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Difficulty: 505-555 Level,    Grammatical/Rhetorical Construction,    Modifiers,    Parallelism,                            
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Re: Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River [#permalink]
GMATNinja wrote:
Asad wrote:
GMATNinja
Sir,
Could you check the explanation of choice C and E (the highlighted part)?
I think, 'decrease' is noun, not verb (at least here in this case). Could you clarify if i miss anything here?

The word "decrease" can be a verb or a noun:

  • "With a steady diet of doughnuts and fried pickles, I decreased the size of my belly." - Here, "decrease" is a verb. (Though the content of the sentence may not be totally reasonable.)
  • "After dieting for several months, I noticed a decrease in the size of my belly." - Here, "decrease" is a noun.

Choice (C), for example, uses the structure, "making them [verb]". Let's look at a few simpler examples that use a similar structure:

  • "The robber held the hostages at gunpoint, making them beg for mercy."
  • "When the tourists arrived in Argentina, the locals made them dance the tango."
  • "There are too many people in this pub, so I will start talking about the GMAT to make them leave."

Similarly, in choice (C), we have, "... rob the oysters there of their flavor, making them decrease in size." In this case, "decrease" is an action, just like the underlined verbs in the three examples above.

I hope that helps!


Hi Sir,

Great explanation!!!
So I understand here decrease is a verb with subject being them.
Then how do we interpret the SV pairs in the given sentence:
The medicine makes the baby grow small. Or even in your 2nd example(made them dance the tango)

baby should not be the subject of grow because it is the object of the sentence.
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Re: Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River [#permalink]
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Quote:
Hi Sir,

Great explanation!!!
So I understand here decrease is a verb with subject being them.
Then how do we interpret the SV pairs in the given sentence:
The medicine makes the baby grow small. Or even in your 2nd example(made them dance the tango)

baby should not be the subject of grow because it is the object of the sentence.

Language is complicated: a noun can play more than one role in a sentence. In this case, anytime you have the construction "made X do Y," the X will be doing double-duty: it'll be the thing acted on by the original subject, as well as the thing doing Y.

For example:

    "Tim made his children mow the lawn, and, as a reward, allowed them to have gummy bears for dinner every night for a month."

It's true that the noun "children" functions like an object here, in the sense that the children are the recipient of Tim's questionable parenting. But it's also true that the children are made to do some action. That's fine. Just as it's fine for locals to make the tourists dance the tango.

Most importantly, you likely had no difficulty understanding the meaning of the sentence. It was when you started to apply labels to the component parts that you began to have doubts.

So anytime you find yourself genuinely unsure about whether a given construction acceptable, but the construction you're wondering about seems perfectly logical and consistent with usage you've seen in the past, move on to other elements of the sentence. Otherwise, you run the risk of inventing a rule that doesn't actually exist.

I hope that helps!
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Re: Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River [#permalink]
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jerrywu wrote:
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,


This question is based on Parallelism and Construction.

The relative pronoun ‘which’ refers to the noun placed immediately before it. So, the meaning conveyed by this option is that Apalachicola Bay would rob the oysters….
The infinitive “to make them decrease” also affects the parallelism. So, Option A can be eliminated.


Option B seems to satisfy the rule of parallelism. However, the pronoun ‘it’ is ambiguous because it seems to refer to Apalachicola Bay and that reference would change the meaning and convey the idea that the Bay would rob the oysters of their flavor. So, Option B can be ruled out.

The phrase “making them decrease in size, less distinctive, and less in demand” is not parallel. It should have been phrased – making them decrease in size, become less distinctive, and decrease in demand. So, Option C can be ruled out.

The participle modifiers (robbing…, making…) in Option D are perfectly parallel and convey the meaning that increasing demands on the river could alter the saline content and have certain consequences (robbing…flavor, making…demand) effectively. So, Option D is the best of all the options.

The last part of Option E has the same lack of parallelism as Option C. So, Option E can be ruled out.

Therefore, D is the most appropriate option.

Jayanthi Kumar.
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Re: Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River [#permalink]
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.

Take away, not underlined part must be in sync with underlined part.

(A) which would rob the oysters there of their flavor, and to make them decrease in size,-> two things first, Let's read again decrease in size, less distinctive, and less in demand. Hope you noticed, decrease in size is not comparative like rest of two. Second thing, And is used for parallelism, Does "to make" parallel to "would".
(B) and it would rob the oysters there of their flavor, make them smaller,-> First thing, pronoun "it" refers back to...Oh..there are so many singular nouns. It should refer back to only one.
(C) and rob the oysters there of their flavor, making them decrease in size,->Let's read again decrease in size, less distinctive, and less in demand.
(D) robbing the oysters there of their flavor and making them smaller,-> robbing and making, it is parallel and smaller, less distinctive, and less in demand makes sense.
(E) robbing the oysters there of their flavor, and making them decrease in size,-> Let's read it again decrease in size, less distinctive, and less in demand. Hope you noticed, decrease in size is not comparative like rest of two.

