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GMAT Ninja SC Expert - Ask Me Anything about GMAT SC and Grammar

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Re: GMAT Ninja SC Expert - Ask Me Anything about GMAT SC and Grammar  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jan 2019, 04:07
Hoozan wrote:
134. As rare as something becomes, be it a baseball card or a musical recording or a postage stamp, the more avidly it is sought by collectors.
(A) As rare as something becomes, be it
(B) As rare as something becomes, whether it is
(C) As something becomes rarer and rarer, like
(D) The rarer something becomes, like
(E) The rarer something becomes, whether it is

Could you explain why A is wrong?

I eliminated C&D because of the incorrect usage of like
I eliminated B&E because of the incorrect usage of whether. Whether.. or is used to show a parallel list between 2 entities. However out here the list is of 3.

Please could you correct me in my thought process

You’re correct about the usage of “like” here. The GMAT generally frowns upon the use of “like” to introduce examples.

However, I don’t think there’s any rule that states that “whether” needs to be used on a parallel list of two items. I’ve never heard of that before, and I don’t think it’s a real thing. There’s nothing at all wrong with either of the following:

  • "I’ll eat anything that looks edible, whether it’s a caterpillar, a goat, or a roasted rodent." → Makes perfect sense, right? (Other than my lack of dietary discretion, of course.)
  • "I don't know whether I’ll eat an entire large pizza tonight." → There’s no list of parallel items here at all! And you see this use somewhat frequently on the GMAT.

So I don’t see any issue with the use of “whether” in the original question, either.

The bigger issue? The phrase “the more avidly it is sought by collectors” only makes sense if it is preceded by a phrase that expresses some sort of continuous comparison. So we need to start the sentence with “the rarer something becomes.” In (A), it doesn’t really make sense to say “as rare as something becomes… the more avidly it is sought by collectors.” Not terribly satisfying, but that idiom is the reason why (A) is wrong and (E) is correct.

Also, I think this comes from the 1000 SC series, and there are often errors in those questions. In theory, the 1000 series contains official questions, but be a bit careful with them – every version of that resource seems to be riddled with errors, and I can’t promise that they’ll accurately mimic real questions.

I hope this helps!
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Re: GMAT Ninja SC Expert - Ask Me Anything about GMAT SC and Grammar  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jan 2019, 04:11
Hoozan wrote:
Please could you help me understand the following SC

133. As part of their therapy, young polio victims learning to live with their disabilities were helped to practice falling during the 1950s,
so that they could learn to fall without being hurt.
(A) As part of their therapy, young polio victims learning to live with their disabilities were helped to practice falling during the 1950s
(B) As part of their therapy, young polio victims learning to live during the 1950s with their disabilities were helped to practice falling
(C) Young polio victims learning to live during the 1950s with their disabilities were helped to practice falling as part of their therapy
(D) Young polio victims learning to live with their disabilities were helped to practice falling during the 1950s as part of their therapy
(E) During the 1950s, as part of their therapy, young polio victims learning to live with their disabilities were helped to practice falling

I’ll punt on this one, just because it has the same issues as I mentioned above: since it came from the somewhat dodgy 1000 series, I just don’t know that this is a real GMAT question. If you have a specific question about the grammar or usage in it, feel free to let me know, and I’ll do my best to answer it in a way that will help you more broadly on official GMAT questions. Otherwise, don’t worry too much about this one.
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Re: GMAT Ninja SC Expert - Ask Me Anything about GMAT SC and Grammar  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jan 2019, 04:30
kagrawal16 wrote:

Hey GMATNinja,
Regarding,
Analysts blamed May’s sluggish retail sales on unexciting merchandise as well as the weather, colder and wetter than was usual in some regions, which slowed sales of barbecue grills and lawn furniture.

Can we have a clause after than in the above case. Say for eg. one of the choices were to include than people face in arctic regions
1) Analysts blamed May’s sluggish retail sales on unexciting merchandise as well as the weather, colder and wetter than people face in arctic regions, weather that slowed sales of barbecue grills and lawn furniture.

Also in such cases is parallelism right ?
on the one side we have: colder and wetter
Other side we have a full clause: people face in arctic regions.

