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Difficulty: 655-705 Level,   Modifiers,                     
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
To keep it simple, here's how we look at it:

Originally developed for [X], [a particular technique]...is finding uses in x, y, and z.

This is a lot easier to comprehend and work with. Thinking like this will cut down the potential for stupid, overlooked mistakes.

Pay attention to "prepositional phrases" - keywords like "for" "in" etc...or just general phrases.

In the above example, I read:

"which can quickly analyze the chemical elements"

as "which can blah blah blah"

I read: "in almost any substance without destroying"
as: "in blah...without destroying it"

I read: "Originally developed for detecting air pollutants"
as
"Originally developed for blah..."

I read: "a technique called proton-induced X-ray remission"
as
"a technique called blah.."

Get used to using "blah" to replace fancy parts of the sentence and you'll be surprised at how simple a lot of these GMAT questions actually are.
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
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Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called proton-induced x-ray emission, which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it, is finding uses in medicine, archaeology, and criminology.

(A) Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called proton-induced x-ray emission, which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it,
Correct ! As 'Originally developed' modifies 'a technique' and 'which' modifies 'x-ray emission' and the sentence has a verb 'is finding'
(B) Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, having the ability to analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it, a technique called proton induced x-ray emission
Two Long modifiers in a sequence => awkwardness
(C) A technique originally developed for detecting air pollutants,called proton-induced x-ray emission, which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it,
Cutting of non-essential modifier , sentence doesn't make sense.
(D) A technique originally developed for detecting air pollutants, called proton-induced x-ray emission, which has the ability to analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance quickly and without destroying it,
Same as (C).
(E) A technique that was originally developed for detecting air pollutants and has the ability to analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance quickly and without destroying the substance, called proton-induced x-ray emission,
Quickly should modify CAN and has been placed incorrectly.
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
1- A technique called ABC, which does XYZ...
2- called ABC, which does XYZ...

My understanding is that "which" always modifies the word that precedes it. However in (1), "which" modifies "technique" while in (2) it modifies "ABC". Why doesn't it modify "ABC" in both (1) and (2).

My question stems from this GMAT SC question:
Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called proton-induced x-ray emission, which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it, is finding uses in medicine, archaeology, and criminology.

The sentence itself is correct while in this answer choice explanation:

(C) A technique originally developed for detecting air pollutants, called proton-induced x-ray emission, which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it,

...it mentions that "which' refers to emission while in the original sentence "which" refers to "technique"

Are there other circumstances like the one example above in which "which" does not refer directly to the word preceding it?
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
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Sure, there are exceptions to the "touch rule." Most commonly, we'll break the rule when a modifier is an essential part of the way we describe a noun. Take a look at these examples:

The King of Spain, who visited Washington last month . . .
The jar of peanut butter, which shattered on the floor . . .


It's clear that Spain didn't visit Washington and the peanut butter didn't shatter, but we need those modifiers to make the meaning clear, and it would be pretty hard to rewrite those sentences to make the modifiers touch "King" and "jar."

In the case you cited, it's worth noticing that proton-induced x-ray emission is the technique, so there's less worry about ambiguity when the modifier doesn't touch "technique."
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
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farrous13 wrote:
1- A technique called ABC, which does XYZ...
2- called ABC, which does XYZ...

My understanding is that "which" always modifies the word that precedes it. However in (1), "which" modifies "technique" while in (2) it modifies "ABC". Why doesn't it modify "ABC" in both (1) and (2).

My question stems from this GMAT SC question:
Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called proton-induced x-ray emission, which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it, is finding uses in medicine, archaeology, and criminology.

The sentence itself is correct while in this answer choice explanation:

(C) A technique originally developed for detecting air pollutants, called proton-induced x-ray emission, which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it,

...it mentions that "which' refers to emission while in the original sentence "which" refers to "technique"

Are there other circumstances like the one example above in which "which" does not refer directly to the word preceding it?


