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Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly

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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 13 May 2018, 12:16
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NikMan wrote:
Hello GMATNinja,

Your patience and humility are a source of constant inspiration for me and so many others like me. I hope to learn a lot from you (about GMAT & about life).

Coming back to the question here, I have following specific queries. Please excuse me if these are too basic or non-sensical; I am learning slowly but surely.

Quote:
Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly a dozen of them, that consist of several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that tend to switch coteries frequently, and their new pups.

(B) of roughly a dozen animals, each with several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that switch coteries frequently, and their new pups.

"Each" seems to refer to "animals", and that makes no sense at all. And "their new pups" is shaky, too, as mentioned above. Eliminate (B).


1. "of roughly a dozen animals" is a prep modifier modifying colonies thus I thought that each clearly referred back to colonies especially since it doesn't make sense for each to modifiy animals. What is wrong in this?
2. Why exactly is "that" wrong in "several breeding females that often stay together"? Is it because that can't be used as a pronoun to refer back to animals? If that's the case, Can that ever be used as a pronoun?
3. Their is incorrect because it can refer to either males or females, right? I somehow considered that it modified both males & females since new pups should belong to both. I think I see my mistake here.

Thanks
Hitesh

Thank you for the kind words, NikMan! Glad to hear that my GMAT Club ramblings have been helpful. :-)

On to your questions...

    1. The trouble with the pronoun "each" is that it's placed right next to "animals", so it sounds like "each" refers to "animals." You're right that "each" logically needs to refer to "colonies", but the placement of "each" is confusing and not ideal. Notice that "each" isn't even present in the correct answer.
    2. The modifier is actually fine in the phrase you mentioned: "several breeding females that often stay together." The females stay together, right? So I don't see any issue there -- and that phrase is in the correct answer, too. But yes, "that" can definitely be used as a pronoun -- check out this article or this video for more on "that".
    3. Yeah, it's just clearer in this case if "their" is replaced with "the females'". Pronoun ambiguity isn't an absolute rule on the GMAT (more on that in this video), so we can debate whether "their" is DEFINITELY WRONG here, but it's definitely better to remove the ambiguity entirely since we have that option.

I hope this helps, and have fun studying!
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jul 2018, 03:17
1
GMATNinja wrote:
This is a classic case of "I really don't like the right answer, but I found four wrong answer choices, so... I guess the GMAT doesn't care whether I like anything."

Quote:
(A) of roughly a dozen of them, that consist of several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that tend to switch coteries frequently, and their new pups.

All sorts of weird stuff here. "Them" is a problem: if it refers to the most recent plurals ("coteries" or "colonies"), then it makes no sense. I suppose that it's possible that "them" reaches all the way back to "prairie dogs", but even then, it would be a little bit redundant ("prairie dogs live in colonies of roughly a dozen prairie dogs"). I'm also not crazy about "their new pups," because "their" would seem to refer to "coteries" (which makes no sense) or "males" (which doesn't make too much sense, since the males switch coteries frequently).

If you wanted to be really conservative, I suppose that you could hang onto (A), but there's a lot of crappy stuff here, and we'll have a better option below.

Quote:
(B) of roughly a dozen animals, each with several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that switch coteries frequently, and their new pups.

"Each" seems to refer to "animals", and that makes no sense at all. And "their new pups" is shaky, too, as mentioned above. Eliminate (B).

Quote:
(C) that have roughly a dozen of them, with several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that tend to switch coteries frequently, and the females’ new pups.

"Them" has the same problem as in (A). Again, you could be conservative and keep this one for now if you really wanted to, but I think we can do better.

Quote:
(D) of roughly a dozen, consisting of several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that tend to switch coteries frequently, and the females’ new pups.

And this is better! We could argue that "of roughly a dozen" doesn't sound great, but nobody cares about sound here. There's no pronoun issue whatsoever -- and "the females' new pups" clarifies the end of the sentence, too. Keep (D).

Quote:
(E) with roughly a dozen animals, each coterie includes several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that tend to switch coteries frequently, and the females’ new pups.

