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# Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords compenating with

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Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords compenating with  [#permalink]

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19 Nov 2019, 00:15
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Difficulty:

45% (medium)

Question Stats:

58% (01:34) correct 42% (01:31) wrong based on 182 sessions

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Project SC Butler: Day 193: Sentence Correction (SC1)

Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords, compensating with their throat muscles and membranes for their absence by vibrating and generating sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them.

A) compensating with their throat muscles and membranes for their absence by vibrating

B) to compensate with their throat muscles and membranes by vibrating for their absence

C) their throat muscles and membranes being compensated for their absence when they vibrate

D) their throat muscles and membranes compensating for the absence by vibrating

E) with compensation from their throat muscles and membranes for the absence that vibrates

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19 Nov 2019, 00:16
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OFFICIAL EXPLANATION

Project SC Butler: Day 193: Sentence Correction (SC1)

• HIGHLIGHTS

Absolute phrase
The correct answer to this question contains an absolute phrase.
I explain how to spot such phrases after the POE.

Pronoun ambiguity?

In the correct answer, no pronoun ambiguity exists, although I can understand why you might think so.

This guideline governs pronoun ambiguity: A pronoun must have only one logical antecedent.

• If NO noun exists as a possible antecedent, we have a case of The Missing Antecedent, not pronoun ambiguity.

• If one noun is logical as an antecedent but disagrees with the pronoun in number or gender, we have a case of Noun-Pronoun Disagreement, not pronoun ambiguity.

• If more than one noun qualifies as an antecedent, but one noun makes more logical sense than the other, we do not have pronoun ambiguity.

• If two or more nouns qualify as logical antecedents for the pronoun, we have true pronoun ambiguity.

If I am absolutely certain that pronoun ambiguity exists, I eliminate the option.
If I am even slightly doubtful about whether ambiguity exists, I keep the option and hope to find a better answer.

MEANING?
Most bird species do not have vocal chords, but they can sing by vibrating the the muscles and membranes in their throat.
Air from the lungs passes over the vibrating muscles and membranes and generates sound.

THE PROMPT
Quote:
Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords, compensating with their throat muscles and membranes for their absence by vibrating and generating sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them.

• The first part of the non-underlined part of the sentence is an independent clause followed by a comma but not a conjunction (and, but, or).
-- The second part of the sentence cannot be an independent clause.
-- Two independent clauses may be joined by:
(1) comma + conjunction
(2) a semicolon (which could be followed by a word such as however or therefore ["conjunctive adverbs"])

• No option gives us a conjunction. Whatever follows that comma is a modifier—and one that might sound strange.
• The second part of the non-underlined portion commits us to something that is parallel to generating (sound waves)

THE OPTIONS

Quote:
A) Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords, compensating with their throat muscles and membranes for their absence by vibrating and generating sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them.

• the pronoun "their" could refer
-- to most bird species (that are using their throat muscles) or
-- to throat muscles and membranes or
-- to vocal chords
• "for their absence" is weird. This sentence suggests that the birds are responsible for the birds' own absence. (Or the vocal chords' absence? The phrase is ridiculous.)
Eliminate A

Quote:
B) Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords, to compensate with their throat muscles and membranes by vibrating for their absence and generating sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them

• as in (A), the pronoun their has two different referents in the same sentence.

• The phrase vibrating for their absence is babble.
-- The birds' throat muscles and membranes vibrate in order to compensate for the absence of vocal chords.
-- The construction implies that the throat muscles and membranes vibrate for the purpose of their absence (the birds? the muscles and membranes?)
The meaning is illogical.
Eliminate B

Quote:
C) Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords, their throat muscles and membranes being compensated for their absence when they vibrate and generating sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them.

• as in A and B, the pronoun their has two antecedents and is ambiguous
• The phrase being compensated for their absence is illogical. The throat membranes and muscles to do not receive compensation (payment or restitution!) for vibrating.
Eliminate C

Quote:
D) Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords, their throat muscles and membranes compensating for the absence by vibrating and generating sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them.

