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QOTD: Geologists believe that the warning signs

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Verbal Question of The Day: Day 145: Sentence Correction


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Geologists believe that the warning signs for a major earthquake may include sudden fluctuations in local seismic activity, tilting and other deformations of the Earth's crust, changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying the electrical properties of underground rocks.

(A) changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying
(B) changing measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and varying
(C) changing the strain as measured across a fault zone, and variations of
(D) changes in the measured strain across a fault zone, and variations in
(E) changes in measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and variations among

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QOTD: Geologists believe that the warning signs [#permalink]

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This is a gnarly question that operates at the intersection of parallelism and meaning. The basics of parallelism aren’t all that hard, but then the GMAT turns them into a goofy logic puzzle. More on that in our webinar on parallelism and meaning if you haven’t already seen it.

Quote:
(A) changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying

Superficially, the parallelism doesn’t look awful here, but it’s not quite right. The sentence revolves around a list of “warning signs for a major earthquake”, and the non-underlined portion features the first two items in the list (“sudden fluctuations” and “tilting and other deformations”), both of which are nouns.

So we need those last two items in the list to be nouns that are logically parallel to “sudden fluctuations” and “tilting and other deformations.” But I don’t think we actually have nouns in the underlined portion: “changing” and “varying” seem to be structured as modifiers, not nouns.

To be fair, this is tricky as hell: as discussed in our article on “-ing” words, “-ing” words could be modifiers or nouns (also known as gerunds), depending on how they’re used. In this particular case, there’s no clear indication that “changing” and “varying” are nouns. If (A) said “the changing of measured strain” and “the varying of electrical properties”, then you could convince me that these are parallel nouns.

Another way of thinking about this: what, exactly, are the signs of major earthquakes? Is it “changing the measured strain across the fault zone”? That doesn’t really make sense: the phrase suggests that the act of changing the measurement is the “sign of a major earthquake.” In reality, the sign of the earthquake is changes in the strain – not changes to the measurement itself.

So whether you’re thinking about meaning or structure, (A) is wrong. If you wanted to be conservative on your first pass through (never a bad idea!), you could keep (A), but there are better options available.

Quote:
(B) changing measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and varying

(B) is a slightly better version of (A), but it still isn’t quite good enough. Sure, “changing measurements” is clearly a noun now, with “changing” serving as an adjective. But it still incorrectly implies that the measurements are changing, and not the strain itself. And “varying” still looks like a modifier.

So (B) is out.

Quote:
(C) changing the strain as measured across a fault zone, and variations of

(C) is more tempting than (A) or (B), but it’s still not quite right. “Changing the strain” still has the same problem we described in (A): “changing” isn’t necessarily a noun here, and the act of “changing the strain” really isn’t a sign of a major earthquake – it’s much clearer to say that “changes in the strain” are a sign of an earthquake.

So we can probably do better than (C), too.

Quote:
(D) changes in the measured strain across a fault zone, and variations in

Here we go! Now the list consists only of nice, straightforward, unambiguous nouns: “warning signs for a major earthquake include… changes in the measured strain… and variations in the electrical properties of rocks.” Those are nouns, without any doubt.

And just as importantly, they make perfect sense as warning signs for an earthquake. Let’s keep (D).

Quote:
(E) changes in measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and variations among

The differences between (D) and (E) are pretty subtle. (E) gives us a pair of nouns, so it’s structurally parallel – but the meaning doesn’t work anymore. “…changes in measurements of the strain” are NOT signs of an earthquake: if the measurement changes, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the strain itself has changed. For that reason alone, we could ditch (E).

Plus, the phrase “variations among” doesn’t quite work. If we talk about “variations among curry recipes”, we’re saying that different recipes have different characteristics. So “variations among electrical properties of rocks” would suggest that the different electric properties of rocks are… well, different from each other. But that isn’t what we’re trying to say: the point of the sentence is that the electrical properties of individual rocks vary before a major earthquake. So “variations in” is much, much clearer.

Ugh. Having fun yet? (E) is out, and (D) wins.
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Re: QOTD: Geologists believe that the warning signs [#permalink]

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Geologists believe that the warning signs for a major earthquake may include sudden fluctuations in local seismic activity, tilting and other deformations of the Earth's crust, changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying the electrical properties of underground rocks.

Understanding the intended meaning : After reading the sentence its clear that the sentence is talking about the list of warning signs for a major earthquake as believed by the geologists.

