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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau [#permalink]
GMATNinja wrote:
Quote:
(A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were

The pronoun “they” always jumps off the page at me, and in this case, it seems to refer to “refiners”, the most recent plural. That’s fine.

I’m also OK with the comparison: “refiners are paying… more for crude oil than they were [paying] last year.” I don't think that it’s ideal, but it’s definitely not wrong, and the GMAT would argue that the word “paying” is implied after “were.” Again, I’m not crazy about it, but it conveys the meaning clearly enough.

So let’s keep (A), I guess.

Quote:
(B) Heating-oil prices are expected to rise higher this year over last because refiners pay about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

The phrase “expected to rise higher this year over last” is definitely a mess. You would never say that prices “rise higher.” They either just rise, or they just ARE higher. I’m also not sure why we would use “over last” instead of “than last.”

The placement of “more” is also really confusing. “More” modifies “pay about $5 a barrel”, and there’s no good reason to stick the word “more” so far away from the phrase it logically modifies.

But for whatever it’s worth: “they” still seems to refer perfectly reasonably to “refiners.” And the word “did” replaces the verb “pay” (or “paid”, since “did” is past tense). So those things are OK.

But I don’t think we can get over the silly placement of “more” and the "rise higher" mess at the beginning of the sentence. So (B) is out.

Quote:
(C) Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

(C) has a couple of problems right in the beginning of the sentence. First of all, I can’t understand why we would say “expectations are for… prices to be higher this year.” That’s a horribly indirect way to say that “prices are expected to be higher.” The prices are the focus of the sentence, and it’s best if the prices are the grammatical subject of the sentence.

The comparison is also pretty goofy. “… heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year’s…” The problem here is the possessive “last year’s.” We could say something like “this year’s prices are higher than last year’s”, or we could say that “prices are higher this year than last year.” But it makes no sense to say that “prices are higher this year than last year’s.”

So (C) is gone.

Quote:
(D) It is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher this year over last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil now than what they were

Like (C), (D) starts with an unnecessarily wordy expression: “it is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher this year…”. That’s not WRONG, exactly, but it’s definitely a crappier way to say “prices are expected to be higher this year…”

There’s also a problem with the phrase “higher this year over last.” You could say that prices were “higher this year than last”, but I can’t understand why we would use “over” in this context.

We also have an extra word that muddies the end of the underlined portion: “refiners are paying… more for crude oil now than what they were last year.” There’s absolutely no reason to include the word “what” in this sentence: “than they were last year” is enough by itself.

That’s enough to let us cross out (D).

Quote:
(E) It is the expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's because refiners pay about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

(E) combines a bunch of problems that we saw in the other answer choices. “It is the expected” doesn't make any sense at all, especially when (A) gives us a much nicer option (“prices are expected to be higher…”). Also, there’s no reason to make “last year’s” possessive – see the explanation for (C) for more on this issue.

Finally, it doesn’t make sense to say that “prices will rise higher this year.” You could say that “prices will rise”, or that “prices will be higher”, but it’s redundant (and damned weird) to say “prices will rise higher.”

So (E) is out, and we’re left with (A).


In (C), could it be "last year'[prices]"?
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau [#permalink]
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lakshya14 wrote:
In (C), could it be "last year'[prices]"?

In our last post, we attempted to explain why "last year's prices" wouldn't work. Maybe we misinterpreted your question?
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau [#permalink]
"Prices are higher this year than last year"-how is this correct? Doesn't it compare prices to year? How come it is not "Prices are higher this year than that of last year"?

Comparisons will be the end of me
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau [#permalink]
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Rasalghul853 wrote:
"Prices are higher this year than last year"-how is this correct? Doesn't it compare prices to year? How come it is not "Prices are higher this year than that of last year"?

Comparisons will be the end of me

I feel your pain here. It might be helpful to consider how this scenario is different than a more typical faulty comparison:

    LeBron scored more points in 2020 than 2019.

The reason this is problematic is that there are potentially two ways to interpret the sentence: 1) LeBron scored more points in 2020 than he scored in 2019, or 2) In 2020 LeBron scored more than 2019 points.

In other words, our brains might interpret 2019 as a year or as a quantity. This is the kind of confusion/ambiguity that the GMAT doesn't like, even if we're eventually able to figure out what the author means.

However, I could also write this:

    LeBron scored more points in 2020 than in 2019.

Now, because 2019 is part of a prepositional phrase, the reader knows we're talking about a year, and it just makes sense to interpret the sentence as comparing what LeBron did in one year to what he did in another year. Because there's no viable alternative interpretation, this version is better.

