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QOTD: Over the next few years

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QOTD: Over the next few years [#permalink]

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Verbal Question of The Day: Day 125: Sentence Correction


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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,

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[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

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QOTD: Over the next few years [#permalink]

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New post 15 Oct 2017, 14:00
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).
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Re: QOTD: Over the next few years [#permalink]

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New post 15 Oct 2017, 16:31
souvik101990 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,


First glance

The sentence has a comma just before the start of the underline and the answer choices open with which, and, or robbing. Comma which and comma –ing are both Modifier markers. And is a Parallelism marker and can also factor into Sentence Structure.

Issues

(1) Modifier: which

Which is a noun-modifier marker, while comma –ing is an adverbial-modifier marker. Is this part of the sentence referring to a noun or to the main clause (the main subject and verb)?

A change in the saline content, not the mere existence of saline content, would rob oysters of their flavor. One level of saline content does give oysters their flavor; a different level could then rob them of their flavor. Therefore, the modifier should be referring to the full clause: increasing demands could alter the saline content. The comma which construction, a noun-only modifier, is not appropriate to use in this sentence. Eliminate answer (A).

(2) Parallelism / Meaning: X and Y
Parallelism: X, Y, and Z


The original sentence uses and twice. Here is the first instance:

“which would rob the oysters of their flavor and to make them decrease”

The Y element of the X and Y construction is the infinitive verb to make. An infinitive verb must be parallel to another infinitive verb, but, in answer (A), the prior verb is would rob, which is not in the infinitive (the infinitive form would be to rob). No other choices repeat this particular error; eliminate answer (A).

Answers (D) and (E) both have proper parallelism for this element: robbing and making. Answers (B) and (C) both change the sentence structure. The word and is no longer between robbing and making; instead, it has moved earlier in the sentence. Is that okay?

(B) Increasing demands could alter the saline content and it would rob the oysters…

(C) Increasing demands could alter the saline content and rob the oysters…

In choice (B), what is the antecedent for the pronoun it? Increasing demands is plural, so that can’t match with the singular it. Could it refer to saline content? This is tempting, but it’s a trap—the same one that made comma which wrong! The fact that there is saline content is not what robs the oysters of flavor. Rather, the fact that the saline content alters, or changes, robs oysters of their flavor.

Choice (C) removes the pronoun, but the X and Y parallelism now requires that the subject increasing demands apply to rob the oysters of flavor. The increasing demands do not do this; rather, the fact that the saline content changes does. Eliminate choices (B) and (C) for illogical meaning.

Finally, the original sentence finishes off with a 3-item list:

“decrease in size, less distinctive, and less in demand”

The Y and Z elements (less distinctive, less in demand) are not underlined. These two elements are descriptions of what would happen if the oysters lost flavor: the oysters would be less distinctive; the oysters would be less in demand. The first item in the list should be in this same form, but it’s not appropriate to say that the oysters would be decrease in size. Eliminate answers (A), (C), and (E) for making this error.

The Correct Answer

Correct answer (D) employs a comma –ing modifier to refer to the full action: increasing demands could alter the saline content, and this event could cause the oysters to lose their flavor. This choice also correctly makes robbing and making parallel, and provides a parallel list to finish the sentence: the oysters could become smaller, less distinctive, and less in demand.
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Re: QOTD: Over the next few years [#permalink]

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New post 15 Oct 2017, 16:42
souvik101990 wrote:

Verbal Question of The Day: Day 125: Sentence Correction


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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,

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.


Going with D here.

increasing demands alter the saline content of Apalachicola Bay, resulting in oysters loosing the flavor and making them smaller.

Decrease in size is awkward and not parallel to less demand and less distinctive.

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Re: QOTD: Over the next few years   [#permalink] 15 Oct 2017, 16:42
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