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Making things even more difficult has been general market inactivity

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Magoosh GMAT Instructor
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Re: Making things even more difficult has been general market inactivity  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Oct 2018, 12:54
Skywalker18 wrote:
Making things even more difficult has been general market inactivity lately, if not paralysis, which has provided little in the way of pricing guidance.

The original option is an inverted sentence and can be changed as -
General market inactivity, if not paralysis, which has provided little in the way of pricing guidance, has been making things even more difficult lately.

If we have a sentence structure "X is(or was) Y".
-If anything before the verb can be the subject, then that's the subject.
- If nothing before the verb can be the subject, then we have a backward construction/ inverted structure (in which subject follows the verb)

On the table are two cell phones --> Two cell phones are on the table ---> I just changed the order and since the sentence is simple -- it's easy

Can we convert a sentence from backward construction/ inverted structure to a normal construction(in which subject precedes the verb) by just changing the order to Y is X for the original sentence "X is Y" ?

AjiteshArun , GMATNinja , MagooshExpert , VeritasPrepBrian, GMATGuruNY , VeritasKarishma , DmitryFarber , RonPurewal , ChiranjeevSingh , other experts - please enlighten

Hi Skywalker18,

This sentence cannot be broken down into "X is Y" -- "making" here needs to be interpreted either as a part of the verb ("has been making") or as a modifier (which cannot be the subject or object of a sentence). Consider this sentence:

Skywalker was studying for the test all night.

The verb here is "was studying", not just "was". If we invert this sentence:

Studying for the test all night was Skywalker.

we end up with a Yoda-like sentence (which is unfortunately not correct). Alternately, we could use "studying" as a modifier:

Studying for the test all night, Skywalker was determined to get a good score.

However, this only works because we have a separate independent clause (Skywalker was determined...).

I hope that helps!
-Carolyn
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Re: Making things even more difficult has been general market inactivity  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Oct 2018, 18:51
Skywalker18 wrote:
Making things even more difficult has been general market inactivity lately, if not paralysis, which has provided little in the way of pricing guidance.

The original option is an inverted sentence and can be changed as -
General market inactivity, if not paralysis, which has provided little in the way of pricing guidance, has been making things even more difficult lately.

If we have a sentence structure "X is(or was) Y".
-If anything before the verb can be the subject, then that's the subject.
- If nothing before the verb can be the subject, then we have a backward construction/ inverted structure (in which subject follows the verb)

On the table are two cell phones --> Two cell phones are on the table ---> I just changed the order and since the sentence is simple -- it's easy

Can we convert a sentence from backward construction/ inverted structure to a normal construction(in which subject precedes the verb) by just changing the order to Y is X for the original sentence "X is Y" ?

AjiteshArun , GMATNinja , MagooshExpert , VeritasPrepBrian, GMATGuruNY , VeritasKarishma , DmitryFarber , RonPurewal , ChiranjeevSingh , other experts - please enlighten
You should be able to do that, if you already have a correct Y is X in front of you. Just watch out for a few cases in which the X is a little longer than in your examples:

1. In no movie is he the villain.
Here we have to leave the villain where it is (He is the villain in no movie, and not He the villain is in no movie).

2. Rarely are tigers seen in the wild nowadays.
When the is or are is a helping verb, we need to take the rest of the verb into account.
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Re: Making things even more difficult has been general market inactivity  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Oct 2018, 16:01
Hello Everyone!

Let's take a closer look at this question and tackle it, one problem at a time! Before we dive in, here is the original question with any major differences between the options highlighted in orange:

Making things even more difficult has been general market inactivity lately, if not paralysis, which has provided little in the way of pricing guidance.

(A) has been general market inactivity lately, if not paralysis, which has provided
(B) there is general market inactivity, if not paralysis, lately it has provided
(C) general market inactivity, if not paralysis, has lately provided
(D) lately, general market inactivity, if not paralysis, has provided
(E) is that lately general market inactivity, if not paralysis, which provides

After taking a quick glance over the options, there are two main things we can focus on:

1. What comes before the phrase "if not paralysis"
2. What comes after the phrase "if not paralysis"

This sounds like too much to focus on, right? Let's think about this in a different way:

1. Proper placement/use of a non-essential phrase or interjection ("...,if not paralysis,...")
2. Modifier Placement (the phrase "Making things even more difficult" is a modifier)


Let's tackle #1 on our list: non-essential phrases or interjections. In this sentence, the phrase "if not paralysis" is considered an interjection. It's a phrase that's added in to sound more conversational or to add more detail that's not 100% vital to know. For non-essential phrases, they are always put in between commas to indicate that they're not necessary for the sentence to make sense.

To test this, we can cross out the non-essential phrase and check to see if what's left is both a complete sentence and retains its intended meaning. Let's take a look at each option, but with the non-essential phrase crossed out:

(A) Making things even more difficult has been general market inactivity lately, if not paralysis,which has provided little in the way of pricing guidance. --> INCORRECT
(What's left over is a run-on sentence, which means the phrase isn't in the right place or the wording in the rest of the sentence is wrong.)

(B) Making things even more difficult there is general market inactivity, if not paralysis, lately it has provided little in the way of pricing guidance. --> INCORRECT
(What's left over is a run-on sentence, so this is also wrong.)

(C) Making things even more difficult general market inactivity, if not paralysis, has lately provided little in the way of pricing guidance. --> INCORRECT
(This can't stand alone because it needs a comma between "difficult" and "general" to separate the modifier from the subject.)

(D) Making things even more difficult lately, general market inactivity, if not paralysis,has provided little in the way of pricing guidance. --> CORRECT

This is our CORRECT option because it's the only one that uses the non-essential phrase and modifiers correctly!

(E) Making things even more difficult is that lately general market inactivity, if not paralysis,which provides little in the way of pricing guidance. --> INCORRECT
(This is actually a very long sentence fragment! If it cannot stand alone as a complete sentence without the non-essential phrase, it's not the right choice.)

There you have it - option D is the correct choice! It's the only that uses a non-essential phrase correctly, which is a common problem on the GMAT you can easily spot and test out!


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Re: Making things even more difficult has been general market inactivity &nbs [#permalink] 29 Oct 2018, 16:01

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