The option we're evaluating here, "Prices are higher this year than last year," is more like the second example above. We can't interpret "last year" to mean a quantity, so it stands to reason that we're comparing the state of prices "this year" to the state of prices "last year." That's perfectly reasonable.

The unsatisfying takeaway: when it comes to comparisons, we can't just memorize a list of acceptable and unacceptable scenarios. We're always going to have to use context. If a comparison is clearly illogical or confusing, treat it as a definitive error. If there's an argument to be made that the comparison could work, or that we're using two modifying phrases to compare what happened in two different time periods, look for other, more concrete issues first.

I hope that helps a bit!
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau [#permalink]
EMPOWERgmatVerbal wrote:
Hello Everyone!

Let's tackle this question, one issue at a time, and narrow it down to the correct answer quickly! To start, here is the original question with any major differences between the options highlighted in orange:

Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.

(A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were
(B) Heating-oil prices are expected to rise higher this year over last because refiners pay about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
(C) Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
(D) It is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher this year over last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil now than what they were
(E) It is the expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's because refiners pay about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

Because almost the entire sentence is underlined here, there is a lot we can focus on:

1. Heating-oil prices... / Expectations are for heating-oil prices... / It is the expectation that heating-oil prices... (Conciseness/Meaning)
2. than last / over last (Idioms/Parallelism)
3. pay / are paying (Verb Tense/Meaning)
4. ...more for crude oil / ...for crude oil more (Parallelism/Meaning/Conciseness)


The first one that will eliminate 2-3 options right away is #2 on our list: than last vs. over last. This is an issue of idiom usage! We know that it's correct to say that one thing is "higher than" another, and that it is NOT okay to say one thing is "higher over" another. Therefore, we can eliminate the options that use "higher over."

(A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were
(B) Heating-oil prices are expected to rise higher this year over last because refiners pay about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
(C) Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
(D) It is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher this year over last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil now than what they were
(E) It is the expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's because refiners pay about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

There you go! We can eliminate options B & D because they don't follow the proper idiom structure "higher than."

The next one that seems easy to tackle is #4 on our list: more for crude oil vs. for crude oil more. Each phrase is grammatically correct, but they mean two completely different things:

...refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil... = The price of each barrel of oil is $5 higher than before.
...refiners are paying about $5 a barrel for crude oil more... = The price of each barrel of oil is only $5, but refiners are paying that $5 more often than before.

It makes more sense to say that the price of a barrel of crude oil increased by $5, rather than saying it's always been $5 and refiners just pay that more often. So let's eliminate the options that mess up the meaning here:

(A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were
(C) Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
(E) It is the expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's because refiners pay about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

There you have it - option A was the correct choice! It uses concise language, correct idioms, and logical meaning! We didn't even have to deal with the other 2 items on our list because we focused on the ones that eliminated 2-3 options at a time.


Don't study for the GMAT. Train for it.



But usage of than last is not parallel, right? It should have been, "than last year's". Because we are talking about prices. Please explain this.
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau [#permalink]
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NehaKalani wrote:
EMPOWERgmatVerbal wrote:
Hello Everyone!

Let's tackle this question, one issue at a time, and narrow it down to the correct answer quickly! To start, here is the original question with any major differences between the options highlighted in orange:

Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.

(A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were
(B) Heating-oil prices are expected to rise higher this year over last because refiners pay about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
(C) Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
(D) It is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher this year over last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil now than what they were
(E) It is the expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's because refiners pay about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

Because almost the entire sentence is underlined here, there is a lot we can focus on:

1. Heating-oil prices... / Expectations are for heating-oil prices... / It is the expectation that heating-oil prices... (Conciseness/Meaning)
2. than last / over last (Idioms/Parallelism)
3. pay / are paying (Verb Tense/Meaning)
4. ...more for crude oil / ...for crude oil more (Parallelism/Meaning/Conciseness)


The first one that will eliminate 2-3 options right away is #2 on our list: than last vs. over last. This is an issue of idiom usage! We know that it's correct to say that one thing is "higher than" another, and that it is NOT okay to say one thing is "higher over" another. Therefore, we can eliminate the options that use "higher over."

(A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were
(B) Heating-oil prices are expected to rise higher this year over last because refiners pay about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
(C) Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
(D) It is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher this year over last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil now than what they were
(E) It is the expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's because refiners pay about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

There you go! We can eliminate options B & D because they don't follow the proper idiom structure "higher than."