At first look, though, I even had a thought whether "tilting" is acting like a VERB-ing modifier and the remaining two -ing forms (changing and varying) are parallel to the tilting. So, I quickly checked the same. The VERB-ing modifiers should make sense with the SUBJECT and VERB of the preceding clause. Here, preceding clause is an essential modifier.

Preceding Clause -- the warning signs for a major earthquake (SUBJECT) may include (VERB) sudden fluctuations in local seismic activity, tilting...
This is for certain that just enumerating signs of something cannot lead to tilting in anything. Though Tilting can be included as a part of this list. Hence, most definitely comma + tilting is NOT meant to be a modifier in this sentence. Then what is this "tilting"?? It is acting as an ACTION NOUN or more technically, Complex Gerund. SO, from here we got that the remaining portions of the underlined part should also be nouns for the list to be parallel. So, need to quickly go through the choices to look for parallelism.

(A) changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying
varying is NOT the noun form. Therefore, it breaks parallelism. ALso, usage of "changes" is better than "changing". When a noun form is available, we prefer not to use the "-ING" form of verbs. Incorrect.

(B) changing measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and varying
varying is NOT the noun form. Therefore, it breaks parallelism. Also, there is a meaning issue with this choice. Changing measurements of the strain is not correct. Changing the measured strain is the intended meaning. ALso, usage of "changes" is better than "changing". When a noun form is available, we prefer not to use the "-ING" form of verbs. Incorrect.

(C) changing the strain as measured across a fault zone, and variations of
changes is better than changing. Also, when a noun form is available, we prefer not to use the "-ING" form of verbs. Variations of is non idiomatic. Therefore, incorrect.

(D) changes in the measured strain across a fault zone, and variations in
CHANGES is a proper noun form, compared to CHANGING. Also, the intended meaning -- changes in the strain is clear. Usage of "Variations in" is idiomatic. Correct.

(E) changes in measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and variations among
Similar issue in meaning as choice B. Also, variations among is NOT idiomatic. Incorrect.

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Re: QOTD: Geologists believe that the warning signs [#permalink]

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New post 30 Oct 2017, 06:36
souvik101990 wrote:
Q for a major earthquake may include sudden fluctuations in local seismic activity, tilting and other deformations of the Earth's crust, changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying the electrical properties of underground rocks.

(A) changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying
(B) changing measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and varying
(C) changing the strain as measured across a fault zone, and variations of
(D) changes in the measured strain across a fault zone, and variations in
(E) changes in measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and variations among


Hi souvik101990

Isn't the question incomplete? "Q" isn't making any sense.

Please check.

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Re: QOTD: Geologists believe that the warning signs [#permalink]

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New post 30 Oct 2017, 06:46
gmatexam439 wrote:
souvik101990 wrote:
Q for a major earthquake may include sudden fluctuations in local seismic activity, tilting and other deformations of the Earth's crust, changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying the electrical properties of underground rocks.

(A) changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying
(B) changing measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and varying
(C) changing the strain as measured across a fault zone, and variations of
(D) changes in the measured strain across a fault zone, and variations in
(E) changes in measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and variations among


Hi souvik101990

Isn't the question incomplete? "Q" isn't making any sense.

Please check.

Regards


Hi gmatexam439,

This is the question stem that I got in the mail for QOTD. You can use the same for answering and yes, the question typed above is missing "Geologists believe that the warning signs" part in the beginning.

Geologists believe that the warning signs for a major earthquake may include sudden fluctuations in local seismic activity, tilting and other deformations of the Earth's crust, changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying the electrical properties of underground rocks.

souvik101990, can you please add this part in the beginning for more clarity.

Thanks.
-Varun

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Re: QOTD: Geologists believe that the warning signs [#permalink]

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New post 30 Oct 2017, 07:28

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Re: QOTD: Geologists believe that the warning signs [#permalink]

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New post 30 Oct 2017, 08:40
aceGMAT21 wrote:
Geologists believe that the warning signs for a major earthquake may include sudden fluctuations in local seismic activity, tilting and other deformations of the Earth's crust, changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying the electrical properties of underground rocks.

Understanding the intended meaning : After reading the sentence its clear that the sentence is talking about the list of warning signs for a major earthquake as believed by the geologists.

