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# QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived

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QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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28 Feb 2018, 06:00
22
00:00

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85% (hard)

Question Stats:

37% (00:51) correct 63% (01:04) wrong based on 477 sessions

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Verbal Question of The Day: Day 233: Sentence Correction

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The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived a close brush with extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than when the use of DDT was sharply restricted in the early 1970's.

(A) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than

(B) extinction; its numbers are now five times more than

(C) extinction, their numbers now fivefold what they were

(D) extinction, now with fivefold the numbers they had

(E) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than what they were

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Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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01 Mar 2018, 15:51
8
6
I kinda hate this question. And I swear that I’m basically a very happy person.

Quote:
(A) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than

Two things jump out at me right away in (A), and neither of them are a problem. First, the semicolon needs to separate two independent clauses, and it does exactly that. Second, the “its” needs to refer back to a singular noun, and it does exactly that – “its” refers to “the gyrfalcon.”

So I wouldn't eliminate (A) right away. But it is awfully similar to (B), so let’s put them side-by-side:
Quote:
(A) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than
(B) extinction; its numbers are now five times more than

The only difference is that (A) uses the phrase “greater than”, and (B) uses “more than.” In real life, I don’t think that either of these necessarily sounds better than the other, and I probably wouldn't notice if somebody said the incorrect version.

Here’s the thing: if you’re comparing numbers themselves – not quantity in general, but actual numbers – it’s generally better to use “greater than” instead of “more than.” For example, you would read the mathematical expression 20 > 10 as “twenty is greater than ten.”

Or you consider the following two sentences:
• I ate more burritos than Mike last night. → we’re comparing quantities of burritos in general, not the numbers themselves, so “more” is OK
• I ate a greater number of burritos than Mike last night. → now that we’re comparing the numbers, we need to use “greater”
• I ate a more number of burritos than Mike last night. → not remotely tempting to use “more” to compare the numbers themselves in this case, right?

Back to the GMAT question. Since we’re directly and literally comparing the numbers themselves, we need to use “greater than”, and not “more than”.

So we can eliminate (B), and hang onto (A).

Quote:
(C) extinction, their numbers now fivefold what they were

Hopefully, the pronouns jump right off the page at you. “Their” needs to refer to a plural noun, and… well, we don’t have any plurals earlier in the sentence. “The gyrfalcon” is singular.

So (C) is out.

Quote:
(D) extinction, now with fivefold the numbers they had

(D) has a similar problem as (C): there’s some general awkwardness, but the much more important issue is that “they” doesn’t have a logical referent. The only plural noun earlier in the sentence is “the numbers”, and that definitely wouldn’t work: “… now with fivefold the numbers the numbers had…” Yikes. Of course, “they” is logically trying to refer to “the gyrfalcon”, and that’s singular.

So (D) is gone, too.

Quote:
(E) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than what they were

(E) is just a crappier version of (A). The only real difference is that (E) adds the phrase “what they were” to the end of the sentence, and there’s no good reason to do that – it adds nothing to the meaning, and just makes the sentence wordier and messier.

We can eliminate (E), and (A) is the best we can do.
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##### General Discussion
Intern
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Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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01 Mar 2018, 08:40
1
Why is it not E? The comparison is more apropos bc A compares numbers to DDT restriction. E compares numbers now to what they were.

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Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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01 Mar 2018, 08:53
1
1
Why is it not E? The comparison is more apropos bc A compares numbers to DDT restriction. E compares numbers now to what they were.

Posted from my mobile device

E) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than what they were
not an expert but if you see in option E, its (singular possessive pronoun) refers to gyrfalcon, but they(colored red) don't have a clear antecedent.
Correct me if I am wrong.
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Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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01 Mar 2018, 09:00
1
arun6765 wrote:
Why is it not E? The comparison is more apropos bc A compares numbers to DDT restriction. E compares numbers now to what they were.

Posted from my mobile device

E) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than what they were
not an expert but if you see in option E, its (singular possessive pronoun) refers to gyrfalcon, but they(colored red) don't have a clear antecedent.
Correct me if I am wrong.

In option E "They" refers to "numbers" only one plural antecedent is present
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Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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01 Mar 2018, 09:02
Why is it not E? The comparison is more apropos bc A compares numbers to DDT restriction. E compares numbers now to what they were.

