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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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Dear Friends,

Here is a detailed explanation to this question-
souvik101990 wrote:
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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

Concepts tested here: Pronouns + Grammatical Construction

• A pronoun and its derivatives can only refer to one noun or pronoun in a given sentence.
• Semicolons and the “comma + conjunction” construction are used to link two independent clauses; commas are used to link an independent clause with a dependent one; commas cannot be used to join two independent clauses.

A: This answer choice incorrectly uses "them" to refer to "prairie dogs" and uses "their" to refer to "breeding females"; remember, a pronoun and its derivatives can only refer to one noun or pronoun in a given sentence.

B: This answer choice incorrectly uses "their" to refer to both "prairie dogs" and "breeding females"; remember, a pronoun and its derivatives can only refer to one noun or pronoun in a given sentence.

C: This answer choice incorrectly uses "them" to refer to "prairie dogs" and uses "their" to refer to "breeding females"; remember, a pronoun and its derivatives can only refer to one noun or pronoun in a given sentence.

D: Correct. This answer choice correctly uses the pronoun "their" to refer to only one noun - "breeding females". Further, Option D correctly uses a comma to join the independent clause "Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies..." with the dependent clause "consisting of several breeding females...pups".

E: This answer choice incorrectly uses a comma to join the independent clauses "Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies..." and "each coterie includes several breeding females...pups"; remember, semicolons and the “comma + conjunction” construction are used to link two independent clauses; commas are used to link an independent clause with a dependent one; commas cannot be used to join two independent clauses.

Hence, D is the best answer choice.

To understand the use of punctuation on GMAT, you may want to watch the following video (~10 minutes):

All the best!
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly [#permalink]
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souvik101990 wrote:
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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, 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.

Correct answer must be (D), for the highlighted errors in other options...
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly [#permalink]
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souvik101990 wrote:
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.

Spend over 5 mins in this question

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.

(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.
"that" here is ambiguous. Also, "their" here is ambiguous since "their" could refer to "several breeding females" or "one or two breeding males"

(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.
"their" here is ambiguous. "one or two breeding males that switch coteries frequently" changes the original meaning of sentence.

(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.
correct idiom is "colonies of something"

(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.
CORRECT. "consisting of" modifies "tight-knit colonies of roughly a dozen"

(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.
correct idiom is "colonies of something"
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly [#permalink]
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The simple clue is that the pronouns 'their' and 'them' have no eligible logical antecedents. 'Their' could be the animals' pup, or the dogs' pups or the breeding males' pups or breeding females' pups. Similarly, 'them' could refer to the dogs, the colonies, or the coteries. We can easily eliminate choices A, B, and C in a stroke.
The next clue is that E is a run-on. Your answer is D, considering the problems with the usage of 'with' and 'that' in some other choices.

Originally posted by daagh on 13 Jun 2017, 01:46.
Last edited by daagh on 22 Oct 2019, 07:19, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly [#permalink]
daagh wrote:
The simple clue is that the pronouns 'their' and 'them' have no eligible logical antecedents. 'Their' could be the animals' pup, or the dogs' pups or the breeding males' pups or breeding females' pups. Similarly, 'them' could refer to the dogs, the colonies, or the coteries. We can easily eliminate three in a stroke.
The next clue is that E is a run-on. Your answer is D, notwithstanding the problems with the usage 'of', 'with' and 'that' in all other choices.

Hello daagh Sir,

I did not followed your last sentence. E is a run-on...

I see that in underline part "each catorie includes x, y and z" so its a complete sentence isn't it ??

I think I am missing something here ...
Can you please explain ?
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly [#permalink]
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abhimahna wrote:
mihir0710 wrote:
Hello daagh Sir,

I did not followed your last sentence. E is a run-on...

I see that in underline part "each catorie includes x, y and z" so its a complete sentence isn't it ??

I think I am missing something here ...
Can you please explain ?

Hi mihir0710 ,

Here is the explanation of run on for E.

I have two sentences here(marked in different colors below).

Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, 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.

Now, if you look at these two, they are joined together by a comma and no FANBOYS. Hence, this makes them run on.

Let me know in case of any concern.

Hi abhimahna,

Thanks for the clarification.

I thought that "each coterie ...." is an absolute phrase describing the "coteries" in the previous clause and hence it is ok to connect it without a FANBOYS conjunction...

Seems like I will have to look back into my "absolute phrase" concepts !!
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly [#permalink]
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abhimahna wrote:
mihir0710 wrote:
Hello daagh Sir,

I did not followed your last sentence. E is a run-on...

I see that in underline part "each catorie includes x, y and z" so its a complete sentence isn't it ??

I think I am missing something here ...
Can you please explain ?

Hi mihir0710 ,

Here is the explanation of run on for E.

I have two sentences here(marked in different colors below).

Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, 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.

Now, if you look at these two, they are joined together by a comma and no FANBOYS. Hence, this makes them run on.

Let me know in case of any concern.

This is an absolute modifier and not two clauses creating comma splice.

Below question from Exam Pack 1

Naked mole rats form colonies of approximately 20 animals, each colony consisting of a single reproductive female and workers that defend her.
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mihir0710 wrote:

Hi abhimahna,

Thanks for the clarification.

I thought that "each coterie ...." is an absolute phrase describing the "coteries" in the previous clause and hence it is ok to connect it without a FANBOYS conjunction...