So, I think D. :)
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Re: Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River [#permalink]
Dear All,

I request for more detailed reply on parallelism in D and E. According to me "decrease in size" is noun phrase. I am not clear about "smaller", "less distinctive" and "less in demand".


GMATNinja @Veristaskarishma bb Bunuel egmat

Thanks in advance
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Re: Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River [#permalink]
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priyanshu14 wrote:
Dear All,

I request for more detailed reply on parallelism in D and E. According to me "decrease in size" is noun phrase. I am not clear about "smaller", "less distinctive" and "less in demand".

Thanks in advance

"A decrease in size" would be a noun phrase. However, in this case, we can see that "decrease in size" is not a noun phrase but a verb phrase. After all it follows "making them," and in "making them decrease," "decrease" is a verb.

So, "decrease in size, less distinctive, and less in demand" is not a logical list, because it includes an action, "decrease," along with attributes of the oysters, "less distinctive" and "less in demand."

Regarding "smaller, less distinctive, and less in demand," that is a parallel list of attributes of the oysters. Notice that oysters can become "smaller," oysters can become "less distinctive," and oysters can become "less in demand." So, this list is logical.
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Re: Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River [#permalink]
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priyanshu14 wrote:
Dear All,

I request for more detailed reply on parallelism in D and E. According to me "decrease in size" is noun phrase. I am not clear about "smaller", "less distinctive" and "less in demand".


GMATNinja @Veristaskarishma bb Bunuel egmat

Thanks in advance


Hello priyanshu14,

We hope this finds you well.

Having gone through the question and your query, we believe we can resolve your doubts.

Firstly, in this context "decrease" is a verb; "decrease" is only a noun when it is preceded by a preposition, such as "a" or "the", and here it is preceded by the verb phrase "making them".

Secondly, in Option D "smaller", "less distinctive", and "less in demand" are all adjectives that apply to the oysters.

Thus, Option E does not maintain parallelism among "decrease in size", "less distinctive", and "less in demand", as the first is a noun, and the others are adjectives. Option D does maintain parallelism, as "smaller", "less distinctive", and "less in demand" are all adjectives.

We hope this helps.
All the best!
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Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River [#permalink]
GMATNinja wrote:
There’s a lot of funny-sounding stuff in this one: two consecutive “which” modifiers in some answer choices, plus it’s really, really hard to quickly say “oysters there of their flavor” five times in a row. But by now, you don’t care about “sound” on SC… right? :)

Quote:
(A) which would rob the oysters there of their flavor, and to make them decrease in size,

The first thing that jumps out at me is the underlined “which” modifier. I don’t think that it makes a whole lot of sense: “Apalachicola Bay” certainly doesn’t “rob oysters there of their flavor”, and neither does “the saline content of Apalachicola Bay.” The alteration of the saline content robs oysters of their flavor – but that’s a verb here (“could alter”), and “which” generally doesn’t modify a verb on the GMAT.

The parallelism is also a huge problem here. The phrase “to make” follows the “and”, so we’d need another infinitive verb earlier in the sentence. But I don’t see anything that could possibly work.

So we can eliminate (A).

Quote:
(B) and it would rob the oysters there of their flavor, make them smaller,

Hopefully, the word “it” jumps out at you whenever you see it. You’re looking for a singular referent, but in this case, I don’t see a lot of great options: we have the saline content, Apalachicola Bay, or a couple of different rivers, but none of those are really performing the action of robbing oysters of their flavor. It’s the alteration of the saline content – caused by increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River – that rob the oysters of their flavor. So the pronoun “it” is wrong.

Plus, we have some funky parallelism stuff going on here: “rob the oysters there of their flavor, make them smaller, less distinctive, and less in demand.” I’d be OK if there was an “and” before “make”: that way, “smaller”, “less distinctive”, and “less in demand” could all be parallel to each other.

But in this case, the list makes no sense: it’s a hodgepodge of verbs (“rob” and “make”) and modifiers (“less distinctive” and “less in demand”). (B) is definitely out.

Quote:
(C) and rob the oysters there of their flavor, making them decrease in size,

This one is tricky! It looks like “rob” is parallel to the verb “could alter”, and I guess that’s OK: “… increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River… could alter the saline content… and rob oysters there of their flavor…” That doesn’t sound too bad, but we could argue that the alteration of the saline content is the thing that robs the oysters of their flavor, not the “increasing demands on the river” – so the two verbs “rob” and “could alter” probably shouldn’t be parallel to each other. That’s awfully subtle, and you shouldn’t feel badly if you didn’t notice that there’s a problem with it.