True ... which follows the touch rule, but unfortunately everything does not runs by the rules in grammar.
There are some exceptions to the touch rule. So, as a best practice, make sure to recheck the meaning of the sentence once you have identified the answer.
See if which is logically modifying something or not. This would give you another check point in verifying the answer.
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
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The phrase leading up to the comma is a modifying phrase. It's describing something that was developed for detecting air pollutants. When you open a sentence with a modifying phrase followed by a comma, the word after the comma should be whatever is being modified. Here, the thing that was developed for detecting air pollutants was the technique, so that should be the word after the comma in answer B.

The key pattern here is the modifying phrase at the beginning. Many modifying phrases are participial phrases (phrases built around -ed, and -ing verb participles). Some examples:

Published in Chicago,____
Discovered in London,___
Hoping to influence voters,____

In each of these cases, the thing after the comma needs to be whatever is described before the comma. So, for practice, for each of the examples above, choose one of the two options below.

Published in Chicago,____ (the journalist... / the newspaper....)
Discovered in a lab at Imperial College in London,___ (Penicillin... / Alexander Fleming...)
Hoping to influence voters,____ (the politician gave an impassioned speech / an impassioned speech was given by the politition)

It's also worth noting that if there were no comma, then grammatically you'd be right that 'having the ability' would refer to 'air polutants'. Then we'd be talking about a specific kind of air pollutant -- 'air pollutants having the ability to analyze compounds.' But there are two problems with this: 1) there is a comma, so the 'having the ability' phrase is not restrictive and 2) it doesn't make sense for pollutants to analyze compounds. (meaning and logic are just as if not more important than grammar rules in SC.)
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
Is it me or does it seem awkward that the modifier in A modifies a technique?
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
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warriorguy wrote:
Is it me or does it seem awkward that the modifier in A modifies a technique?


In A, both the modifiers are clearly modifying the technique without any ambiguity.

(A) Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called proton-induced x-ray emission, which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it,
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
abhimahna wrote:
warriorguy wrote:
Is it me or does it seem awkward that the modifier in A modifies a technique?


In A, both the modifiers are clearly modifying the technique without any ambiguity.

(A) Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called proton-induced x-ray emission, which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it,



I don't think the second modifier is modifying the technique. Or is it? Lol. I was under the impression that which will modify the noun it touches.

So the first part modifies technique and second part modifies emission or x-ray emission.
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
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Well, in this case "proton-induced x-ray emission" is the name of the technique, so it's all the same. Similarly, if a sentence began "A man named Larry, who . . . ," we wouldn't have to worry about whether "who" modified "man" or "Larry."
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
Hi experts,
sometimes, I am still confused that what does "comma which" modify, for this case, I wanna deep discuss the "comma which" modifier, purely discuss it , based on grammar rather than other errors.

Please review C,
A technique originally developed for detecting air pollutants, called proton-induced X-ray emission, which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it,

here, called proton-induced X-ray emission is a modifier and set off by a pair of comma, this structure means that called proton-induced X-ray emission is a non vital modifier, so I can split it , then the simple version is :

A technique originally developed for detecting air pollutants which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it,

we can figure out which modifier follows air pollutants and is without comma, generally, which modifier follows a comma,-- this is error 1
when I split it, which modifies preceding noun "air pollutants", -- this is error 2 -- nonsense.

my question is :
1/
cross off it because error 1 -- without comma before which,
does this reasoning apply to GMAT SC as a reason to cross off ?

2/
non vital modifier set off by a pair of commas, then the simple version will be which modifier follows a noun/noun phrase, in this case, which modifier modifies air pollutants,
Does this condition imply which modifier can jump over the non vital modifier and then modify the preceding noun if the meaning is logical ? what's the role of which modifier? is it still a non vital modifier? (because i know, comma which modifier is general non vital modifier.

genuinely wanna your help, especial @Mike's :P

have a nice day.
>_~
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
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zoezhuyan wrote:
Hi experts,
sometimes, I am still confused that what does "comma which" modify, for this case, I wanna deep discuss the "comma which" modifier, purely discuss it , based on grammar rather than other errors.