• I see no errors
• in this option, their shows up once and does not create ambiguity as in A, B, and C because
-- only one noun is a logical antecedent for their: most bird species
-- vocal chords do not have throat muscles.
• we have a very long absolute phrase that modifies the entire idea of the main clause
-- Main clause: Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords
-- Modifier (absolute phrase): their throat muscles and membranes compensating for the absence by vibrating and generating sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them.[/i]

• with respect to the absolute phrase, notice the structure
(1) pronoun/noun + noun modifiers
(2) no working verb.
-- a working verb is a verb that you could put into a main clause.
Working verb: The birds sing.
Not a working verb: The birds singing.
-- ___ING words by themselves are not working verbs.
When I say "by themselves," I mean "not coupled with a helping verb such as IS or ARE."
Working verb: The birds are flying..
Not a working verb: The birds flying.

• An easy example of an absolute phrase to remember and use for comparison if you are confused

-- One example of an absolute phrase in MGMAT Sentence Correction is
His head held high, Owen walked in the room.

His head held high modifies "Owen walked into the room."

-- I highlighted a present participle in our option (D) (compensating) and the past participle in the simple example (held) because absolute phrases often contain participles (verbING or verbED words).
KEEP

Quote:
E) Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords, with compensation from their throat muscles and membranes for the absence that vibrates
[/quote]
• this one is a gift. Eliminate it immediately because an absence that vibrates is utter nonsense.
Do not waste your time analyzing with compensation.
The absence vibrates? No.
Eliminate E

• NOTES

Correct option D uses an absolute phrase.
The phrase their throat muscles and membranes compensating for the absence by vibrating and generating sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them
modifies the idea in the main clause: Most bird species lack vocal chords.
The absolute phrase is not fancy, just long. The absolute phrase tells us more about the fact that most bird species lack vocal chords.

You do not need to worry about the jargon.
You just need to understand how these modifiers work.
They are fairly rare on the GMAT.

When you face a question in which none of the answer choices seems to include an appropriate clause or phrase, you may need to look for an absolute phrase hiding in one of the choices.

Absolute phrases
(1) often seem disconnected from a sentence
(2) consist of a noun/pronoun + noun modifiers (almost always participles or adjectives )
(3) do not contain a working verb
(4) modify (give information about) the whole idea of the main sentence
(5) often seem "stuck onto"the sentence.

Absolute phrases are not clauses. (Absolute phrases contain no working verbs. All clauses contain working verbs.)

Absolute phrases do not create "comma splices."
Comma splice: I enjoyed the delicious food at dinner, my friend made me laugh.
-- comma splices occur when two full independent clauses are "stuck together" with only a comma
-- independent clauses must be connected by [comma + conjunction] or a semicolon.
Occasionally a colon will connect two ICs, though only the first sentence must be an independent clause.
The president's behavior is appalling: using nasty tweets, he attacks people who are testifying under oath.

Takeaways: if you see a noun/pronoun + noun modifier [e.g., their throat muscles and membranes compensating . . .]
(1) that seems sort of "slapped onto" the sentence, and
(2) that modifies the whole main clause,
and everything else is correct, assume that you are dealing with an absolute phrase.

See whether the sentence is similar to
His head held high, Harold walked into the room.
OR (example with a present participle)
His head never drooping, Harold walked into the room.

syedmohammad211 , welcome to SC Butler.

You all did exactly the right thing. You eliminated options and lived with (D).
Mission accomplished.
Remember to explain. Could someone relatively new to studying SC understand what you are talking about? Could that person use your explanation to solve a similar question?

These hard questions can make people feel nervous about posting.
Try not to worry so much. Be willing to be wrong.