At first look, though, I even had a thought whether "tilting" is acting like a VERB-ing modifier and the remaining two -ing forms (changing and varying) are parallel to the tilting. So, I quickly checked the same. The VERB-ing modifiers should make sense with the SUBJECT and VERB of the preceding clause. Here, preceding clause is an essential modifier.

Preceding Clause -- the warning signs for a major earthquake (SUBJECT) may include (VERB) sudden fluctuations in local seismic activity, tilting...
This is for certain that just enumerating signs of something cannot lead to tilting in anything. Though Tilting can be included as a part of this list. Hence, most definitely comma + tilting is NOT meant to be a modifier in this sentence. Then what is this "tilting"?? It is acting as an ACTION NOUN or more technically, Complex Gerund. SO, from here we got that the remaining portions of the underlined part should also be nouns for the list to be parallel. So, need to quickly go through the choices to look for parallelism.

(A) changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying
varying is NOT the noun form. Therefore, it breaks parallelism. ALso, usage of "changes" is better than "changing". When a noun form is available, we prefer not to use the "-ING" form of verbs. Incorrect.

(B) changing measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and varying
varying is NOT the noun form. Therefore, it breaks parallelism. Also, there is a meaning issue with this choice. Changing measurements of the strain is not correct. Changing the measured strain is the intended meaning. ALso, usage of "changes" is better than "changing". When a noun form is available, we prefer not to use the "-ING" form of verbs. Incorrect.

(C) changing the strain as measured across a fault zone, and variations of
changes is better than changing. Also, when a noun form is available, we prefer not to use the "-ING" form of verbs. Variations of is non idiomatic. Therefore, incorrect.

(D) changes in the measured strain across a fault zone, and variations in
CHANGES is a proper noun form, compared to CHANGING. Also, the intended meaning -- changes in the strain is clear. Usage of "Variations in" is idiomatic. Correct.

(E) changes in measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and variations among
Similar issue in meaning as choice B. Also, variations among is NOT idiomatic. Incorrect.




Hello aceGMAT21,

Your meaning-based approach to solve this official question is very thorough. Great job there. Keep it up. :thumbup:


It is true that one mat think that comma + tilting might have been used a comma + verb-ing modifier in this official sentence. However, if just pay attention to the structure of this part of the sentence, we will know that tilting is a noun.

The word tilting in the non-underlined portion is followed and. Presence of and suggests that there is a list in here. What follows and, i.e., the last entity in the list is other deformations, a noun entity. Hence, titling has to be a noun to form a parallel list with other deformations.


Hope this helps. :-)
Thanks.
Shraddha
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Re: QOTD: Geologists believe that the warning signs [#permalink]

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New post 30 Oct 2017, 09:07
egmat wrote:
aceGMAT21 wrote:
Geologists believe that the warning signs for a major earthquake may include sudden fluctuations in local seismic activity, tilting and other deformations of the Earth's crust, changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying the electrical properties of underground rocks.

Understanding the intended meaning : After reading the sentence its clear that the sentence is talking about the list of warning signs for a major earthquake as believed by the geologists.

At first look, though, I even had a thought whether "tilting" is acting like a VERB-ing modifier and the remaining two -ing forms (changing and varying) are parallel to the tilting. So, I quickly checked the same. The VERB-ing modifiers should make sense with the SUBJECT and VERB of the preceding clause. Here, preceding clause is an essential modifier.

Preceding Clause -- the warning signs for a major earthquake (SUBJECT) may include (VERB) sudden fluctuations in local seismic activity, tilting...
This is for certain that just enumerating signs of something cannot lead to tilting in anything. Though Tilting can be included as a part of this list. Hence, most definitely comma + tilting is NOT meant to be a modifier in this sentence. Then what is this "tilting"?? It is acting as an ACTION NOUN or more technically, Complex Gerund. SO, from here we got that the remaining portions of the underlined part should also be nouns for the list to be parallel. So, need to quickly go through the choices to look for parallelism.

(A) changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying
varying is NOT the noun form. Therefore, it breaks parallelism. ALso, usage of "changes" is better than "changing". When a noun form is available, we prefer not to use the "-ING" form of verbs. Incorrect.

(B) changing measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and varying
varying is NOT the noun form. Therefore, it breaks parallelism. Also, there is a meaning issue with this choice. Changing measurements of the strain is not correct. Changing the measured strain is the intended meaning. ALso, usage of "changes" is better than "changing". When a noun form is available, we prefer not to use the "-ING" form of verbs. Incorrect.

