Chain of Modifiers : GMAT Sentence Correction (SC)
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# Chain of Modifiers

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Manager
Joined: 19 Sep 2010
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19 Oct 2010, 02:39
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Guys ,
Whenever I encounter a series of modifiers separated by comma , I face a lot of problems . Okay , I can understand
that if a modifier is acting as an adjective , it has to be placed next to the noun being modified . But does that mean
that any modifier which does not seem to modify any noun is acting as an adverbial modifier.

Consider the sentence below:
"For the past 50 years , due to changes in lifestyle and recreational activities , the population of united
states has become increasingly kyphotic , displaying poor posture and spine curvature , and the country will
probably have 100 million people with back problems next year , more than any other nation in the world will."

Now , In the example above , we have "For the past 50 years" and "due to changes in lifestyle and recreational activities" both
acting as a modifier . Is it that only the modifier placed alongside with a noun acts as an adjectival modifier and other acts
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31 Oct 2010, 18:43
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Raths,

I wouldn't worry so much about the way the modifier is phrases. Instead, ask yourself what the modifier is modifying. I'm going to give you a few examples and let you draw some conclusions about your example above and get some feedback from others on it:

1. "The house, which is owned by the Mayor, is huge." --> The modifier "which is owned by the Mayor" is modifying the "house". As a result, the modifier has to touch the noun. That the modifier begins with the word "which" is simply a hint to the reader that you're starting a noun modifier.

2. "I ran to the house, swinging my arms" --> The modifier "swinging my arms" is an adverbial modifier because it is modifying the way I was running (i.e. it is modifying the verb "ran"). Here's a good clue that you're looking at an adverbial modifier: it starts with a past participle such as "swinging" or "considered" or "wondering". Notice how the -ing and -ed endings give this away.

Here's the point: Your first question about modifiers should be "what is it trying to modify?" If it's modifying a verb, phrase, or clause, then it's an adverbial modifier. If it's modifying a single noun, then it's a noun modifier. (Often, a noun modifier on the GMAT will mistakenly modify the wrong thing. For example: "The house where my mother lives, which is green, has two bedrooms." Here, "which is green" does not touch the noun "house." As a result, this example is incorrect.)

OK, now it's time to throw it back to you and the rest of the crowd: Can you identify any of the modifiers in your example?
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31 Oct 2010, 21:37
Okay...here is my attempt..

"For the past 50 years"...adverbial...modifying verb "has become"...gives the idea of since when.

"due to changes in lifestyle and recreational activities".... adjectival...describing population.

"displaying poor posture and spine curvature"....adjectival...describing population again.

"with back problems next year"...describing people...btw 100 million is also describing people.

"more than any other nation in the world"....I think this phrase is describing the clause..."The country will have 100 million people with back problems next year"....so seems like adverbial to me...not sure though.

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08 Nov 2010, 08:18
Hello Bkimball ,
Can you give me some more examples where a phrase or clause is modifying another phrase or clause .
Of all the topics tested in GMAT verbal , I think i am really poor at SC . Thats why I am fretting over
so much with modifiers and other topics . I was thinking of practicing SC by identifying different parts of the
sentence such as subject , verb , modifiers , main clause , subordinate clause etc . I think that this might
improve my SC . Not sure though.....
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09 Nov 2010, 16:23
There are numerous examples of a phrase modifying an entire clause:

"The construction of the pyramids, considered one of the most difficult tasks in history, occurred over a period of many years." --> Here, the adverbial modifier "considered one of the most difficult tasks in history" modifies the construction of the pyramids, not the pyramids themselves.

In contrast:

"The construction of the pyramids, which are considered the most amazing buildings in history, occurred over a period of many years." --> Here, the noun modifier "which are ... history" describes the pyramids.

Other examples of modifiers that modify entire phrases:

"I saw my dog run across the street, with his tongue hanging out of his month, and into the open door of my neighbor's house." --> Here, the phrase" with his tongue hanging out of his mouth" modifies the action of my dog running. How was my dog running? With his tongue out.

The key thing with all modifiers is to recognize when a modifier must touch what it is trying to modify (i.e. when it is a noun modifier) and when it is more flexible (i.e. when it is modifying a clause or a verb.)

Brett
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Re: Chain of Modifiers   [#permalink] 09 Nov 2010, 16:23
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