I actually think that the first part of the sentence sounds good here, but we should never worry about "sound" on GMAT SC. More importantly: this is a classic comma splice, featuring two full sentences improperly separated by a full comma. So it's wrong, even if we think it sounds nice. Eliminate (E).

That leaves us with (D).


Hi,
I was taught that the Verb-ing modifier after a comma in answer (D) must have the subject of the main clause as a doer to either describe the consequence of the action or further explains the action from the main clause. Hence, this answer (D) should've written without the comma before "consisting" to correctly modify "colonies".
Source: e-gmat
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How is this acceptable in this situation?

If you have time please advise. Your help is highly appreciated

Thank you
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Oct 2018, 22:51
VodkaHelps wrote:
GMATNinja wrote:
This is a classic case of "I really don't like the right answer, but I found four wrong answer choices, so... I guess the GMAT doesn't care whether I like anything."

Quote:
(A) of roughly a dozen of them, that consist of several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that tend to switch coteries frequently, and their new pups.

All sorts of weird stuff here. "Them" is a problem: if it refers to the most recent plurals ("coteries" or "colonies"), then it makes no sense. I suppose that it's possible that "them" reaches all the way back to "prairie dogs", but even then, it would be a little bit redundant ("prairie dogs live in colonies of roughly a dozen prairie dogs"). I'm also not crazy about "their new pups," because "their" would seem to refer to "coteries" (which makes no sense) or "males" (which doesn't make too much sense, since the males switch coteries frequently).

If you wanted to be really conservative, I suppose that you could hang onto (A), but there's a lot of crappy stuff here, and we'll have a better option below.

Quote:
(B) of roughly a dozen animals, each with several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that switch coteries frequently, and their new pups.

"Each" seems to refer to "animals", and that makes no sense at all. And "their new pups" is shaky, too, as mentioned above. Eliminate (B).

Quote:
(C) that have roughly a dozen of them, with several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that tend to switch coteries frequently, and the females’ new pups.

"Them" has the same problem as in (A). Again, you could be conservative and keep this one for now if you really wanted to, but I think we can do better.

Quote:
(D) of roughly a dozen, consisting of several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that tend to switch coteries frequently, and the females’ new pups.

And this is better! We could argue that "of roughly a dozen" doesn't sound great, but nobody cares about sound here. There's no pronoun issue whatsoever -- and "the females' new pups" clarifies the end of the sentence, too. Keep (D).

Quote:
(E) with roughly a dozen animals, each coterie includes several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that tend to switch coteries frequently, and the females’ new pups.

I actually think that the first part of the sentence sounds good here, but we should never worry about "sound" on GMAT SC. More importantly: this is a classic comma splice, featuring two full sentences improperly separated by a full comma. So it's wrong, even if we think it sounds nice. Eliminate (E).

That leaves us with (D).


Hi,
I was taught that the Verb-ing modifier after a comma in answer (D) must have the subject of the main clause as a doer to either describe the consequence of the action or further explains the action from the main clause. Hence, this answer (D) should've written without the comma before "consisting" to correctly modify "colonies".
Source: e-gmat
Image
How is this acceptable in this situation?

If you have time please advise. Your help is highly appreciated

Thank you


GMATNinja mikemcgarry DmitryFarber sayantanc2k chetan2u GMATNinjaTwo daagh


As the above person has highlighted the doubt about the modifier verb-ing , I request you to please comment on this.
Even I have the same understanding and need to clear out my doubts once and for all..


The earlier posts say that
"Consisting is modifying colonies"

Now even if we drop "called coteries " and rewrite the sentence :

Prairie dogs live in tight knit colonies that have roughly a dozen, consisting....

Now while solving the question I knew that consisting has to refer back to colonies, but the COMMA before " consisting" threw me off as I've been taught that if verb ING modifier follows a comma , then it either present the result of the he preceding clause or information about the action ( here-"live")

A fellow member said that the forgeries is just a modifier and hence can be dropped but even when we drop it there is still one more comma which is potential error in the sentence as per my learning.
Please comment on this.
I've suffered a great loss due to this rule

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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Oct 2018, 17:30
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Quote:
As the above person has highlighted the doubt about the modifier verb-ing , I request you to please comment on this.
Even I have the same understanding and need to clear out my doubts once and for all..