A similar question from veritas prep in which the correct choice reads.
2) Many newspapers across the country, forced to cope with about half as much advertising revenue as they were receiving twenty years ago, have frantically sought other sources of revenue.

I tried applying (2) in (1).

Also in 3)
A letter by Mark Twain, written in the same year as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were published, reveals that Twain provided financial assistance to one of the first Black students at Yale Law School.
As per the experts answers on the use of "as" i understood from the post that we cannot have a clause after "as" because there is no clause before "as".
The experts also mentioned that if it were "the same year as the year in which Adventures of HF was published", then the sentence is fine. Also if the year is followed by a that the clause would stand.

From 1) 2) 3) can it be concluded that in modifiers "as" cannot be followed with clauses, but than and as X as can ? If yes, how does parallelism work in these cases.
I am not sure if i am getting too analytical but your explanation would be very helful.

First of all, please don’t look at non-official SC questions and assume that they are accurate representations of what happens on actual, official GMAT questions. It’s essentially impossible for even the very best test-prep companies to produce valid verbal questions, and I don’t think that non-official questions are worth your valuable study time.

And yes, you’re getting far too mechanical, in my opinion. Nobody likes to hear this, but there are very, very few grammar rules that apply 100% of the time on the GMAT – or in English in general. If you try to break the entire language down to rules, you’ll miss a whole lot of logic and meaning… and then you’ll miss a whole lot of GMAT questions.

And you definitely don’t want to get too mechanical with comparisons. The important thing is that the comparisons actually make sense. If you try to overthink the parallelism of the structures, you’ll completely ignore the logic and meaning of the comparisons, and that’s what really matters.

Let’s go back to the original sentence about the weather, with a few things removed to keep the comparison succinct:

  • "The weather was colder and wetter than usual in some regions."

If you’re being too mechanical, you could conclude that “colder and wetter” is being compared to “usual.” Or that “the weather” is being compared to “usual.” Either way, if you’re being too mechanical, you might say “whoa, that’s not parallel, so it’s wrong!”

But it really isn’t unclear at all. The sentence is trying to say that “the weather was colder and wetter than the weather usually is in some regions.” If you’re demanding strict, mechanical parallelism, then you need the part in italics. But it’s fine to remove a few words if the comparison is still clear: shortening “than the weather usually is” to just “than usual” absolutely preserves the meaning, and keeps the sentence clean. Totally acceptable, and arguably better.

So whenever you look at comparisons, think of it this way: is the MEANING of the comparison clear? If so, you’re probably OK. If not, you have a problem. If removing a few extra words doesn’t hurt the clarity or meaning, then it’s probably fine.

More on this issue in this post and this post. And if you want more on comparisons, check out this video and this sequel.

I hope this helps!
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Re: GMAT Ninja SC Expert - Ask Me Anything about GMAT SC and Grammar  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Jan 2019, 12:38
anvesh004 wrote:
Hi Ninja,

I have 2 doubts on usage of "that" and "including".

Can those 2 words jump a preceding prepositional phrase to refer a Noun ?

Posted from my mobile device

Yes, definitely. It's not a problem at all for "that" (or "which") or "including" to "reach" behind a prepositional phrase to modify a noun.

For examples of this phenomenon using “that” and “which”, check out this question or this question or this question. For a broader discussion of “that” and the “touch rule”, see this article or this video.

The same is true for “including.” Here’s one official example from the GMATPrep tests.

I hope this helps!
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Re: GMAT Ninja SC Expert - Ask Me Anything about GMAT SC and Grammar  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jan 2019, 02:46
1
gmatman1031 wrote:
Hey Charles,

What're your thoughts on the difference between the two idioms "So ... that" and "So ... as to"

I saw this come up in a question here: https://gmatclub.com/forum/technically- ... 68593.html
In that question, I am confused as to why (A) is wrong.

Whenever somebody asks about a specific idiom, my first thought is always the same: there are 25,000 of them in English, and I don’t think it’s worth your effort to worry much about any particular idiom. (More on that in this article.)

