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Like humans and other primates, most whales, dolphins, and porpoises

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Veritas Prep GMAT Instructor
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Concentration: Leadership, Organizational Behavior
Like humans and other primates, most whales, dolphins, and porpoises  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Mar 2018, 06:40
3
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A
B
C
D
E

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  25% (medium)

Question Stats:

72% (01:08) correct 28% (01:21) wrong based on 165 sessions

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Like humans and other primates, most whales, dolphins, and porpoises shed skin and hair continuously, a little at a time, throughout the year.


(A) Like humans and other primates, most whales, dolphins, and porpoises shed skin and hair continuously, a little at a time, throughout the year.

(B) Like that of humans and other primates, most whales, dolphins, and porpoises shed skin and hair continuously throughout the year, a little at a time.

(C) As humans and other primates, most whales, dolphins, and porpoises shed skin and hair continuously throughout the year, a little at a time.

(D) Most whales, dolphins, and porpoises shed skin and hair continuously throughout the year, a little at a time, as humans and other primates.

(E) Most whales, dolphins, and porpoises, like humans and other primates do, shed skin and hair continuously throughout the year, a little at a time.

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Re: Like humans and other primates, most whales, dolphins, and porpoises  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Mar 2018, 06:41
5
This problem is a classic example of how the GMAT tests comparisons and related items, using the decision point “like” versus “as”. “Like” is appropriately used when we are comparing nouns; “as” is the correct construction when we are comparing actions or clauses. Let’s take a look at the answer choices to see how this rule can be leveraged…

Answer choice A is the correct answer. It uses “like” to set up a comparison between two composite nouns: “humans and other primates” and “most whales, dolphins, and porpoises”. None of the other answer choices correctly set up this comparison. One of the reasons why test takers don’t like answer choice A is because of a little thing I like to call “Convoluted Camouflage” – whereby the test makes an answer choice sound a little complicated or confusing so that people avoid picking it. The comma separating “primates” and “most whales” makes answer choice A appear less like a comparison and more like a long list of items. However, the comma has a different function here: separating a modifier from the rest of the sentence. While such construction is grammatically legal, it looks a little funny.

Answer choice B begins with the phrase “Like that of humans and other primates, most whales, dolphins, and porpoises…” The word “that” in this context is a forward-looking pronoun, whose antecedent seems to refer to skin. However, this sets up an incorrect comparison. This comparison tries to compare “skin” to other things that shed skin. While both of those things are nouns, they are not comparable things. You can compare animals to animals and skins to skins, but you can’t compare animals to skins. (It may be worth noting here, too, that forward-looking pronouns such as “that” are sometimes used by the GMAT in correct answers as well. Since this is a common construction, some test takers erroneously watch for this and assume it must be right. Don’t fall for the trap! It is only right if it makes sense!)

Answer choice C uses the word “as” to set up the comparative structure. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with this, as long as we are comparing actions or clauses. If answer choice C began with the phrase “As humans and other primates do” or “As humans and other primates shed their skin”, it would work. Such construction would allow us to compare a clause to a clause. However, “humans and other primates” is not an action or clause. C can be eliminated.

Answer choice D has the exact same thing wrong with it as C does, except it moves the modifier to the end of the sentence. The phrase, “humans and other primates” is not a clause, since it contains no verb; however, D uses the word “as” to set up the comparison. “As” is used to compare clauses or actions, not nouns. If answer choice D ended “as humans and other primates do”, it would grammatically function. Since this is not the case, we can eliminate D.

Answer choice E incorrectly uses the leverage word “like” to set up a comparison using a clause. “Like” is used to compare nouns, but answer choice E uses the phrase “like humans and other primates do” (which includes a verb.) E can be eliminated.

We are left with only one answer choice: A. All the other answer choices break a fundamental rule dealing with “like” versus “as”. However, A sounds a little confusing. I sometimes like to compare Sentence Correction questions to corrupt mechanics. You bring your car in because it is making a funny sound. The sound is benign and totally within the parameters of normal car functions, but it makes us nervous. The mechanic puts a little oil in the spot to make things sound better to our ears, but then the mechanic breaks something else in the car so we have to come back later for repairs. In similar manner, the GMAT sometimes “fixes” parts of a sentence that sound funny but are grammatically legal, while breaking something else later on in the sentence. We fall for the trap because our ears are searching for an answer choice that “sounds” right. This is a dangerous strategy on the GMAT, and often results in wrong answers.

Answer choice A is correct.

(By the way, for those of you preparing for the GMAT, there are multiple ways of using "as" in a sentence besides setting up a comparison. Don't limit your understanding of "as" solely to the principles discussed in this question. "As" can also be used as a subordinating conjunction to introduce a dependent clause. For example, "As I went running, I saw John" communicates that I saw John while I was running. "As" can also be a simple preposition. For example, "For Halloween, I dressed up as a Jedi." Last but not least, "as" actually CAN be used to compare nouns to nouns, as long as you create an "AS sandwich", sandwiching another adjective between two "as" words -- "as big as", "as green as", "as small as", etc.)
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Aaron J. Pond
Veritas Prep Elite-Level Instructor

Hit "+1 Kudos" if my post helped you understand the GMAT better.
Look me up at https://www.veritasprep.com/gmat/aaron-pond/ if you want to learn more GMAT Jujitsu.

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Re: Like humans and other primates, most whales, dolphins, and porpoises  [#permalink]

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New post 16 May 2018, 23:54
AaronPond wrote:
Like humans and other primates, most whales, dolphins, and porpoises shed skin and hair continuously, a little at a time, throughout the year.


(A) Like humans and other primates, most whales, dolphins, and porpoises shed skin and hair continuously, a little at a time, throughout the year.

(B) Like that of humans and other primates, most whales, dolphins, and porpoises shed skin and hair continuously throughout the year, a little at a time.

(C) As humans and other primates, most whales, dolphins, and porpoises shed skin and hair continuously throughout the year, a little at a time.

(D) Most whales, dolphins, and porpoises shed skin and hair continuously throughout the year, a little at a time, as humans and other primates.

(E) Most whales, dolphins, and porpoises, like humans and other primates do, shed skin and hair continuously throughout the year, a little at a time.


VERITAS PREP OFFICIAL SOLUTION:



Whenever you see trigger words such as “like” and “as”, you should be looking for comparison errors. A comparison should always be Logical, Idiomatic, and Parallel (LIP acronym), so focus on those elements. Here you should first note the idiomatic choice between “like” and “as” and evaluate that decision point. “Like” is mostly used as a preposition to make comparisons between dissimilar nouns or to modify action in a sentence. “As” is more commonly used as conjunction to link clauses but can also be a preposition meaning “in the capacity or role of”.

Given that distinction, you should realize that “as” is completely illogical in (C) and (D) as it would mean that “whales, dolphins, and porpoises” do things “as humans and primates” (do they somehow transform into them?). The comparison must be made with “like,” as the goal is to show that whales, dolphins, and porpoises are similar to humans and primates in how they shed skin and hair. (E) improperly uses an active verb “do” after “like” – the modifier is for three nouns (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) so modifying them with an action is illogical.

The remaining choice between (A) and (B) is relatively easy – the use of “that” creates an ambiguous reference, as there is nothing for it to refer to. You are not comparing some property of humans and primates to whales, dolphins, and porpoises; you are comparing the humans and primates themselves to the other animals. The correct answer is (A).
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Re: Like humans and other primates, most whales, dolphins, and porpoises &nbs [#permalink] 16 May 2018, 23:54
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