The earlier posts say that
"Consisting is modifying colonies"

Now even if we drop "called coteries " and rewrite the sentence :

Prairie dogs live in tight knit colonies that have roughly a dozen, consisting....

Now while solving the question I knew that consisting has to refer back to colonies, but the COMMA before " consisting" threw me off as I've been taught that if verb ING modifier follows a comma , then it either present the result of the he preceding clause or information about the action ( here-"live")

A fellow member said that the forgeries is just a modifier and hence can be dropped but even when we drop it there is still one more comma which is potential error in the sentence as per my learning.
Please comment on this.
I've suffered a great loss due to this rule

I feel your pain. What this comes down to is that any "rule" involving commas is going to have exceptions, both because modifiers are so often set off by commas and because commas can be used in unconventional ways to improve the clarity of a sentence.

Take a silly example: "Much to my dismay, I found my child gnawing a hole in a box of dish detergent." Here, "gnawing" modifies "child" and there's no comma, so this is the construction we're accustomed to.

But now imagine that I want to insert another modifier describing where I found my child: "Much to my dismay, I found my child in the linen closet gnawing a hole in a box of dish detergent." At first read, it kind of sounds as though the linen closet is eating the box of detergent! To make it clearer to the reader that this isn't the case, I'd likely include a comma after "closet." An absolute rule? No. But it's a reasonable choice.

It's more or less the same thing in this example. Consider the relevant clause without the comma: "Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly a dozen consisting of several breeding females." We've got the two modifiers in red between "colonies" and "consisting," so in this instance it seems as though "consisting" is referring to the closest noun, "dozen." By including the comma after "dozen," the writer is signaling to the reader that we can't assume "consisting" is modifying "dozen," but rather, that we have a series of modifiers ("called coteries," "of roughly a dozen," and "consisting"), all of which refer back to "colonies." Is this ideal? No. But it also isn't definitively wrong, and the other four answer choices all contain more severe errors.

The big takeaway: no comma rule is absolute, and commas aren't generally a deciding factor on official GMAT questions. And when there is a violation of what seems to be fairly standard comma usage, it's almost certainly because a non-essential modifier has made the sentence more difficult to understand, and the comma is there to create a clearer meaning. If a comma is tripping you up, look for other decision points.

I hope that helps!
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Oct 2018, 19:57
Though I marked this question correct by using POE method, still, I have few doubts.

(D) of roughly a dozen, consisting of several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that tend to switch coteries frequently, and the females’ new pups.

First doubt:
Here, we have used "that" to modify a plural noun. eg. females that, males that..
Before attempting this question, I was told that "that" is used to modify singular noun.

Second doubt:
This sentence seems as below structure.
Clause, consisting of x, y and z. Is it so?

Please help me clear these doubts.
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Oct 2018, 22:30
1
gvij2017 wrote:
Though I marked this question correct by using POE method, still, I have few doubts.

(D) of roughly a dozen, consisting of several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that tend to switch coteries frequently, and the females’ new pups.

First doubt:
Here, we have used "that" to modify a plural noun. eg. females that, males that..
Before attempting this question, I was told that "that" is used to modify singular noun.

Second doubt:
This sentence seems as below structure.
Clause, consisting of x, y and z. Is it so?

Please help me clear these doubts.

If "that" is used as a modifier -- technically a relative pronoun, if you like jargon -- it can absolutely be used to describe a plural noun. For example, "The blood-spattered halloween costumes that my daughter picked out were all entirely inappropriate for a toddler." Here, "that" is correctly modifying "costumes."

If "that" is used as a nice, normal pronoun -- a demonstrative pronoun, if you're into terminology -- it must refer to a singular noun. For a plural noun, we'd use "those." "The costumes my daughter is considering are far more blood-spattered than those of her squeamish peers." Here, "those," a conventional pronoun, refers to "costumes."