Posted from my mobile device

I'm of the same opinion. I'm not sure how A is superior to E.
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Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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01 Mar 2018, 10:44
1
1
The options are:
(A) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than
(B) extinction; its numbers are now five times more than
(C) extinction, their numbers now fivefold what they were
(D) extinction, now with fivefold the numbers they had
(E) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than what they were

Let's do POE first.
(C) and (D) are out because the pronouns 'their' and 'they' are both incorrect since 'The gyrfalcon' is singular.

Now between (A) and (B), (B) is incorrect because of 'more'.
General note:
'More' is used to modify the thing being counted. eg. I have more books than you
'Greater' is used to modify the value of the thing being counted. eg. The number of books I have is greater than the number of books you have.
Here we are comparing the number of Gyrfalcon, which is a value and hence 'greater' should be used.

So now we are left with (A) and (E).

Both seems correct gramatically. But since I can choose only 1 option, I'll go with (A) because it is more concise and the GMAT folks seems to like concise answers.

Can't see any other reason to eliminate (E)
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Posts: 16
Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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01 Mar 2018, 12:24
nishantd88 wrote:
The options are:
(A) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than
(B) extinction; its numbers are now five times more than
(C) extinction, their numbers now fivefold what they were
(D) extinction, now with fivefold the numbers they had
(E) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than what they were

Let's do POE first.
(C) and (D) are out because the pronouns 'their' and 'they' are both incorrect since 'The gyrfalcon' is singular.

Now between (A) and (B), (B) is incorrect because of 'more'.
General note:
'More' is used to modify the thing being counted. eg. I have more books than you
'Greater' is used to modify the value of the thing being counted. eg. The number of books I have is greater than the number of books you have.
Here we are comparing the number of Gyrfalcon, which is a value and hence 'greater' should be used.

So now we are left with (A) and (E).

Both seems correct gramatically. But since I can choose only 1 option, I'll go with (A) because it is more concise and the GMAT folks seems to like concise answers.

Can't see any other reason to eliminate (E)

Thank you Nishantd88, but I am positing that A is incorrect (not just more concise). A has an incorrect parallelism issue. It would have to read: "extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than they were.... Otherwise, it incorrectly compares "its numbers" with "when the use of DDT was sharply restricted." Would love souvik101990 to weigh in with the source of this Q and reasoning behind OA. I always find it strange when the data reveals overwhelming support for a "wrong" answer (49% chose E vs. 34% for A).
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Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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01 Mar 2018, 12:25
IMO E..it does comparison properly..."it's numbers" are greater...so after than, some similar type should be there..what they were is better...and also plural "they were" is ok as " numbers " are also plural

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Intern
Joined: 14 Nov 2012
Posts: 10
Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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01 Mar 2018, 21:20
I think this question falls under comparison. 'Greater than' is used to compare two different quantities. 'More than' is used to compare same quantity over different period of time. So IMO 'B' is the right choice.

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Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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02 Mar 2018, 08:38
GMATNinja wrote:
I kinda hate this question. And I swear that I’m basically a very happy person.

Quote:
(A) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than

Two things jump out at me right away in (A), and neither of them are a problem. First, the semicolon needs to separate two independent clauses, and it does exactly that. Second, the “its” needs to refer back to a singular noun, and it does exactly that – “its” refers to “the gyrfalcon.”

So I wouldn't eliminate (A) right away. But it is awfully similar to (B), so let’s put them side-by-side:
Quote:
(A) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than
(B) extinction; its numbers are now five times more than

The only difference is that (A) uses the phrase “greater than”, and (B) uses “more than.” In real life, I don’t think that either of these necessarily sounds better than the other, and I probably wouldn't notice if somebody said the incorrect version.

Here’s the thing: if you’re comparing numbers themselves – not quantity in general, but actual numbers – it’s generally better to use “greater than” instead of “more than.” For example, you would read the mathematical expression 20 > 10 as “twenty is greater than ten.”

Or you consider the following two sentences:
• I ate more burritos than Mike last night. → we’re comparing quantities of burritos in general, not the numbers themselves, so “more” is OK
• I ate a greater number of burritos than Mike last night. → now that we’re comparing the numbers, we need to use “greater”
• I ate a more number of burritos than Mike last night. → not remotely tempting to use “more” to compare the numbers themselves in this case, right?

Back to the GMAT question. Since we’re directly and literally comparing the numbers themselves, we need to use “greater than”, and not “more than”.

So we can eliminate (B), and hang onto (A).

Quote:
(C) extinction, their numbers now fivefold what they were

Hopefully, the pronouns jump right off the page at you. “Their” needs to refer to a plural noun, and… well, we don’t have any plurals earlier in the sentence. “The gyrfalcon” is singular.