The next one that seems easy to tackle is #4 on our list: more for crude oil vs. for crude oil more. Each phrase is grammatically correct, but they mean two completely different things:

...refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil... = The price of each barrel of oil is $5 higher than before.
...refiners are paying about $5 a barrel for crude oil more... = The price of each barrel of oil is only $5, but refiners are paying that $5 more often than before.

It makes more sense to say that the price of a barrel of crude oil increased by $5, rather than saying it's always been $5 and refiners just pay that more often. So let's eliminate the options that mess up the meaning here:

(A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were
(C) Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
(E) It is the expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's because refiners pay about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

There you have it - option A was the correct choice! It uses concise language, correct idioms, and logical meaning! We didn't even have to deal with the other 2 items on our list because we focused on the ones that eliminated 2-3 options at a time.


Don't study for the GMAT. Train for it.



But usage of than last is not parallel, right? It should have been, "than last year's". Because we are talking about prices. Please explain this.


Hello NehaKalani,

We hope this finds you well.

To answer your query, in this sentence the comparison is actually between "this year" and "last (year)".

We hope this helps.
All the best!
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Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau [#permalink]
mikemcgarry wrote:
spc11 wrote:
I do not follow the explanation for this question.

Can somebody please explain why this sentence is correct (original)?

Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.
My doubts are in these two phrases: "this year than last" and " more for crude oil than they were last year "

Thanks!!

Dear spc11,
I'm happy to respond. :-)

My friend, you may find some answer to your question in the thread above, but I am happy to discuss this as well. One very tricky issue, particularly difficult for folks whose native language is something other than English, is the issue of dropping repeated words in the second branch of parallelism. See this blog article:
Dropping Common Words in Parallel on the GMAT

Consider an expanded version of the sentence:
Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than the heating oil prices last year because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were paying for a barrel of crude oil last year.
That is the whole sentence, with absolutely nothing omitted, so that everything is perfectly clear. The GMAT would consider this completely redundant and much longer than necessary, because every single word in red is repeated. The words in red are words in the second branch or the parallelism that already appeared in the first branch. From the GMAT's point of view, it is redundant to repeat information in the second branch that we already know form the first branch. Thus, the GMAT recommends dropping all the words in red: when we do that, we get the prompt version, choice (A), of this SC problem, a sleek and elegant sentence. The GMAT loves elegance.

Your job on the GMAT SC is to see a sentence with the words already omitted in the second branch of parallelism and to figure out what words from the first branch would be needed to make sense of the second branch.

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)



If I apply the same logic to below sentence:
The climate of California, where I spent my vacation, is warmer than the climate of New york, where my parents live.
Here if I drop the red part then the sentence will become:
The climate of California, where I spent my vacation, is warmer than New york, where my parents live. (This is a wrong comparison)

Please correct my understanding.
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Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau [#permalink]
Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.

(A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were. - this is a good option in terms of comparison

(B) Heating-oil prices are expected to rise higher *redundancy* this year over *higher THAN idiom* last because refiners pay *simple present - eternal fact? It's after last year that they pay* about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

(C) Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's *year vs prices* because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

(D) It is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher this year over *idiom error* last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil now than what they were - I also feel the 'what' is extra nd we can live without it. The refiners are paying more than what they were last year vs paying more than what they were last year. EMPOWERgmatVerbal Can someone confirm the role of what here? I'd like to be sure.

(E) It is expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher *redundant* this year than last year's *year vs year's prices* because refiners pay about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
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Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau [#permalink]
GMATNinja wrote:
Quote:
(A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were

The pronoun “they” always jumps off the page at me, and in this case, it seems to refer to “refiners”, the most recent plural. That’s fine.

I’m also OK with the comparison: “refiners are paying… more for crude oil than they were [paying] last year.” I don't think that it’s ideal, but it’s definitely not wrong, and the GMAT would argue that the word “paying” is implied after “were.” Again, I’m not crazy about it, but it conveys the meaning clearly enough.

So let’s keep (A), I guess.

Quote:
(B) Heating-oil prices are expected to rise higher this year over last because refiners pay about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

The phrase “expected to rise higher this year over last” is definitely a mess. You would never say that prices “rise higher.” They either just rise, or they just ARE higher. I’m also not sure why we would use “over last” instead of “than last.”

The placement of “more” is also really confusing. “More” modifies “pay about $5 a barrel”, and there’s no good reason to stick the word “more” so far away from the phrase it logically modifies.

But for whatever it’s worth: “they” still seems to refer perfectly reasonably to “refiners.” And the word “did” replaces the verb “pay” (or “paid”, since “did” is past tense). So those things are OK.

