The energy stored by generator now is more than that/it/the energy stored in the past", why the noun/pronoun is required (please correct me if I made mistake here)? Both versions are comparing the amount of energy generated/stored at present compared to the amount generated/stored in the past, what the differences make one require a pronoun and the other not?

I think I have answered your queries above. I will reiterate that you should not look to create rules, but to lean on the context of a given sentence for guidance, and to test different answer choices that seem reasonable to you.

AcceleratorCC wrote:
AndrewN wrote:
Answer choice (E): three times as many institutions charge under $8,000 a year as those charging over $16,000.

Interpretation: three times as many institutions charge under $8,000 a year as institutions charging over $16,000.

Why has the verb charge in the comparison morphed into a different form—the adjective modifier charging—later on? The comparison should be between what some institutions charge and what other institutions charge. Keep things simple, tit for tat. If answer choice (E) is an imposter, then only (D) remains. Test within our stripped-down shell of the comparison:


Can we say "as those charge"? In this case, we don't change the verb "charge" to "-ing" modifier. If not, why?

I am sorry for bringing up so many questions, some of which may look obvious to you. Though I read many comments of other experts and Manhattan book, and looked at several videos about comparison, I still couldn't figure them out. If those questions are not good to ask here, do you mind sharing some articles/videos/links with me so that I can learn the comparison better before asking? Thanks in advance for your help!

No, as those charge would not make sense either. Test the comparison:

three times as many institutions charge under $8,000 a year as those charge over $16,000

Ask yourself, what does those stand in for? Replace the word with its logical referent:

three times as many institutions charge under $8,000 a year as institutions charge over $16,000

The comparison (or contrast) is between under and over in this sentence, and since institutions falls before the verb, charge, it is carried over into the second element as an understood subject. Thus, it is unnecessary to repeat the noun ahead of the second verb.

I see too many people look to create tidy rules on niche topics, kind of how in Quant, everyone seems to want to know about combinatorics, even though the topic is pretty narrowly tested. In this case, just learn what you can from comparisons as you go. Since you have the Manhattan set of guides, if you miss a question on comparisons, check the appropriate section to see whether it makes more sense to you the second (or fifth) time you read it.

Thank you for thinking to follow up.

- Andrew
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Re: As _____ As: Comparisons in Focus [#permalink]
Thank you so much for your all the detailed and insightful answers! AndrewN

AndrewN wrote:
three times as many institutions charge under $8,000 a year as those charge over $16,000

Ask yourself, what does those stand in for? Replace the word with its logical referent:

three times as many institutions charge under $8,000 a year as institutions charge over $16,000

The comparison (or contrast) is between under and over in this sentence, and since institutions falls before the verb, charge, it is carried over into the second element as an understood subject. Thus, it is unnecessary to repeat the noun ahead of the second verb.

I see too many people look to create tidy rules on niche topics, kind of how in Quant, everyone seems to want to know about combinatorics, even though the topic is pretty narrowly tested. In this case, just learn what you can from comparisons as you go. Since you have the Manhattan set of guides, if you miss a question on comparisons, check the appropriate section to see whether it makes more sense to you the second (or fifth) time you read it.


You are absolutely right. I think the most difficult thing for me, as a beginner, is to figure out what should be carried over into the second element as an understood subject and thus can be omitted. Taking this question as an example, the first time I read it I felt that "institutions charge under $8,000 a year" is perfectly parallel to "those charge over $16,000". After reading several times, the correct answer makes more sense to me. The most important thing is to understand the comparison elements rather than find a hard-rule. I should learn and train for GMAT tests.

Do you mind taking a look at my second post when you have time? Please feel free and no worries. I did feel embarrassed to post so many question here :lol: , but I hope to learn and have a better understanding from those comparisons. Thanks again for your help.
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Kudos to AndrewN for this beautifully written article.

I am writing this to share my half cent on the topic. And I am just going to add to Andrew's opinion, "Stick to the basics and see what the context of a given sentence allows in the way of a reasonable interpretation." This can't be more true.

My reply is in response to Q. 3. Because the rest of the questions are from GMATPrep and I am yet to take my mocks 3-6.
This is how I tackled the question:
Quote:
According to a study by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, companies in the United States are providing job training and general education for nearly eight million people, about equivalent to the enrollment of the nation’s four-year colleges and universities.
(A) equivalent to the enrollment of
(B) the equivalent of those enrolled in
(C) equal to those who are enrolled in
(D) as many as the enrollment of
(E) as many as are enrolled in
I took 1 mins and 40 secs to answer it correctly, I took extra 20 secs to be sure of my answer because I did not want to feel bad for missing out something and choosing a wrong answer. Lol.
First key detail I observed was: about equivalent to the enrollment of the nation’s four-year colleges and universities. As soon as I saw "about" I identified it as a prepositional phrase and that should either work as an action modifier or as an noun modifier. From the meaning of the sentence, this prepositional phrase does not seem like an adverbial modifier (action modifier). So, I switched towards finding the noun or the noun phrase that it must be referring to (Note: If modifying a noun/a noun phrase, prepositional phrase is generally kept close to its referent). Only logical referent to this prepositional phrase in the given sentence is "nearly eight million people".
Now, this "number of people" can not be compared with "enrollment" so the option choices (A) and (D) are out.
Among (B), (C) and (E), I zeroed on (E) for I preferred the usage of "about as many as" over "about the equivalent of people" and "about equal to people". Ask why? I think Andrew has explained what I felt makes more sense. I feel the "number of people" should be compared to the "number of people". "equivalent of people" and "equal to people" is some stinky weird construction. So, although as much as I try I can not put this to words as beautifully as Andrew has done in its post. That's how I reached to my answer (E).
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Hello again, AcceleratorCC. It seems I have some unfinished business.

