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Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River

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EMPOWERgmat Instructor
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Re: Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jun 2019, 12:28
priyanshu14 wrote:
EMPOWERgmatVerbal wrote:
Hello Everyone!

This is a great example of a list question you might find on the GMAT! Let's take a closer look at this question, one issue at a time, and determine our best course of action! First, here is the original question with any major differences between the options highlighted in orange:

Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River, which flows into the Apalachicola River, could alter the saline content of Apalachicola Bay, which would rob the oysters there of their flavor, and to make them decrease in size, less distinctive, and less in demand.

(A) which would rob the oysters there of their flavor, and to make them decrease in size,
(B) and it would rob the oysters there of their flavor, make them smaller,
(C) and rob the oysters there of their flavor, making them decrease in size,
(D) robbing the oysters there of their flavor and making them smaller,
(E) robbing the oysters there of their flavor, and making them decrease in size,

After a quick glance over the options, a couple things clearly need to be addressed:

1. rob vs. robbing
2. decrease in size vs. smaller


We know already that this is an example of a list question. Whenever we see list questions, we know we must focus on the following:

1. Parallelism (ALL items in the list must be similar in word use, verb tense, structure, etc.)
2. Concision (ALL items should use the most concise wording whenever possible)


The best place to start with any list question is to find any part of the list that isn't underlined. Since that part of the sentence cannot change, ALL other items on the list must match it in verb tense, wording, tone, etc.

Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River, which flows into the Apalachicola River, could alter the saline content of Apalachicola Bay[/color], [u]which would rob the oysters there of their flavor, and to make them decrease in size, less distinctive, and less in demand.

The two items on the list that aren't underlined are "less distinctive" and "less in demand." Would it make more sense to use "decrease in size" or the more concise "smaller" here? Remember - we must use concise wording whenever possible!

(A) which would rob the oysters there of their flavor, and to make them decrease in size,
(B) and it would rob the oysters there of their flavor, make them smaller,
(C) and rob the oysters there of their flavor, making them decrease in size,
(D) robbing the oysters there of their flavor and making them smaller,
(E) robbing the oysters there of their flavor, and making them decrease in size,

We can eliminate options A, C, and E because they are overly wordy. Saying "decrease in size" and "smaller" mean the same thing. The GMAT prefers you use the most concise option whenever possible, so we have to throw these out.

Now that we're left with only options B & D, let's take a closer look. I've included the rest of the sentence surrounding it so problems might be easier to spot:

(B) Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River, which flows into the Apalachicola River, could alter the saline content of Apalachicola Bay, and it would rob the oysters there of their flavor, make them smaller, less distinctive, and less in demand.

This option is INCORRECT because it includes a vague pronoun "it." We're not 100% sure what the pronoun is referring to: increasing demands of the Chattahoochee River, the Apalachicola River, or the Apalachicola Bay?

(D) Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River, which flows into the Apalachicola River, could alter the saline content of Apalachicola Bay, robbing the oysters there of their flavor and making them smaller, less distinctive, and less in demand.

This is CORRECT! It doesn't contain any confusing pronouns, and the parallelism with "robbing" and "making" sounds nice. Also, it uses the concise "smaller" rather than the wordy "decrease in size."


There you go - option D is the best choice!


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


Dear EMPOWERgmatVerbal,

Thanks for the explanation. I am basic in Grammar so, please bear with me for basic questions
I request for detailed explanation of "decrease in size versus smaller"

bb generis GMATNinja

Thanks in advance


Hello priyanshu14!

I'm glad to hear you appreciate the explanations, and don't worry at all about your questions being too simple - they are not at all! Many other students on here are also working on their grammar, so you are not alone!

For this question, there is no difference in the meaning of "decrease in size" versus "smaller." You could use either of them and it wouldn't change the meaning of the sentence. However, when you take the GMAT exam, they prefer that you use short or concise wording whenever you can. Since the phrase you choose is part of a list, it's also a good idea to stick to what the rest of the list looks like. Since the other two items are also written as short as possible, it makes sense to keep them all similar.

to make them decrease in size, less distinctive, and less in demand. = not the shortest/most concise way to say it
to make them smaller, less distinctive, and less in demand. = the shortest/most concise way to say it

Why say 3 words when 1 word will do? That is the main reason we choose "smaller" over "decrease in size."

The only time it would make sense to use "decrease in size" is if it was parallel to the other items in the list. For example, if the list looked like this:

to make them decrease in size, decrease in distinctive markings, and decrease in demand.

I hope this helps! I appreciate you asking, and keep up the great questions!
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Re: Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River   [#permalink] 18 Jun 2019, 12:28

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