The other issue with (C) is the parallelism at the end of the sentence: “making them decrease in size, less distinctive, and less in demand.” So “less in demand” and “less distinctive” are both modifiers. Fair enough. But then “decrease in size” is a verb phrase, which can’t be parallel to those two modifiers.

Nasty stuff, in my opinion. (C) is gone.

Quote:
(D) robbing the oysters there of their flavor and making them smaller,

This sounds weird. “Robbing the oysters there of their flavor and making them smaller…” Hm, that’s a mouthful. Say it five times fast, and you probably won’t want to choose it as your answer.

But it’s right. “Robbing the oysters there of their flavor” is now a modifier, giving us more information about the entire previous clause about increasing demands on the river, and alterations of the saline content. That makes perfect sense: the entire, long-winded situation – beginning with the “increasing demands” on the river – robs oysters of their flavor, so the “-ing” modifier is perfect.

And the parallelism at the end of the sentence is great, too: “making them smaller, less distinctive, and less in demand.” Three parallel modifiers, all describing what happens to the oysters.

Let’s keep (D).

Quote:
(E) robbing the oysters there of their flavor, and making them decrease in size,

The comma after “flavor” is a minor issue. In general, the GMAT doesn’t spend a lot of time testing us on the subtleties of comma usage, but there’s no real need for the comma here, since “robbing” and “making” are very nicely parallel with each other. Don’t lose sleep over this, since it’s rarely – if ever – a deciding factor on these questions.

The bigger issue is the parallelism error at the end of the sentence: just as in (C), “decrease in size” isn’t parallel to “less distinctive” and “less in demand,” since “decrease” is a verb. And that’s the best reason to eliminate (E), and settle for (D).


"This one is tricky! It looks like “rob” is parallel to the verb “could alter”, and I guess that’s OK: “… increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River… could alter the saline content… and rob oysters there of their flavor…” That doesn’t sound too bad, but we could argue that the alteration of the saline content is the thing that robs the oysters of their flavor, not the “increasing demands on the river” – so the two verbs “rob” and “could alter” probably shouldn’t be parallel to each other. That’s awfully subtle, and you shouldn’t feel badly if you didn’t notice that there’s a problem with it."

I am a bit confused about the part above here. I never thought X, and Y type of sentence structure could be parallel. Usually if it's a ", and" X and Y will both be independent clauses right? For example in the sentence "I love eating ice-cream, and I also like chocolate" I wouldn't say these two are parallel, more like two independent clauses sewn together.
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Re: Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River [#permalink]
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distantcrimson wrote:
GMATNinja wrote:

Quote:
and rob the oysters there of their flavor, making them decrease in size,


"This one is tricky! It looks like “rob” is parallel to the verb “could alter”, and I guess that’s OK: “… increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River… could alter the saline content… and rob oysters there of their flavor…” That doesn’t sound too bad, but we could argue that the alteration of the saline content is the thing that robs the oysters of their flavor, not the “increasing demands on the river” – so the two verbs “rob” and “could alter” probably shouldn’t be parallel to each other. That’s awfully subtle, and you shouldn’t feel badly if you didn’t notice that there’s a problem with it."

{...}



I am a bit confused about the part above here. I never thought X, and Y type of sentence structure could be parallel. Usually if it's a ", and" X and Y will both be independent clauses right? For example in the sentence "I love eating ice-cream, and I also like chocolate" I wouldn't say these two are parallel, more like two independent clauses sewn together.

GMATNinja

That is generally the case, but the GMAT is pretty lenient when it comes to comma usage. We've seen plenty of "extra" commas in correct answers choices that serve no other apparent function than to add a pause, or separate different parts of the sentence for clarity. (See what I did with that last comma?)

Is the comma enough of a reason to eliminate (C)? Probably not. But even if we're okay with the comma, we have a subtle meaning issue, as discussed above.

Luckily, the parallelism isn't quite right at the end of the sentence in (C), so we don't have to worry too much about anything else.

I hope that helps!
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Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River [#permalink]
I'm not sure if this will help anyone, but the following was the main reason I eliminated D, after shortlisting it based on parallelism. After reading the replies, I now know where I went wrong.

I usually split the sentence into two parts : with the clause before 'and' and the clause after - to see if they make sense independent of each other.

D.1 : Over the next few years, increasing demands on the C River could alter the saline content of A Bay, robbing the oysters there of their flavor.

D.2 :Over the next few years, increasing demands on the C River could alter the saline content of A Bay, making them smaller,less distinctive, and less in demand.

In D.2 - 'them' has no Antecedent. So, I eliminated option D.

But I now realise that when we use parallelism, while the two clauses have to be parallel, the pronoun from the second clause can refer to the noun in the first clause.

.
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