For a more in-depth look at the various uses of "that," check out this article.

I hope that helps!
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Oct 2018, 22:58
GMATNinja

Quote:
of roughly a dozen of them, that consist of several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that tend to switch coteries frequently, and their new pups.


Apart from the pronoun errors you mentioned in option A, is the "that" after the first comma correct.
Can this be a decision point.

I personally feel that this "that" is not wrong. Can you please help.
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Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Oct 2018, 11:04
GMATNinja

Please help
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Oct 2018, 09:26
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warrior1991 wrote:
GMATNinja

Quote:
of roughly a dozen of them, that consist of several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that tend to switch coteries frequently, and their new pups.


Apart from the pronoun errors you mentioned in option A, is the "that" after the first comma correct.
Can this be a decision point.

I personally feel that this "that" is not wrong. Can you please help.

Good question! I wouldn't say the "that" is incorrect. It's certainly confusing, as there are multiple modifiers separating "that" from the word it modifies, "colonies." But you could argue that the same confusion applies to "consisting" referring to "colonies" in (D), which we know is correct. So I'd rely on the pronoun problems and the resulting confusion to eliminate (A).

I hope that helps!
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Feb 2019, 09:48
GMATNinja

Hey, I was wondering if another reason to rule out (E) would be because of a subtle meaning change.

(E) seems to imply in the beginning of the sentence that the prairie dogs live in these colonies with other kinds of animals..

Let me know, thanks.

P.S I went through a bunch of SC material, and built a solid foundation; I got to 70% success rate by self study. It's not until I watched your 7 videos on sentence correction and applied the approaches you mentioned that I got my success rate to a consistent 90%. Big big thank you.
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Feb 2019, 14:08
ahabib wrote:
GMATNinja

Hey, I was wondering if another reason to rule out (E) would be because of a subtle meaning change.

(E) seems to imply in the beginning of the sentence that the prairie dogs live in these colonies with other kinds of animals..

Let me know, thanks.

I think that's valid. Just remember that changing the meaning isn't automatically WRONG, exactly. But if an option introduces an unclear or less-logical meaning -- as is the case with (E) -- we can eliminate it from contention. Nicely done!

Notice, also, that (E) contains two independent clauses, "Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies," and "each coterie includes several breeding females." Because there's no conjunction connecting them, we have a run-on sentence here, another good reason to give (E) the boot.

Quote:
P.S I went through a bunch of SC material, and built a solid foundation; I got to 70% success rate by self study. It's not until I watched your 7 videos on sentence correction and applied the approaches you mentioned that I got my success rate to a consistent 90%. Big big thank you.

Thank you for the kind words - glad to hear that those videos have been helpful!
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Jun 2019, 20:58
I'm very confused by the structure of the sentence. Can someone help explain please?

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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Jun 2019, 23:16
Every criticism of B is applicable to D. Think B is wrong because it’s ambiguous and you can’t tell if the pronoun refers to animals or colonies? I’ve got some bad news about D, which doesn’t tell you what the dozen is a dozen of.

Not a good question and not up to GMAT standards, frankly.

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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2019, 06:44
Hi GMATNinja

Thanks for lovely explanation of all choices. I would like to point out one more error in choice (C).
"with several breeding females that often stay together".
Here "with" means Prairie dogs live with several breeding females.......
So meaning is different here. Females.males & pups are subset of Prairie dogs.

Kindly confirm my understanding.
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Nov 2019, 15:00
rahul12988 wrote:
Hi GMATNinja

Thanks for lovely explanation of all choices. I would like to point out one more error in choice (C).
"with several breeding females that often stay together".
Here "with" means Prairie dogs live with several breeding females.......
So meaning is different here. Females.males & pups are subset of Prairie dogs.

Kindly confirm my understanding.
Regards,
Rahul Singh

Yep! The prepositional phrase is problematic, but it's problematic because it creates an illogical meaning, not because it changes the meaning. (If the initial meaning is unclear or illogical, we'd want to change the meaning!)