But I don’t think we can get over the silly placement of “more” and the "rise higher" mess at the beginning of the sentence. So (B) is out.

Quote:
(C) Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

(C) has a couple of problems right in the beginning of the sentence. First of all, I can’t understand why we would say “expectations are for… prices to be higher this year.” That’s a horribly indirect way to say that “prices are expected to be higher.” The prices are the focus of the sentence, and it’s best if the prices are the grammatical subject of the sentence.

The comparison is also pretty goofy. “… heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year’s…” The problem here is the possessive “last year’s.” We could say something like “this year’s prices are higher than last year’s”, or we could say that “prices are higher this year than last year.” But it makes no sense to say that “prices are higher this year than last year’s.”

So (C) is gone.

Quote:
(D) It is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher this year over last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil now than what they were

Like (C), (D) starts with an unnecessarily wordy expression: “it is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher this year…”. That’s not WRONG, exactly, but it’s definitely a crappier way to say “prices are expected to be higher this year…”

There’s also a problem with the phrase “higher this year over last.” You could say that prices were “higher this year than last”, but I can’t understand why we would use “over” in this context.

We also have an extra word that muddies the end of the underlined portion: “refiners are paying… more for crude oil now than what they were last year.” There’s absolutely no reason to include the word “what” in this sentence: “than they were last year” is enough by itself.

That’s enough to let us cross out (D).

Quote:
(E) It is the expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's because refiners pay about $5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

(E) combines a bunch of problems that we saw in the other answer choices. “It is the expected” doesn't make any sense at all, especially when (A) gives us a much nicer option (“prices are expected to be higher…”). Also, there’s no reason to make “last year’s” possessive – see the explanation for (C) for more on this issue.

Finally, it doesn’t make sense to say that “prices will rise higher this year.” You could say that “prices will rise”, or that “prices will be higher”, but it’s redundant (and damned weird) to say “prices will rise higher.”

So (E) is out, and we’re left with (A).


GMATNinja

Thank you for this helpful explanation. To clarify, I am a bit confused on your explanation as to why "last year's" is incorrect in answer C.

I am aware of a correct example of using apostrophe s from Manhattan Prep: "Beethoven's music is considered more revolutionary than Bach's."

"Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's". Is "last year's" incorrect because it seems to refer back to "expectations for heating oil prices", and it is not the expectations itself but rather just the price of the heating oil?

For your other example "prices are higher this year than last year's" --> "last year's" seems to refer to the prices ---> "prices are higher this year than last year's [prices]", so I am also not sure why this is incorrect.

Thank you for your time.
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woohoo921 wrote:
GMATNinja

Thank you for this helpful explanation. To clarify, I am a bit confused on your explanation as to why "last year's" is incorrect in answer C.

I am aware of a correct example of using apostrophe s from Manhattan Prep: "Beethoven's music is considered more revolutionary than Bach's."

"Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's". Is "last year's" incorrect because it seems to refer back to "expectations for heating oil prices", and it is not the expectations itself but rather just the price of the heating oil?

For your other example "prices are higher this year than last year's" --> "last year's" seems to refer to the prices ---> "prices are higher this year than last year's [prices]", so I am also not sure why this is incorrect.

Thank you for your time.

I'd file the possessive in (C) under "confusing" rather than "definitively wrong."

In the Manhattan example both parts of the comparison contain a possessive -- Beethoven's music vs Bach's -- so it stands to reason that the second possessive is doing more or less the same thing as the first.

Contrast that with (C), in which the first part of the comparison contains no possessive. "Heating oil prices" is compared to "last year's." Is that 100% wrong? No. But it's harder to figure out what the possessive is doing here than it was in the Manhattan sentence, right?

Another problem with (C): the placement of the modifier "more." When I see the phrase, "refiners are paying about $5 a barrel for crude oil," I assume that the $5 is an absolute figure -- the barrels themselves cost five bucks each. It's only when I see "more" that I have to reorient my understanding and realize that we're talking about a $5 difference in prices. Again, not a concrete error, but not great.

Because (A) places "more" so much closer to "$5," it's just easier to see that we're talking about a difference in prices, rather than an absolute amount.

All to say: you have a point. I don't think we can say that the comparison in (C) qualifies as an ironclad error that could never show up in a correct answer, but because it introduces confusion that (A) doesn't, it simply isn't as good as (A). That's enough to get rid of (C) in this case.

I hope that helps!
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau [#permalink]
Why is the first sentence correct (“this year” vs "last {year}")while the second one is wrong for its comparisons("prices" vs "a year ago")?


