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The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers

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The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jun 2018, 00:24
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The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them.

(A) advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them

(B) who were advocating prisoners to be held in solitary confinement and hard labor for their reform

(C) advocating solitary confinement and hard labor as the means to reform prisoners

(D) who advocated solitary confinement and hard labor for the means of prisoner reform

(E) advocating as the means for prisoner reform solitary confinement and hard labor

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The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 12 Jul 2018, 15:30
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Hello Everyone!

Let’s tackle this question, one answer at a time, to locate any potential problems.

The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them.

(A) advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them
(B) who were advocating prisoners to be held in solitary confinement and hard labor for their reform
(C) advocating solitary confinement and hard labor as the means to reform prisoners
(D) who advocated solitary confinement and hard labor for the means of prisoner reform
(E) advocating as the means for prisoner reform solitary confinement and hard labor

After a quick glance over the question, it’s clear that each option is vastly different from the other. This is a sign that we are dealing with an issue of clarity. Whenever we deal with clarity, we must focus on a few issues to help eliminate wrong answers quickly:

1. Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
2. Misplaced Modifiers
3. Overly wordy phrases

Let’s start with pronoun-antecedent agreement. Only options A and B use pronouns, so let’s check those first:

(A) advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them
This is INCORRECT because it uses a vague pronoun! It’s unclear in the sentence if the pronoun “them” is referring to the prisoners reforming themselves, or if the prisoners are reforming the reformers.

(B) who were advocating prisoners to be held in solitary confinement and hard labor for their reform
This option is also INCORRECT because it’s not clear if “their” is referring to the prisoners or the reformers.

So that means we can knock options A and B out of the running. This leaves us with C, D, and E. Let’s look at each one to see if they have problems with either misplaced modifiers or wordiness:

(C) advocating solitary confinement and hard labor as the means to reform prisoners
This is CORRECT! It doesn’t have any issues with pronouns, modifiers, or wordiness. This is clear and concise, which is what the GMAT is looking for!

(D) who advocated solitary confinement and hard labor for the means of prisoner reform

This is INCORRECT because it’s vague and a bit wordy. It says that the reformers want solitary confinement and hard labor, but they don’t say WHO they think should be doing it! Is this something the prisoners will do or the reformers? It’s also a bit clunky to say “for the means of,” when you could easily simplify it to “for.”

(E) advocating as the means for prisoner reform solitary confinement and hard labor

This is INCORRECT because it contains a misplaced modifier! The phrase “as the means for prisoner reform” should go after “solitary confinement and hard labor.” You could place it here if you really wanted to, but you would need to put commas before and after the phrase so it’s clear this is a non-essential modifier.

There you have it! Option C is the correct answer!


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Originally posted by EMPOWERgmatVerbal on 26 Jun 2018, 08:57.
Last edited by EMPOWERgmatVerbal on 12 Jul 2018, 15:30, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jun 2018, 04:45
The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them.

A. advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them

B. who were advocating prisoners to be held in solitary confinement and hard labor for their reform

C. advocating solitary confinement and hard labor as the means to reform prisoners - Correct

D. who advocated solitary confinement and hard labor for the means of prisoner reform

E. advocating as the means for prisoner reform solitary confinement and hard labor[/quote]

C is more clear in meaning than D.

Answer C.

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Re: The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jun 2018, 05:21
The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them.

A. advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them wordy

B. who were advocating prisoners to be held in solitary confinement and hard labor for their reform

C. advocating solitary confinement and hard labor as the means to reform prisoners - Short and coincise

D. who advocated solitary confinement and hard labor for the means of prisoner reform

E. advocating as the means for prisoner reform solitary confinement and hard labor
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The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jun 2018, 10:03
The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them.

(A) advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them
held in solitary confinement and held in hard labor. It is illogical to say.

(B) who were advocating prisoners to be held in solitary confinement and hard labor for their reform
same error as in A

(C) advocating solitary confinement and hard labor as the means to reform prisoners
solitary confinement and hard labor is parallel.
as the means to reform prisoners . Logically correct use.


(D) who advocated solitary confinement and hard labor for the means of prisoner reform
I feel "for the means of prisoner reform" is incorrect.

(E) advocating as the means for prisoner reform solitary confinement and hard labor.
It changes the meaning . Incorrect.

IMO - C
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Re: The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jun 2018, 10:12
(C) advocating solitary confinement and hard labor as the means to reform prisoners

I was a bit confused bw c and d but d was awkward as the expression for the means is incorrect
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Re: The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jun 2018, 20:26
i think this is about idiom
advocate as somthing... is not idiomatic
for the means of .... is idiomatic
advocate somebody to do, is not idomatic
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Re: The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Jun 2018, 01:19
Isn't the "who" needed after the word "reformers"? Can someone please explain ?
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Re: The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jun 2018, 01:13
(A) advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them: PARALLELISM ERROR. THAT CLAUSE CANNOT BE PARALLEL TO VERB PHRASE.