My other thought is that it makes me mad in the (relatively rare!) cases when an official GMAT question can ONLY be answered if you know the correct idiom. It strikes me as unfair, especially to non-native speakers. But the GMAT doesn't care what I think... obviously. Otherwise, there would be a full bar and an empanada buffet available during breaks between sections. :tongue_opt2

Anyway, here are (A) are (B) from the original question, with a few things highlighted:

Quote:
Technically, “quicksand” is the term for sand that is so saturated with water as to acquire a liquid's character.

(A) that is so saturated with water as to acquire a liquid's character

(B) that is so saturated with water that it acquires the character of a liquid

The structures are very different here. In (B), we have "so saturated that [X occurs]" -- and to me, that seems far, far clearer. We're saying that something has such a strong characteristic (in this case, the sand is "so saturated with water") that something specific happens (in this case, "it acquires the character of a liquid"). Notice that the word "that" is followed by a full clause that states exactly what happens as a result of the saturation. Seems clear and logical.

But why is (A) wrong? I don't think there's a very good answer to that, to be honest. We have two or three examples of official questions in which the "so ____ as to ____" construction only appears in incorrect answer choices. We also have a very old official question (this thing, written before many GMAT Club members were born) that uses that construction in the correct answer. So the GMAT has been inconsistent with this over the years. :roll: But all of the 21st-century questions seem to frown on this construction.

For my taste, there's zero doubt that (B) is better than (A). It's just clearer, and the "so _____ as to _____" construction strikes me as awkward and clunky. But that's a crappy reason to eliminate it. I've seen very smart people argue that the phrase "so _____ as to _____" implies intention ("Erin drinks large quantities of Rioja so as to get spectacularly drunk"), but I'm not convinced by that. If you find that satisfying enough, great.

Interestingly, I think there's a secondary issue in (A): I think the phrase "acquire a liquid's character" is just a tiny bit confusing. It sounds like the quicksand is acquiring just ONE character that belongs to the liquid, and that's weird to me. (B) is a bit clearer: "the character of a liquid" seems to imply that the sand acquires the general character of a liquid, instead of a single character of a liquid. I'm not positive that this is WRONG, exactly, in (A), but it reinforces my instinct that the idiom is screwy.

I know: not terribly satisfying stuff. But that's all I've got here.

I hope this helps a bit!
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Re: GMAT Ninja SC Expert - Ask Me Anything about GMAT SC and Grammar  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jan 2019, 04:24
Hi Ninja


Based on accounts of various ancient writers, scholars have painted a sketchy picture of the activities of an all-female cult that, perhaps as early as the sixth century BC, worshipped a goddess known as Bona Dea, "the good goddess".

(B) Basing it on various ancient writers' accounts
(E) Using accounts of various ancient writers

I agree that in this particular question option E is way better.
But I was just curious about option B.

I always am confused about the correct usage of the placeholder pronouns.
I then encountered this article: https://gmatclub.com/forum/pronouns-usa ... 28522.html

It sort of helped.
Main takeaways:
A placeholder pronoun on the GMAT must refer to something. It may refer to a "that" clause or "who" clause.

Now When I attempted the above question I was stuck between option B and option E.

Why can't I say that it refers to "that, perhaps as early as the sixth century BC, worshipped a goddess known as Bona Dea, "the good goddess"." ?

If we rewrite the sentence it becomes:

Basing "that, perhaps as early as the sixth century BC, worshipped a goddess known as Bona Dea, "the good goddess"" on various accounts.....

IMO it does make sense.
Can you please shed some light on placeholder pronouns and reasons for incorrect option B?


Regards
Nitesh
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Re: GMAT Ninja SC Expert - Ask Me Anything about GMAT SC and Grammar  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Jan 2019, 10:56
1
nitesh50 wrote:
Hi Ninja


Based on accounts of various ancient writers, scholars have painted a sketchy picture of the activities of an all-female cult that, perhaps as early as the sixth century BC, worshipped a goddess known as Bona Dea, "the good goddess".

(B) Basing it on various ancient writers' accounts
(E) Using accounts of various ancient writers

I agree that in this particular question option E is way better.
But I was just curious about option B.

I always am confused about the correct usage of the placeholder pronouns.
I then encountered this article: https://gmatclub.com/forum/pronouns-usa ... 28522.html

It sort of helped.
Main takeaways:
A placeholder pronoun on the GMAT must refer to something. It may refer to a "that" clause or "who" clause.