1.Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.
2.Prices at the producer level are only 1.3 percent higher now than a year ago and are going down, even though floods in the Midwest and drought in the south are hurting crops and therefore raised corn and soybean prices.


Thanks
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RicaLin wrote:
Why is the first sentence correct (“this year” vs "last {year}")while the second one is wrong for its comparisons("prices" vs "a year ago")?


1.Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.
2.Prices at the producer level are only 1.3 percent higher now than a year ago and are going down, even though floods in the Midwest and drought in the south are hurting crops and therefore raised corn and soybean prices.


Thanks

I'm not 100% sure that I understand your question, but have you tried reviewing our explanation of (B) in this post?
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau [#permalink]
Can you please tell me difference in this question and question https://gmatclub.com/forum/most-of-the- ... l#p2026208.

In this one, we say that "Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last". Here we are comparing this year to last year as correct.
However in second one, we are saying that "??? newspapers had lower circulation in the six months from October 1995 through March 1996 than in a similar period a year earlier."
Here we are giving reasoning that circulation in one period can be compared with circulation in another period. we can't compare one period with another.
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saketkandoi wrote:
Can you please tell me difference in this question and question https://gmatclub.com/forum/most-of-the- ... l#p2026208.

In this one, we say that "Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last". Here we are comparing this year to last year as correct.
However in second one, we are saying that "??? newspapers had lower circulation in the six months from October 1995 through March 1996 than in a similar period a year earlier."
Here we are giving reasoning that circulation in one period can be compared with circulation in another period. we can't compare one period with another.


Hello saketkandoi,

We hope this finds you well.

To answer your query, in the linked sentence, the comparison is between the prepositional phrases "in the six months from October 1995 through March 1996" and "in a similar period a year earlier".

We hope this helps.
All the best!
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saketkandoi wrote:
Can you please tell me difference in this question and question https://gmatclub.com/forum/most-of-the- ... l#p2026208.

In this one, we say that "Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last". Here we are comparing this year to last year as correct.
However in second one, we are saying that "??? newspapers had lower circulation in the six months from October 1995 through March 1996 than in a similar period a year earlier."
Here we are giving reasoning that circulation in one period can be compared with circulation in another period. we can't compare one period with another.


Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last {year}.
Here, we are comparing prices this year vs last year.

...newspapers had lower circulation in the six months from October 1995 through March 1996 than a similar period a year earlier.

If the first part uses a preposition, we should repeat it in the second part to show what two things are getting compared. We have an option that does just that. Hence, we pick (C).

We could have written: ...newspapers had lower circulation this year than last year.
This would have been acceptable.
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saketkandoi wrote:
Can you please tell me difference in this question and question https://gmatclub.com/forum/most-of-the- ... l#p2026208.

In this one, we say that "Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last". Here we are comparing this year to last year as correct.
However in second one, we are saying that "??? newspapers had lower circulation in the six months from October 1995 through March 1996 than in a similar period a year earlier."
Here we are giving reasoning that circulation in one period can be compared with circulation in another period. we can't compare one period with another.


The underlying principle here is that you can't create parallelism with only a fraction of some grammatical element.

In the linked problem, you want something that will be parallel with "in the six months...", a prepositional phrase.
"The six months..." is not its own grammatical element here—it's the object of the preposition, and therefore only half of the prepositional phrase. Parallelism with only half of an element isn't acceptable.

In the problem here, on the other hand, "this year" and "last [year]" by themselves are WHOLE adverbial modifiers—not just parts of modifiers. Therefore, they are acceptable parallel elements.
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau [#permalink]
GMATNinja wrote:
RicaLin wrote:
Why is the first sentence correct (“this year” vs "last {year}")while the second one is wrong for its comparisons("prices" vs "a year ago")?


1.Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.
2.Prices at the producer level are only 1.3 percent higher now than a year ago and are going down, even though floods in the Midwest and drought in the south are hurting crops and therefore raised corn and soybean prices.


Thanks

I'm not 100% sure that I understand your question, but have you tried reviewing our explanation of (B) in this post[/url]?


Why is the first sentence correct (“this year” vs "last {year}")while the second one is wrong for its comparisons("prices" vs "a year ago")?

I mean the first one's answer tells us that its comparison is (“this year” vs "last {year}")but why can't we consider in the second SC question we take "now" to compare with "a year ago"

1.Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about $5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.
2.Prices at the producer level are only 1.3 percent higher now than a year ago and are going down, even though floods in the Midwest and drought in the south are hurting crops and therefore raised corn and soybean prices.

Thanks
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