So (C) is out.

Quote:
(D) extinction, now with fivefold the numbers they had

(D) has a similar problem as (C): there’s some general awkwardness, but the much more important issue is that “they” doesn’t have a logical referent. The only plural noun earlier in the sentence is “the numbers”, and that definitely wouldn’t work: “… now with fivefold the numbers the numbers had…” Yikes. Of course, “they” is logically trying to refer to “the gyrfalcon”, and that’s singular.

So (D) is gone, too.

Quote:
(E) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than what they were

(E) is just a crappier version of (A). The only real difference is that (E) adds the phrase “what they were” to the end of the sentence, and there’s no good reason to do that – it adds nothing to the meaning, and just makes the sentence wordier and messier.

We can eliminate (E), and (A) is the best we can do.

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Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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02 Mar 2018, 09:55
GMATNinja wrote:
I kinda hate this question. And I swear that I’m basically a very happy person.

Quote:
(A) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than

Two things jump out at me right away in (A), and neither of them are a problem. First, the semicolon needs to separate two independent clauses, and it does exactly that. Second, the “its” needs to refer back to a singular noun, and it does exactly that – “its” refers to “the gyrfalcon.”

So I wouldn't eliminate (A) right away. But it is awfully similar to (B), so let’s put them side-by-side:
Quote:
(A) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than
(B) extinction; its numbers are now five times more than

The only difference is that (A) uses the phrase “greater than”, and (B) uses “more than.” In real life, I don’t think that either of these necessarily sounds better than the other, and I probably wouldn't notice if somebody said the incorrect version.

Here’s the thing: if you’re comparing numbers themselves – not quantity in general, but actual numbers – it’s generally better to use “greater than” instead of “more than.” For example, you would read the mathematical expression 20 > 10 as “twenty is greater than ten.”

Or you consider the following two sentences:
• I ate more burritos than Mike last night. → we’re comparing quantities of burritos in general, not the numbers themselves, so “more” is OK
• I ate a greater number of burritos than Mike last night. → now that we’re comparing the numbers, we need to use “greater”
• I ate a more number of burritos than Mike last night. → not remotely tempting to use “more” to compare the numbers themselves in this case, right?

Back to the GMAT question. Since we’re directly and literally comparing the numbers themselves, we need to use “greater than”, and not “more than”.

So we can eliminate (B), and hang onto (A).

Quote:
(C) extinction, their numbers now fivefold what they were

Hopefully, the pronouns jump right off the page at you. “Their” needs to refer to a plural noun, and… well, we don’t have any plurals earlier in the sentence. “The gyrfalcon” is singular.

So (C) is out.

Quote:
(D) extinction, now with fivefold the numbers they had

(D) has a similar problem as (C): there’s some general awkwardness, but the much more important issue is that “they” doesn’t have a logical referent. The only plural noun earlier in the sentence is “the numbers”, and that definitely wouldn’t work: “… now with fivefold the numbers the numbers had…” Yikes. Of course, “they” is logically trying to refer to “the gyrfalcon”, and that’s singular.

So (D) is gone, too.

Quote:
(E) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than what they were

(E) is just a crappier version of (A). The only real difference is that (E) adds the phrase “what they were” to the end of the sentence, and there’s no good reason to do that – it adds nothing to the meaning, and just makes the sentence wordier and messier.

We can eliminate (E), and (A) is the best we can do.

Sir,Thank You for the reply. But, I am still not able to understand how A is not incorrect because in A "greater than" is used which is term generally used in comparison and "Greater than" should precede the subject that is being compared here which is "numbers"??
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Posts: 16
Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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02 Mar 2018, 12:46
GMATNinja wrote:
I kinda hate this question. And I swear that I’m basically a very happy person.

Quote:
(A) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than

Two things jump out at me right away in (A), and neither of them are a problem. First, the semicolon needs to separate two independent clauses, and it does exactly that. Second, the “its” needs to refer back to a singular noun, and it does exactly that – “its” refers to “the gyrfalcon.”

So I wouldn't eliminate (A) right away. But it is awfully similar to (B), so let’s put them side-by-side:
Quote:
(A) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than
(B) extinction; its numbers are now five times more than

The only difference is that (A) uses the phrase “greater than”, and (B) uses “more than.” In real life, I don’t think that either of these necessarily sounds better than the other, and I probably wouldn't notice if somebody said the incorrect version.