Now When I attempted the above question I was stuck between option B and option E.

Why can't I say that it refers to "that, perhaps as early as the sixth century BC, worshipped a goddess known as Bona Dea, "the good goddess"." ?

If we rewrite the sentence it becomes:

Basing "that, perhaps as early as the sixth century BC, worshipped a goddess known as Bona Dea, "the good goddess"" on various accounts.....

IMO it does make sense.
Can you please shed some light on placeholder pronouns and reasons for incorrect option B?


Regards
Nitesh

Don't worry, you're not the only one who finds this issue annoying. If it's any consolation, non-referential pronouns on the GMAT are extremely rare. Yes, we can dig up one or two questions with a non-referential "it" in the OA, but they're very rare, so this issue shouldn't occupy much brain space.

For anybody who isn't sure what we mean: a "non-referential" pronoun is just a pronoun that doesn't refer to anything in particular. For example, there's nothing wrong with the phrase "it is raining." The "it" doesn't have an antecedent, and just refers to a general state of affairs.

Here's how I'd suggest dealing with the issue: if you see a pronoun with an unclear referent, try to eliminate four answer choices based on more concrete problems first. After all, pronoun ambiguity is not an absolute rule anyway (more on that in this video). It's only worth worrying about non-referential pronouns -- or potentially ambiguous pronouns -- after you've exhausted every other issue.

And I'll say it again: non-referential pronouns are incredibly rare on official GMAT questions. So if you see a non-referential pronoun, it might be fine, but there generally needs to be a pretty good reason to use one.

And guess what? This question doesn't have one of those reasons. And the pronoun isn't a non-referential pronoun, anyway.

When "it" is non-referential, the pronoun describes a general state of affairs. For example, "It is wrong to tie the front legs of your puppy together," or "It seems that vodka always helps." But that's not the use of "it" in (B):

    "Basing it on various ancient writers' accounts, scholars have painted a sketchy picture of the activities..."


In this case, "it" seems to be a concrete entity based on the accounts of ancient writers, rather than a general state of affairs. So logically, "it" has to refer to a noun. The referent appears to be "a sketchy picture," which I suppose makes sense, but because the pronoun comes first, and there's a substantial gap between pronoun and referent, the sentence is hard to interpret on first read.

Is it definitively wrong? I don't think so. But ultimately, it's just not as good as (E): "Using accounts of various ancient writers, scholars have painted a sketchy picture of the activities..." Now, we have a modifier "using accounts..." which clearly refers to the "scholars," and there's no confusion or ambiguity at all. You might have to reread (B) to make any sense of it, but (E) is perfectly logical and clear immediately.

Sometimes SC is about finding definitive mistakes. Sometimes it's a matter of choice between two options when neither has a clear grammatical mistake. In this case, the clearer and more logical sentence is preferable.

I hope that helps!
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How to go from great (760) to incredible (780) on GMAT SC | That "-ing" Word Probably Isn't a Verb | That "-ed" Word Might Not Be a Verb, Either | No-BS Guide to GMAT Idioms | "Being" is not the enemy | WTF is "that" doing in my sentence?

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Re: GMAT Ninja SC Expert - Ask Me Anything about GMAT SC and Grammar  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jan 2019, 06:02
Hi GMATNinja,
Thanks for your explanation in the previous post.

Need your help with this official question:

In addition to having more protein than wheat does, the protein in rice is higher quality than that in wheat, with more of the amino acids essential to the human diet.

(A) the protein in rice is higher quality than that in

(B) rice has protein of higher quality than that in

(C) the protein in rice is higher in quality than it is in

(D) rice protein is higher in quality than it is in

(E) rice has a protein higher in quality than


I could eliminate (E) only because it has “a protein”. I did not find the comparison wrong.

Rice has a protein higher in quality than wheat (has)
Or
...than it has wheat but this does not make sense and so an ambiguity does not exist.

In the post on the club some explanations state that E is incorrect because of the comparison.

Need your expert ninja advise!!?

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Re: GMAT Ninja SC Expert - Ask Me Anything about GMAT SC and Grammar  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jan 2019, 22:42
HI GMATNinja

Thank you for your earlier explainations.