This statement might sound silly, but most people have to practice being wrong.
You can condition your nervous system not to freak out at mistakes.
Practice doing so, because almost all of you will make more than a few mistakes on the GMAT.

A couple of these explanations are outstanding.
Everyone: nice work.
Kudos to all.
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Re: Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords compenating with  [#permalink]

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19 Nov 2019, 02:50
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Quote:

Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords, compensating with their throat muscles and membranes for their absence by vibrating and generating sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them.

Hi,
IMO D.

Meaning: Most birds lack vocal chords but they still sing. They[birds] compensate the absence of vocal chords with their throat muscles and membranes. They generate sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them [throat muscles and membrane].

A) compensating with their[birds] throat muscles and membranes for their[birds/vocal chords] absence by vibrating: Incorrect

B) to compensate with their throat muscles and membranes by vibrating for their[birds/vocal chords] absence Incorrect

C) their throat muscles and membranes being compensated for their absence when they vibrate meaning is distorted. Incorrect

D) their throat muscles and membranes compensating for the absence by vibrating: this takes care of pronoun ambiguity and answers the HOW aspect of the main clause. Correct

E) with compensation from their throat muscles and membranes for the absence that vibrates: How could absence vibrate? Incorrect
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Re: Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords compenating with  [#permalink]

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19 Nov 2019, 12:41
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I think the answer is D as it clears the pronoun ambiguity of the second 'their'. But since it is another independent clause, wouldn't it be better separated by a ';' ?
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Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords compenating with  [#permalink]

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19 Nov 2019, 13:37
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Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords, compensating with their throat muscles and membranes for their absence by vibrating and generating sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them.

Seems, all answer choices contain ambiguity of pronoun: there are three instances of "their"/"them" that refer to different antecedents.

Quote:
A) compensating with their throat muscles and membranes for their absence by vibrating

First instance of "their" presumably refers to "bird species" and the second one - to "chords". Wrong

Quote:
B) to compensate with their throat muscles and membranes by vibrating for their absence
. - same pronoun ambiguity as in A; in addition, change in meaning: original sentence uses -ING modifier to present HOW aspect: "compensating". In this answer choice, "to compensate" form means "with intention"

Quote:
C) their throat muscles and membranes being compensated for their absence when they vibrate
- "being" is acceptable as a modifier for the cases when some temporary condition is described, not the case here. So, this option is wrong.

Quote:
D) their throat muscles and membranes compensating for the absence by vibrating
- I chose D only by POE. Pronoun ambiguity is still here

Quote:
E) with compensation from their throat muscles and membranes for the absence that vibrates

"for the absence that vibrates" sounds funny and wrong; literally, the choice says that absence is vibrating.
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Re: Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords compenating with  [#permalink]

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19 Nov 2019, 14:09
1
generis wrote:

Project SC Butler: Day 193: Sentence Correction (SC1)

Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords, compensating with their throat muscles and membranes for their absence by vibrating and generating sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them.

A) compensating with their throat muscles and membranes for their absence by vibrating

B) to compensate with their throat muscles and membranes by vibrating for their absence

C) their throat muscles and membranes being compensated for their absence when they vibrate

D) their throat muscles and membranes compensating for the absence by vibrating

E) with compensation from their throat muscles and membranes for the absence that vibrates

A. 'their absence' sounds like the absence of the birds themselves. wrong choice

B. again "vibrating for their absence" who's absence? the bird's or the vocal chords'?

C. "being compensated for their absence when they vibrate" wrong. so much ambiguity makes me sad

D. ah yes an option that has clear subjects and clear pronouns. lets keep this for now

E. "for the absence that vibrates" Does anyone else has an "absence that vibrates"? nonsensical. therefore wrong.

Through POE it looks like D is the correct answer. Do point out any mistakes in my reasoning.
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Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords compenating with  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 20 Nov 2019, 07:34
1
Quote:
Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords, compensating with their throat muscles and membranes for their absence by vibrating and generating sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them.