Here’s the thing: if you’re comparing numbers themselves – not quantity in general, but actual numbers – it’s generally better to use “greater than” instead of “more than.” For example, you would read the mathematical expression 20 > 10 as “twenty is greater than ten.”

Or you consider the following two sentences:
• I ate more burritos than Mike last night. → we’re comparing quantities of burritos in general, not the numbers themselves, so “more” is OK
• I ate a greater number of burritos than Mike last night. → now that we’re comparing the numbers, we need to use “greater”
• I ate a more number of burritos than Mike last night. → not remotely tempting to use “more” to compare the numbers themselves in this case, right?

Back to the GMAT question. Since we’re directly and literally comparing the numbers themselves, we need to use “greater than”, and not “more than”.

So we can eliminate (B), and hang onto (A).

Quote:
(C) extinction, their numbers now fivefold what they were

Hopefully, the pronouns jump right off the page at you. “Their” needs to refer to a plural noun, and… well, we don’t have any plurals earlier in the sentence. “The gyrfalcon” is singular.

So (C) is out.

Quote:
(D) extinction, now with fivefold the numbers they had

(D) has a similar problem as (C): there’s some general awkwardness, but the much more important issue is that “they” doesn’t have a logical referent. The only plural noun earlier in the sentence is “the numbers”, and that definitely wouldn’t work: “… now with fivefold the numbers the numbers had…” Yikes. Of course, “they” is logically trying to refer to “the gyrfalcon”, and that’s singular.

So (D) is gone, too.

Quote:
(E) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than what they were

(E) is just a crappier version of (A). The only real difference is that (E) adds the phrase “what they were” to the end of the sentence, and there’s no good reason to do that – it adds nothing to the meaning, and just makes the sentence wordier and messier.

We can eliminate (E), and (A) is the best we can do.

Thank you GMATNinja, but I am positing that A is incorrect (not just more concise). A has an incorrect parallelism issue. It would have to read: "extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than they were.... Otherwise, it incorrectly compares "its numbers" with "when the use of DDT was sharply restricted." Am I reading this incorrectly? Would love souvik101990 to weigh in with the source of this Q and reasoning behind OA. I always find it strange when the data reveals overwhelming support for a "wrong" answer (49% chose E vs. 34% for A).
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Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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03 Mar 2018, 12:55
11
Thank you GMATNinja, but I am positing that A is incorrect (not just more concise). A has an incorrect parallelism issue. It would have to read: "extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than they were.... Otherwise, it incorrectly compares "its numbers" with "when the use of DDT was sharply restricted." Am I reading this incorrectly? Would love souvik101990 to weigh in with the source of this Q and reasoning behind OA. I always find it strange when the data reveals overwhelming support for a "wrong" answer (49% chose E vs. 34% for A).

Sadly, (A) is unambiguously the correct answer. It's an official question, straight from the official GMAT verbal guide. And keep in mind that when you take an actual, adaptive GMAT, the test is trying to find the level of question at which you get roughly half of the questions right -- so if this is a 700-level question, we'd expect close to half of the test-takers who get 700s to get it wrong. And in a broader population, we might expect much more than half to miss a really hard question, unfortunately.

Anyway, here are (A) and (E) again:

Quote:
The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived a close brush with extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than when the use of DDT was sharply restricted in the early 1970's.

(A) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than
(E) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than what they were

Let me come at (E) from a different direction this time. Sorry friends, I was a little bit lazy above in basically saying "hey, you really don't need the extra words" in (E). But there's a more technical problem: "what" is trying to act as some sort of pronoun in (E), and I don't think that works. "What" can occasionally be used as a pronoun in a non-question (technically, a relative pronoun if you like jargon), but when it is used as a pronoun, it basically is a singular phrase that means "the things that." So these two sentences would be OK:

• "What I did after drinking 17 beers last night was regrettable." --> In other words, "the things that I did last night [were] regrettable." Grammatically, that works fine.
• "Mike couldn't believe what he saw on the beach in Chile." --> Mike couldn't believe "the things that he saw" on the beach. That also works fine.

But in (E)? We have "its numbers are now five times greater than the things that they were when the use of DDT was sharply restricted in the early 1970's." And that doesn't quite make sense.

Honestly, I agree with the heart of what some of you are arguing here. If the sentence said "it's numbers are now five times greater than they were when the use of DDT was sharply restricted...", then I'd be happier. That would set up the comparison nicely. But that's not one of our options, and the word "what" turns (E) into a mess.