I have another doubt on the following OG question.
Can we eliminate A and D because the subject Is not doing the action of Preparing?
When it is used in the ing form it is definitely incorrect.
But what about:
TO PREPARE OR
IN PREPARATION?




In preparation for the prediction of a major earthquake that will hit the state, a satellite-based computer network is being built by the California Office of Emergency Services for identifying earthquake damage and to pinpoint the most affected areas within two hours of the event.


(A) In preparation for the prediction of a major earthquake that will hit the state, a satellite-based computer network is being built by the California Office of Emergency Services for identifying

(B) In preparing for the prediction that a major earthquake will hit the state, the California Office of Emergency Services is building a satellite-based computer network that will identify

(C) In preparing for a major earthquake that is predicted to hit the state, the California Office of Emergency Services is building a satellite-based computer network to identify

(D) To prepare for the prediction of a major earthquake hitting the state, a satellite-based computer network is being built by the California Office of Emergency Services to identify

(E) To prepare for a major earthquake that is predicted to hit the state, the California Office of Emergency Services is building a satellite-based computer network that will identify


THANK YOU
Nitesh
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GMAT Ninja SC Expert - Ask Me Anything about GMAT SC and Grammar  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Jan 2019, 00:04
Sir Charles GMATNinja

Please guide with the below 2 perplexing questions.

1) The gyrfalcon, an arctic bird of prey, has survived a close brush with extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than what they were when the use of DDT was sharply restricted in the early 1970's.

(A) its numbers are now five times greater than what they were when
(B) its numbers now fivefold what they were when
(C) its numbers now five times more than when
(D) now with fivefold the numbers it had when
(E) now with its numbers five greater since
Ans(A)

2) The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived a close brush with extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than when the use of DDT was sharply restricted in the early 1970's.

(A) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than
(B) extinction; its numbers are now five times more than
(C) extinction, their numbers now fivefold what they were
(D) extinction, now with fivefold the numbers they had
(E) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than what they were
Ans (A)

I have read explanations on both of them and had a few questions.
1) Am I right to say that What they were is a clause that represents numbers – Substantive clause – (what the numbers were..)
2) From the point of view of parallelism are nouns – numbers in this case – parallel to substantive clauses.
3) From the comparison point of view, please suggest whether below are correct:
a.) Its numbers are now five times greater than “they were” when …
Is it right to drop the “they were” in Q2 when the tense changes – “they were”.
<On further reading your other post I got this answer, but then again the adverb "now" is in parallel with the adverbial clause>
b.) Its numbers are now five times greater than “what they were” when …
(I gather this is the less preferred option from your posts but the correct answer in Q1.)
4) I understood from your post on lab rat post that from the meaning perspective what implies “the things that”. I am unable to find a situation in which the use of “What” would be correct except the above case in which it’s the less preferred choice. Could you please help with another eg. Would this work "The population of Japan doubled what it was in 2000"

Thanks,

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Re: GMAT Ninja SC Expert - Ask Me Anything about GMAT SC and Grammar  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Feb 2019, 13:47
1
kagrawal16 wrote:
Hi GMATNinja,
Thanks for your explanation in the previous post.

Need your help with this official question:

In addition to having more protein than wheat does, the protein in rice is higher quality than that in wheat, with more of the amino acids essential to the human diet.

(A) the protein in rice is higher quality than that in

(B) rice has protein of higher quality than that in

(C) the protein in rice is higher in quality than it is in

(D) rice protein is higher in quality than it is in

(E) rice has a protein higher in quality than


I could eliminate (E) only because it has “a protein”. I did not find the comparison wrong.

Rice has a protein higher in quality than wheat (has)
Or
...than it has wheat but this does not make sense and so an ambiguity does not exist.

In the post on the club some explanations state that E is incorrect because of the comparison.

Need your expert ninja advise!!?

Posted from my mobile device

Take another look at the main clause in (B): "rice has protein of higher quality than that in wheat." Here, the pronoun, "that" seems to be a stand-in for protein, so we're comparing the quality of protein in rice to the quality of protein in wheat. Perfectly logical. (And for more on the GMAT's many uses of the word "that", check out this article.)