This is a tough question. There is a pronoun their that jumps all over the place in all answer choices. In medium-hard questions, one may want to carefully examine the non-underlined portions of the sentence and look for clues. In our case, we have a verb generating and connector and which follow the underlined section. We can see that something must be parallel to and generating [blah-blah].

A) compensating with their throat muscles and membranes for their absence by vibrating
I guess the first their refers to bird species. Alright. What about the second their? Vocal chords or throat muscles and membranes? Vibrating is parallel to generating, but the option is not quite great. Let's keep it for now.

B) to compensate with their throat muscles and membranes by vibrating for their absence
I would argue that the sentence turns into a run-on sentence if we plug option (B). But I do not really understand the meaning of the portion in blue...

C) their throat muscles and membranes being compensated for their absence when they vibrate
This option is just a pure nonsense. Let's think about it. Some organs are being compensated for their absence... Hm... Let's move on.

D) their throat muscles and membranes compensating for the absence by vibrating
The vibrating is parallel to generating. Their refers to bird species. Organs [throat muscles and membranes] compensate for the absence of vocal chords [how?] by vibrating and generating [blah-blah]. This option has the right to live. Also, it is better than anything else we have seen so far.

E) with compensation from their throat muscles and membranes for the absence that vibrates
Even if you accept the highlighted part, the pink remainder of this option is absurd. Absence that vibrates... How could absence vibrate?

Originally posted by mykrasovski on 19 Nov 2019, 20:33.
Last edited by mykrasovski on 20 Nov 2019, 07:34, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords compenating with  [#permalink]

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19 Nov 2019, 21:46
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Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords, compensating with their throat muscles and membranes for their absence by vibrating and generating sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them.

Meaning: Many bird species[plural] sing despite lacking vocal chords. These bird species that lack vocal chords utilize their throat muscles and membranes to compensate for the absence of vocal chords. How are they[bird species] able to use their throat muscles and membranes to compensate for the lack of vocal chords? by: 1. vibrating[with their throat muscles and membranes] and 2: generating sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them[throat muscles and membranes].

A) compensating with their throat muscles and membranes for their absence by vibrating
Let's hope I now have a full understanding of pronoun reference on the GMAT. The pronoun their should refer to the same plural noun. So, if their throat muscles and membranes refer to bird species, then their in their absence must also refer to bird species. Since their absence refers to bird species, we have a pronoun referencing error. The best way to fix the issue is to recall or create a copy of vocal chords. Eliminate option A.

B) to compensate with their throat muscles and membranes by vibrating for their absence.
Similar error in relation to pronoun reference in option A is repeated in option B. Eliminate option B as well.

C) their throat muscles and membranes being compensated for their absence when they vibrate
Same pronoun issue in option C also. Eliminate option C.

D) their throat muscles and membranes compensating for the absence[of vocal chords] by vibrating
This is correct. their rightly refer to bird species. By avoiding a pronoun to refer to vocal chords, the pronoun error is eliminated in option D, since it can be implied that the absence refers to vocal chords. In addition, vibrating is parallel to generating. Keep option D.

E) with compensation from their throat muscles and membranes for the absence that vibrates
There is a parallelism error in option E. I cannot see what is parallel to generating sound waves when air from the lungs passes over them in option E. Option E also has a meaning error as The absence that vibrates? The absence is vibrating? No, absence cannot vibrate. It is the throat muscles and membranes that vibrate. However, since that modifier (that vibrates) is an essential modifier that refers to the immediately preceding noun it can only modify the absence which is illogical. Last but not the least, that vibrates and generating sound waves ... are not parallel. Eliminate option E.

The best answer is option D.
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Re: Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords compenating with  [#permalink]

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20 Nov 2019, 04:15
I have posted the official explanation here
Re: Most bird species sing despite lacking vocal chords compenating with   [#permalink] 20 Nov 2019, 04:15
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