In (A), the key is that the comparison isn't fundamentally illogical or confusing -- even though I agree that it would be clearer if "they were" were added. We're directly comparing the numbers in two different time periods: "its numbers are now five times greater than when the use of DDT was sharply restricted in the early 1970's." Logically, that actually makes perfect sense, and the GMAT would argue that there's no need to repeat "they were," because it's clear enough (at least in the GMAT's view) that we're comparing those two time periods. And adding the phrase "what they were" would definitely be wrong in (E), for the reasons I explained above.

To be fair: this one is tricky, and I can't really understand why the GMAT thinks it's important to test these concepts. But (A) is unambiguously correct, sadly.

I hope this helps!
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SC & CR Questions of the Day (QOTDs), featuring expert explanations
All QOTDs | Subscribe via email | RSS

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Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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03 Mar 2018, 13:45
The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived a close brush with extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than when the use of DDT was sharply restricted in the early 1970's.

(A) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than --Correct

(B) extinction; its numbers are now five times more than --invalid comparison marker; we need greater than

(C) extinction, their numbers now fivefold what they were --SV disagreement

(D) extinction, now with fivefold the numbers they had --SV Disagreement

(E) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than what they were --what is wrongly used (no referent)
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Joined: 14 Sep 2017
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Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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03 Mar 2018, 19:16
GMATNinja wrote:
Thank you GMATNinja, but I am positing that A is incorrect (not just more concise). A has an incorrect parallelism issue. It would have to read: "extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than they were.... Otherwise, it incorrectly compares "its numbers" with "when the use of DDT was sharply restricted." Am I reading this incorrectly? Would love souvik101990 to weigh in with the source of this Q and reasoning behind OA. I always find it strange when the data reveals overwhelming support for a "wrong" answer (49% chose E vs. 34% for A).

Sadly, (A) is unambiguously the correct answer. It's an official question, straight from the official GMAT verbal guide. And keep in mind that when you take an actual, adaptive GMAT, the test is trying to find the level of question at which you get roughly half of the questions right -- so if this is a 700-level question, we'd expect close to half of the test-takers who get 700s to get it wrong. And in a broader population, we might expect much more than half to miss a really hard question, unfortunately.

Anyway, here are (A) and (E) again:

Quote:
The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived a close brush with extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than when the use of DDT was sharply restricted in the early 1970's.

(A) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than
(E) extinction; its numbers are now five times greater than what they were

Let me come at (E) from a different direction this time. Sorry friends, I was a little bit lazy above in basically saying "hey, you really don't need the extra words" in (E). But there's a more technical problem: "what" is trying to act as some sort of pronoun in (E), and I don't think that works. "What" can occasionally be used as a pronoun in a non-question (technically, a relative pronoun if you like jargon), but when it is used as a pronoun, it basically is a singular phrase that means "the things that." So these two sentences would be OK:

• "What I did after drinking 17 beers last night was regrettable." --> In other words, "the things that I did last night [were] regrettable." Grammatically, that works fine.
• "Mike couldn't believe what he saw on the beach in Chile." --> Mike couldn't believe "the things that he saw" on the beach. That also works fine.

But in (E)? We have "its numbers are now five times greater than the things that they were when the use of DDT was sharply restricted in the early 1970's." And that doesn't quite make sense.

Honestly, I agree with the heart of what some of you are arguing here. If the sentence said "it's numbers are now five times greater than they were when the use of DDT was sharply restricted...", then I'd be happier. That would set up the comparison nicely. But that's not one of our options, and the word "what" turns (E) into a mess.

In (A), the key is that the comparison isn't fundamentally illogical or confusing -- even though I agree that it would be clearer if "they were" were added. We're directly comparing the numbers in two different time periods: "its numbers are now five times greater than when the use of DDT was sharply restricted in the early 1970's." Logically, that actually makes perfect sense, and the GMAT would argue that there's no need to repeat "they were," because it's clear enough (at least in the GMAT's view) that we're comparing those two time periods. And adding the phrase "what they were" would definitely be wrong in (E), for the reasons I explained above.

To be fair: this one is tricky, and I can't really understand why the GMAT thinks it's important to test these concepts. But (A) is unambiguously correct, sadly.

I hope this helps!

Definitely does! Thank you.
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Joined: 03 Mar 2018
Posts: 182
Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived [#permalink]

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22 Mar 2018, 05:59
Discussed here
https://gmatclub.com/forum/the-gyrfalco ... 34552.html
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Re: QOTD: The gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird of prey, has survived   [#permalink] 22 Mar 2018, 05:59
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