But you're exactly right about the problem in (C):

    Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies... with several breeding females...

It doesn't make sense to write that the dogs live with breeding females, as this makes it sound as though there are two groups: one consisting of dogs and one consisting of breeding females. It's more logical to write that the breeding females are among the prairie dogs, as you correctly noted.

Nice work!
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Nov 2019, 13:38
GMATNinja wrote:

Quote:
(E) with roughly a dozen animals, each coterie includes several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that tend to switch coteries frequently, and the females’ new pups.

I actually think that the first part of the sentence sounds good here, but we should never worry about "sound" on GMAT SC. More importantly: this is a classic comma splice, featuring two full sentences improperly separated by a full comma. So it's wrong, even if we think it sounds nice. Eliminate (E).

That leaves us with (D).


I don't understand the concept of "comma splice". How do you know the separation is improper?
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Nov 2019, 20:47
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jamalabdullah100 wrote:
GMATNinja wrote:

Quote:
(E) with roughly a dozen animals, each coterie includes several breeding females that often stay together for their entire lives, one or two breeding males that tend to switch coteries frequently, and the females’ new pups.

I actually think that the first part of the sentence sounds good here, but we should never worry about "sound" on GMAT SC. More importantly: this is a classic comma splice, featuring two full sentences improperly separated by a full comma. So it's wrong, even if we think it sounds nice. Eliminate (E).

That leaves us with (D).


I don't understand the concept of "comma splice". How do you know the separation is improper?


Comma splice is joining 2 independent clauses using only comma.
To join 2 independent clause we need conjunction or comma with FANBOYS.

To locate comma splice read the clauses around comma and if both the clauses can stand alone as completely sentence and none of them is dependent on each other then it is case of comma splice.

Hope it helps

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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Nov 2019, 12:23
itoyj wrote:
jamalabdullah100 wrote:
I don't understand the concept of "comma splice". How do you know the separation is improper?


Comma splice is joining 2 independent clauses using only comma.
To join 2 independent clause we need conjunction or comma with FANBOYS.

To locate comma splice read the clauses around comma and if both the clauses can stand alone as completely sentence and none of them is dependent on each other then it is case of comma splice.

Hope it helps

Posted from my mobile device


Thanks for explaining. Where is the comma splice in this sentence?
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Nov 2019, 17:48
jamalabdullah100 wrote:
itoyj wrote:
jamalabdullah100 wrote:
I don't understand the concept of "comma splice". How do you know the separation is improper?


Comma splice is joining 2 independent clauses using only comma.
To join 2 independent clause we need conjunction or comma with FANBOYS.

To locate comma splice read the clauses around comma and if both the clauses can stand alone as completely sentence and none of them is dependent on each other then it is case of comma splice.

Hope it helps

Posted from my mobile device


Thanks for explaining. Where is the comma splice in this sentence?

There are few posts in this thread that clearly explains them.
https://gmatclub.com/forum/prairie-dogs ... l#p1876826
This once specifically points out how.


Hope it helps
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Nov 2019, 19:53
GMATNinja wrote:
rahul12988 wrote:
Hi GMATNinja

Thanks for lovely explanation of all choices. I would like to point out one more error in choice (C).
"with several breeding females that often stay together".
Here "with" means Prairie dogs live with several breeding females.......
So meaning is different here. Females.males & pups are subset of Prairie dogs.

Kindly confirm my understanding.
Regards,
Rahul Singh

Yep! The prepositional phrase is problematic, but it's problematic because it creates an illogical meaning, not because it changes the meaning. (If the initial meaning is unclear or illogical, we'd want to change the meaning!)

But you're exactly right about the problem in (C):

    Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies... with several breeding females...

It doesn't make sense to write that the dogs live with breeding females, as this makes it sound as though there are two groups: one consisting of dogs and one consisting of breeding females. It's more logical to write that the breeding females are among the prairie dogs, as you correctly noted.

Nice work!


Thanks GMATNinja for compliment :)
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly   [#permalink] 08 Nov 2019, 19:53

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