AcceleratorCC wrote:
Hi AndrewN, sorry for posting another comment before you reply me. I spent two hours looking at your posts and comparing with other questions I encountered.

For the third question, I am just curious (I know GMAT wouldn't have such answers): if we change the "those" in (B) (C) to "the number of people", will the two answer be correct?

You should know by now what I am going to say here: put these thoughts to the test.

(B) nearly eight million people, about the equivalent of the number of people enrolled in unis.
(C) nearly eight million people, about equal to the number of people who are enrolled in unis.

I would say that although the comparisons themselves are salvageable—the number of people in one group versus the number in another—the diction, the manner in which the message is conveyed, is suboptimal. What do either of these iterations achieve in the way of clarity that the terser (E) lacks?

(E) nearly eight million people, about as many as are enrolled in unis.

I should mention that analyzing different (potential) lines in SC has limited utility, compared to, say, examining different moves in a game of chess. It is because in this game, GMAC™ always limits the options to five, and must ensure that one of these five stands apart from the rest. You will not see five or even two equally valid sentences on the screen, all considerations being equal (e.g., conciseness, clarity, idioms).

AcceleratorCC wrote:
For option (E), can we say "as many as those are enrolled in" or "as many as those enrolled in"? I guess not, but I don't know why...... All of these are down to the same question, why the noun/pronoun can be omitted in the second half? I don't think the people in the first half is literally the same as the group of people in the second half. I used to think if the subject is the same ( same group of people), we can omit the noun/pronoun in the second half. But clearly it is not the case here. Am I wrong?

Replace those with people above, and you will see why your proposed alterations do not work. You might want to think of the latter part of a comparison as a type, rather than a perfectly matching element. People in Group A and Group B might be different physically or espouse different views, but the constituents of both groups are still people.

AcceleratorCC wrote:
The third question also reminds me of another one. Though in this question it is not "as...as..." but "more than", I feel the question, at least for me, is very similar to the first three questions in your posts. I am struggling why the noun "gap" could be omitted.

Quote:
Even with the proposed budget cuts and new taxes and fees, the city's projected deficit for the next budget year is getting worse: administration officials announced that they believe the gap will be $3.7 billion, a billion dollars over what it was predicted just two months ago.

A) over what it was predicted

B) over the prediction from

C) more than it was predicted

D) more than they had predicted

E) more than they predicted it


I read some explanation from other expert, saying that (C) would be correct if it becomes "more than it was predicted TO BE". I am very confused--If "more than it was predicted TO BE" can be correct, why "(B) generated through wind power now as it was" or (D) in the first question cannot be correct? They are very similar as far as I can see. Could you please correct me and tell me the difference? In addition, if we require "TO BE" in C), why we don't need that in D) "more than they had predicted TO BE"?

Can we say
Quote:
"more than that they had predicted just two months ago"
"more than what they had predicted just two months ago"
"more than was predicted just two months ago"
"more than predicted just two months ago"
"more than had been predicted just two months ago"?

I guess the first two are incorrect, though I am quite sure why... The last three would be correct compared with the questions in the post.

I am trying to find things in common for those questions in which we should omit the noun/pronoun in the second half.

I did the forth question correctly not because I fully understand the comparison but because of the fatal errors in other options.

Stop trying to force something from one sentence into another. A prediction and the generation of energy are two quite different types of nouns, and they trigger the use of other words in different ways. Also, this string of five questions at the end is not going to help you with other questions that may be a word or two off. Those other words may make all the difference. I understand the attractiveness of fitting everything into a box, but language simply does not operate as cleanly as we would need for it to. Several months ago, I came across a quotation by a Zen Buddhist that has stuck with me ever since:

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

―Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

Understand, I encourage curiosity. At the same time, I appreciate a simple approach. I advocate testing possibilities so that you do not shut off your mind. Embrace that uncertainty.

AcceleratorCC wrote:
AndrewN wrote:
1) the planet's crust harbors up to three times as much water as was previously thought
2) the planet's crust harbors up to three times as much water as scientists previously thought


Both 1) and 2) are correct, do I understand correctly? I read some comment saying that in "eras and have therefore concluded that the planet's crust harbors up to three times as much water as WAS previously thought", the "WAS" is optional, similar to "was predicted" and "had been predicted" in the above questions I just mentioned.

I am sorry again for so many questions I had. Please let me know if there are any "bad" questions that I shouldn't ask in the forum. I will try to avoid same mistakes in the future. Thanks in advance for your help.

Yes, both sentences above would be fine. Do not worry about anything else that could appear there.

Good luck with your studies.

- Andrew
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Thank you again for your help AndrewN.

Quote:
Stop trying to force something from one sentence into another. A prediction and the generation of energy are two quite different types of nouns, and they trigger the use of other words in different ways. Also, this string of five questions at the end is not going to help you with other questions that may be a word or two off. Those other words may make all the difference. I understand the attractiveness of fitting everything into a box, but language simply does not operate as cleanly as we would need for it to. Several months ago, I came across a quotation by a Zen Buddhist that has stuck with me ever since:

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

―Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

Understand, I encourage curiosity. At the same time, I appreciate a simple approach. I advocate testing possibilities so that you do not shut off your mind. Embrace that uncertainty.


Your reply means a lot to me, and the suggestion is really helpful. Thank you for inspiring me.
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