Seems like I will have to look back into my "absolute phrase" concepts !!

warriorguy wrote:

This is an absolute modifier and not two clauses creating comma splice.

Below question from Exam Pack 1

Naked mole rats form colonies of approximately 20 animals, each colony consisting of a single reproductive female and workers that defend her.

Looks like you guys have confused absolute phrase with independent clause.

"each colony consisting of a single reproductive female and workers that defend her" --> This is correctly an absolute phrase. We have a noun + Noun Modifier. No verb.

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. --> Notice the word includes. It is a verb. So, subject is each coterie and verb is includes. Hence, it is an independent clause.

My current understanding is absolute phrase should not have a verb and a subject together.

Let me know if you guys think something else.
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly [#permalink]
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abhimahna wrote:
Looks like you guys have confused absolute phrase with independent clause.

"each colony consisting of a single reproductive female and workers that defend her" --> This is correctly an absolute phrase. We have a noun + Noun Modifier. No verb.

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. --> Notice the word includes. It is a verb. So, subject is each coterie and verb is includes. Hence, it is an independent clause.

My current understanding is absolute phrase should not have a verb and a subject together.

I completely agree with abhimahna here. warriorguy, does this answer your question from the chat today? Sorry that I didn't get to it during the session -- I figured that it would be better saved for this spot, but abhimahna beat me to it! In a good way.
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly [#permalink]
GMATNinja Don't you think there is meaning issues with D

that tend to switch coteries frequently, and the females’ new pups.

I understand male dogs switching coteries ( colonies) but the and in between switch coteries frequently AND the females’ new pups means male dogs switch the females' new pups.. How does that make sense though? Not sure what the author is trying to say?How can dogs switch the females new pups
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly [#permalink]
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Turkish wrote:
GMATNinja Don't you think there is meaning issues with D

that tend to switch coteries frequently, and the females’ new pups.

I understand male dogs switching coteries ( colonies) but the and in between switch coteries frequently AND the females’ new pups means male dogs switch the females' new pups.. How does that make sense though? Not sure what the author is trying to say?How can dogs switch the females new pups

I'm not 100% sure that I'm interpreting your question correctly, but I'll give it a shot!

Basically, the idea is that the word "and" indicates a parallel list of three nouns in this case -- and any of the modifiers beginning with the word "that" modify ONLY the preceding noun. So if we highlight just the parallel elements in the sentence, it seems pretty clear: "Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, 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.

That seems OK to me, because it's just saying that the colonies consist of those three types of prairie dogs: several breeding females, one or two breeding males, and the females' new pups. The rest of the stuff just gives us extra information about certain types of prairie dogs (the males frequently switch colonies, but the females don't), and that information does nothing to disrupt the parallel list.

Does that help at all?
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly [#permalink]
What does roughly a dozen modify in option D? Is it the colonies or the dogs?
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techiesam wrote:
What does roughly a dozen modify in option D? Is it the colonies or the dogs?

The phrase "colonies... of roughly a dozen" definitely states that there's a roughly a dozen of something in each colony -- and presumably, "roughly a dozen" means "roughly a dozen prairie dogs."

In all honesty, I would like (D) a little bit better if it said something like "colonies... of roughly a dozen animals", but I'm OK with the idea that the phrase "roughly a dozen" means roughly a dozen prairie dogs. Nothing else could possibly make sense, so the omitted word isn't an absolute error in this case.

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

(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.

HI GMATNinja, mikemcgarry, MagooshExpert

In option D what does consisting (-ing modifier) modifies?

Is it not modifies Subject of preceding clause or does it modify the whole clause?
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Re: Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly [#permalink]
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NandishSS wrote:
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.

(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.

HI GMATNinja, mikemcgarry, MagooshExpert

In option D what does consisting (-ing modifier) modifies?

Is it not modifies Subject of preceding clause or does it modify the whole clause?

Hi NandishSS!

Here, "consisting ..." is simply modifying "colonies", which is just the subject of the clause (not the whole clause). urvashis09 explained this well

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

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.

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.

How is the phrase - one or two.. linked with entire sentence? Is it a noun (one or two breeding males) + noun modifier (that) ?
coma + consisting is correct usage of verb-ing modifier describing how aspect of earlier clause.

Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies, called coteries, of roughly a dozen of them,
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.

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.

When you talked about coma splice, I hope you meant that the clause - each catorie needs to be connector with earlier clause with coma + FANBOYS
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adkikani wrote:
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.

How is the phrase - one or two.. linked with entire sentence? Is it a noun (one or two breeding males) + noun modifier (that) ?
coma + consisting is correct usage of verb-ing modifier describing how aspect of earlier clause.

Nope, that phrase "one or two..." is just part of a parallel list. The coteries consist of three types of prairie dogs (three parallel nouns): "several breeding females..., one or two breeding males..., and the females' new pups."

adkikani 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.

When you talked about coma splice, I hope you meant that the clause - each catorie needs to be connector with earlier clause with coma + FANBOYS

A comma splice happens when two independent clauses are joined by a comma. So in (E), we have: "Prairie dogs live in tight-knit colonies (... modifiers, blah blah...), each coterie includes several breeding females..." Two full, independent clauses, with just a comma separating them. Not cool.

I hope this helps!
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