Contrast that construction with (E): "rice has a protein higher in quality than wheat." Now we're comparing the quality of the protein in rice to the quality of wheat itself. We can compare one crop with another. We can compare the nutrient of one crop with the nutrient of another crop. But comparing the nutrient of one crop to another crop is illogical.

I hope that helps!
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New post 08 Feb 2019, 00:50
Hi GMATNinja ( Charles),
Thanks for opening this forum.
I am struggling with usage of dashes in two questions I encountered in OG.

Links:
Q1) https://gmatclub.com/forum/some-anthrop ... 34793.html
Q2) https://gmatclub.com/forum/although-app ... 32487.html

Now here in Q1) we use that after the dash, however, I feel that the dash part modifies bottleneck and usage of that seems illogical.
--> Reading the answers it seems that the dash establishes a link and thus that is required to maintain parallelism.
Could you please help explain how are we saying that usage of dash requires "that"

And if we say that since dash is used as a conjunction then why do we not use dash + that in Q2 ?

Waiting for the response.

Regards,
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Re: GMAT Ninja SC Expert - Ask Me Anything about GMAT SC and Grammar  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Feb 2019, 02:55
nitesh50 wrote:
HI GMATNinja

Thank you for your earlier explainations.

I have another doubt on the following OG question.
Can we eliminate A and D because the subject Is not doing the action of Preparing?
When it is used in the ing form it is definitely incorrect.
But what about:
TO PREPARE OR
IN PREPARATION?




In preparation for the prediction of a major earthquake that will hit the state, a satellite-based computer network is being built by the California Office of Emergency Services for identifying earthquake damage and to pinpoint the most affected areas within two hours of the event.


(A) In preparation for the prediction of a major earthquake that will hit the state, a satellite-based computer network is being built by the California Office of Emergency Services for identifying

(B) In preparing for the prediction that a major earthquake will hit the state, the California Office of Emergency Services is building a satellite-based computer network that will identify

(C) In preparing for a major earthquake that is predicted to hit the state, the California Office of Emergency Services is building a satellite-based computer network to identify

(D) To prepare for the prediction of a major earthquake hitting the state, a satellite-based computer network is being built by the California Office of Emergency Services to identify

(E) To prepare for a major earthquake that is predicted to hit the state, the California Office of Emergency Services is building a satellite-based computer network that will identify


THANK YOU
Nitesh

Yes, I think your reasoning is valid. Just remember that if you're ever unsure about one issue, you should look for another! Both (A) and (D) suggest that the preparation is for a prediction. It makes far more sense to write that the preparation is for an earthquake, as (C) does. (Notice also that the construction in (A), "for identifying...and to pinpoint" is not parallel.)

So as soon as you find one DEFINITE error, whether it's a misplaced modifier or illogical meaning in general, you can confidently eliminate that answer choice -- and not worry about any secondary issues you're not sure about.

I hope that helps!
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Beginners' guides to GMAT verbal
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All QOTDs | Subscribe via email | RSS

Need an expert reply?
Hit the request verbal experts' reply button -- and please be specific about your question. Feel free to tag @GMATNinja in your post. Priority is always given to official GMAT questions.

Sentence Correction articles & resources
How to go from great (760) to incredible (780) on GMAT SC | That "-ing" Word Probably Isn't a Verb | That "-ed" Word Might Not Be a Verb, Either | No-BS Guide to GMAT Idioms | "Being" is not the enemy | WTF is "that" doing in my sentence?

Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and other articles & resources
All GMAT Ninja articles on GMAT Club | Using LSAT for GMAT CR & RC |7 reasons why your actual GMAT scores don't match your practice test scores | How to get 4 additional "fake" GMAT Prep tests for $29.99 | Time management on verbal

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Re: GMAT Ninja SC Expert - Ask Me Anything about GMAT SC and Grammar  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Feb 2019, 16:27
Do you have any advice on how to tell when to use with vs the -ing form when modifying a clause/noun? Is the only major difference that with modifies either an adverbial phrase/noun and -ing modifies a clause as a whole?
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Re: GMAT Ninja SC Expert - Ask Me Anything about GMAT SC and Grammar   [#permalink] 17 Feb 2019, 16:27

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