Please review C,
A technique originally developed for detecting air pollutants, called proton-induced X-ray emission, which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it,

here, called proton-induced X-ray emission is a modifier and set off by a pair of comma, this structure means that called proton-induced X-ray emission is a non vital modifier, so I can split it , then the simple version is :

A technique originally developed for detecting air pollutants which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it,

we can figure out which modifier follows air pollutants and is without comma, generally, which modifier follows a comma,-- this is error 1
when I split it, which modifies preceding noun "air pollutants", -- this is error 2 -- nonsense.

my question is :
1/
cross off it because error 1 -- without comma before which,
does this reasoning apply to GMAT SC as a reason to cross off ?

2/
non vital modifier set off by a pair of commas, then the simple version will be which modifier follows a noun/noun phrase, in this case, which modifier modifies air pollutants,
Does this condition imply which modifier can jump over the non vital modifier and then modify the preceding noun if the meaning is logical ? what's the role of which modifier? is it still a non vital modifier? (because i know, comma which modifier is general non vital modifier.

genuinely wanna your help, especial @Mike's :P

have a nice day.
>_~

Dear zoezhuyan,

My friend, I hope you are well. I'm happy to respond. :-)

My friend, I am going to say two things:
1) Please stop picking incorrect answers to GMAT SC questions and asking about the grammar of them. These are incorrect because they are flawed, often in more than one way. If you want to understand correct grammar, only pick correct answer as examples about which to ask.
2) You are looking for mathematical rules for how modifiers behave. Modifiers depend on logic and meaning, and these don't follow clean neat patterns.

You may be familiar with ancient Chinese Daoist master Laozi. His Daodejing begins with the sentence:
Attachment:
Daodejing, first sentence.jpg
Daodejing, first sentence.jpg [ 28.76 KiB | Viewed 6814 times ]

Roughly, we could say that this implies that patterns of meaning, whether in GMAT SC or in the larger questions of life, do not follow fixed rigid mathematical patterns.

Does all this make sense?

Take very good care of yourself, my friend.

Mike :-)
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
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tejal777 wrote:
Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called proton-induced x-ray emission, which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it, is finding uses in medicine, archaeology, and criminology.


(A) Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called proton-induced x-ray emission, which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it,
Perfect! Opening modifier modifying technique correctly. Usage of which is correct. What does 'it' refer to? it refers unambiguously to substance. Hold on this choice.

(B) Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, having the ability to analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it, a technique called proton induced x-ray emission
The opening modifier is modifying having the ability, which is NON SENSICAL. This choice is having misplaced modifiers therefore, incorrect.

Lets try displacing the modifier and make it correct,
Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called proton induced x-ray emission, having the ability to analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it,
After displacement, still the usage of having is not correct. Having is used, when we have two actions in the past and having is used to convey the first action. Here, we are not having that scenario.


(C) A technique originally developed for detecting air pollutants, called proton-induced x-ray emission, which can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it,
The VERB-ed modifier should be placed close to the noun it is modifying. Here, called is placed too far away from the technique. Therefore, incorrect.

(D) A technique originally developed for detecting air pollutants, called proton-induced x-ray emission, which has the ability to analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance quickly and without destroying it,
The VERB-ed modifier should be placed close to the noun it is modifying. Here, called is placed too far away from the technique. Therefore, incorrect.

(E) A technique that was originally developed for detecting air pollutants and has the ability to analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance quickly and without destroying the substance, called proton-induced x-ray emission,
Verb is missing for the main subject technique. Repeats similar errors as choice C and D. Here, the pronoun it is replaced with the substance to remove the ambiguity. But because of the previous errors this choice is incorrect.
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
What does "it" in (A) stands for?
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
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lakshya14 wrote:
What does "it" in (A) stands for?
Hi lakshya14,

That it refers to the substance introduced just before it.

... quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying it... ← The technique can quickly analyze the chemical elements in almost any substance without destroying that substance.
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
can someone explain if "it" refers to chemical elements in portion "without destroying it"?
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Re: Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, a technique called [#permalink]
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Bernish wrote:
can someone explain if "it" refers to chemical elements in portion "without destroying it"?

Hi Bernish, note that it cannot refer to chemical elements, because chemical elements is plural while it can only refer to singular non-person.

p.s. Our book EducationAisle Sentence Correction Nirvana discusses the concept of Eligible antecedents of Pronouns. Have attached the corresponding section of the book, for your reference.
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Pronous eligible antecedents.pdf [624.22 KiB]
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