(C) changing the strain as measured across a fault zone, and variations of
changes is better than changing. Also, when a noun form is available, we prefer not to use the "-ING" form of verbs. Variations of is non idiomatic. Therefore, incorrect.

(D) changes in the measured strain across a fault zone, and variations in
CHANGES is a proper noun form, compared to CHANGING. Also, the intended meaning -- changes in the strain is clear. Usage of "Variations in" is idiomatic. Correct.

(E) changes in measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and variations among
Similar issue in meaning as choice B. Also, variations among is NOT idiomatic. Incorrect.




Hello aceGMAT21,

Your meaning-based approach to solve this official question is very thorough. Great job there. Keep it up. :thumbup:


It is true that one mat think that comma + tilting might have been used a comma + verb-ing modifier in this official sentence. However, if just pay attention to the structure of this part of the sentence, we will know that tilting is a noun.

The word tilting in the non-underlined portion is followed and. Presence of and suggests that there is a list in here. What follows and, i.e., the last entity in the list is other deformations, a noun entity. Hence, titling has to be a noun to form a parallel list with other deformations.


Hope this helps. :-)
Thanks.
Shraddha


Thanks egmat! :-) I really missed that part! :-)

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Re: QOTD: Geologists believe that the warning signs [#permalink]

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New post 30 Oct 2017, 11:08
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Geologists believe that the warning signs for a major earthquake may include sudden fluctuations in local seismic activity, tilting and other deformations of the Earth's crust, changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying the electrical properties of underground rocks.

A) changing the measured strain across a fault zone and varying
(B) changing measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and varying
(C) changing the strain as measured across a fault zone, and variations of
(D) changes in the measured strain across a fault zone, and variations in
(E) changes in measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and variations among

Notwithstanding what has been given in the non-underlined part, structurally speaking, the ", changing" in A, B and C absurdly imply that the subject of the previous clause namely 'the signs' is the doer of the said actions. Therefore neck them out in one go.
Then it does not take much to dump for the unidiomatic 'variations among'. In addition, choice E changes the intent to say that the measurements have changed rather than the original measured strains.
A nice meaning based question although structure and parallelism play a major role in diagnosing incorrect choices.
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Re: QOTD: Geologists believe that the warning signs [#permalink]

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New post 30 Oct 2017, 14:27
aceGMAT21 wrote:
gmatexam439 wrote:

Hi souvik101990

Isn't the question incomplete? "Q" isn't making any sense.

Please check.

Regards


Hi gmatexam439,

This is the question stem that I got in the mail for QOTD. You can use the same for answering and yes, the question typed above is missing "Geologists believe that the warning signs" part in the beginning.

Geologists believe that the warning signs for a major earthquake may include sudden fluctuations in local seismic activity, tilting and other deformations of the Earth's crust, changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying the electrical properties of underground rocks.

souvik101990, can you please add this part in the beginning for more clarity.

Thanks.
-Varun


Fixed! Thank you for noticing the omission!
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Re: QOTD: Geologists believe that the warning signs [#permalink]

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New post 14 Nov 2017, 23:35
souvik101990 wrote:

Verbal Question of The Day: Day 145: Sentence Correction


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Geologists believe that the warning signs for a major earthquake may include sudden fluctuations in local seismic activity, tilting and other deformations of the Earth's crust, changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying the electrical properties of underground rocks.

(A) changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying
(B) changing measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and varying
(C) changing the strain as measured across a fault zone, and variations of
(D) changes in the measured strain across a fault zone, and variations in
(E) changes in measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and variations among

Every question of the day will be followed by an expert reply by GMATNinja in 12-15 hours. Stay tuned! Post your answers and explanations to earn kudos.



This one got me because I stupidly didn't read E completely and didn't see "among", which renders E incorrect as it is not parallel.

My approach:
5 second scan - reveals split between Changing and changes - confirm parallelism form with non-highlighted portion.
What do we have? fluctuations - tilting (you cant say 'tilts' or anything else so this is still parallel)- changing (is it still changing?)
Adverbial -ing modifier "changing" here is saying that the warning signs are changing. In addition, this -ing modifier is not parallel to the elements in the list. Reduce to changes and eliminate A,B and C.

D and E
D: "changes in X...variations in Y" = parallel form
E: "changes in X" is not parallel with "variations among"

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Re: QOTD: Geologists believe that the warning signs   [#permalink] 14 Nov 2017, 23:35
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