(B) who were advocating prisoners to be held in solitary confinement and hard labor for their reform:
MEANING ERROR- 'REFORMERS WHO WERE ADVOCATING PRISONERS'

(C) advocating solitary confinement and hard labor as the means to reform prisoners: CORRECT

(D) who advocated solitary confinement and hard labor for the means of prisoner reform: IDIOM ERROR 'FOR THE MEANS OF'

(E) advocating as the means for prisoner reform solitary confinement and hard labor: IDIOM ERROR 'AS THE MEANS FOR'.
IDIOM CAN BE EITHER 'AS A MEANS TO' OR 'AS A MEANS OF'.

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Re: The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jul 2018, 13:50
EMPOWERgmatVerbal wrote:

(E) advocating as the means for prisoner reform solitary confinement and hard labor

This is INCORRECT because it contains a misplaced modifier! The phrase “as the means for prisoner reform” should go after “solitary confinement and hard labor.” You could place it here if you really wanted to, but you would need to put commas before and after the phrase so it’s clear this is a non-essential modifier.

There you have it! Option C is the correct answer!


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Although I do agree that E is wrong, I don't agree with your statement about misplaced modifier. Here is the GMAT example in which idiom Cite X as Y has been changed to Cite as Y X in OA. https://gmatclub.com/forum/the-151-memb ... 11361.html . Hence E is wrong because of incorrect idiom 'means for'
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Re: The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Aug 2018, 09:12
What exactly makes A wrong?
Is it the pronoun ambiguity, the un-parallelism or both ?
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Re: The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Aug 2018, 10:10
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Setback wrote:
What exactly makes A wrong?
Is it the pronoun ambiguity, the un-parallelism or both ?


The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them.

(A) advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them

Firstly, pronoun error. "Them" is an ambigious pronoun, may refer to reformers or prisoners.
Secondly, meaning. So as to conveys a different meaning altogether.

Hope you get it now.

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Re: The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Sep 2018, 16:14
Guys, i really have a problem distinguishing between when to use verb in tense form or in gerund form. like in this situation "advocating" vs "who advocated" , I've seen somewhere that GMAT doesn't like gerunds, and i kept that as a rule of thumb.

Can someone please explain to me the difference. Or should i just ignore it, and look for other parts in the sentence to filter incorrect answers ?
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The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Oct 2018, 00:38
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The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them.

(A) advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them

(B) who were advocating prisoners to be held in solitary confinement and hard labor for their reform

(C) advocating solitary confinement and hard labor as the means to reform prisoners

(D) who advocated solitary confinement and hard labor for the means of prisoner reform

(E) advocating as the means for prisoner reform solitary confinement and hard labor

Hey Setback TheNotorious Aadhitthyaa

First thing -
Is the verb-ing modifier "advocating that..." after reformers correct?
It has no COMMA after reformers. So it is modifying the noun "reformers".
Who is advocating that prisoners be held? - reformers
It does make sense to modify reformers. So this part is correct.

Next -
I see "them". Hmm. Not sure if it refers to reformers or prisoners. So there is some ambiguity here.

Lets see the options now -
(B) who were advocating prisoners to be held in solitary confinement and hard labor for their reform
(C) advocating solitary confinement and hard labor as the means to reform prisoners. Aha! No ambiguity. Precise and not wordy just the way G-mat loves it.
(D) who advocated solitary confinement and hard labor for the means of prisoner reform. Hmm. Wait a second. Who? Now im confused as to who will be doing it. The prisoners or the reformers?
(E) advocating as the means for prisoner reform solitary confinement and hard labor. Here again it is not sure as to who will be doing it. Also, it seems like advocating it is the means for prisoner reform. The confinement and the labor is the means for prisoner reform.

Hope it helps. :)
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The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Nov 2018, 00:32
I eliminated as follows:

Illogical Meaning error: "be held in solitary confinement and hard labour" - it is illogical to be held in hard labour
Eliminate (A) and (B)

Note also that the pronouns "them" and "their" in (a) and (b), respectively, can gramatically refer to either "reformers" or "prisoners" but logically these pronouns can only refer to prisoners.

Idiom error: "for the means" is unidiomatic. Correct idiom is "as a means of"
Eliminate (D)

Awkward construction and illogical meaning: "advocating..reform solitary confinement and hard labour"
Minus the prepositional "as" filler, what i wrote in the above line is word-for-word as you see it. This makes no sense at all

Eliminate (E)
You could also argue that (E) is unidiomatic: "as the means for" instead of "as a means of" but I'm pretty sure both have grounds to be acceptable in the right context.

(c) is correct.
Corrects meaning errors, is parallel and clears ambiguity
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Re: The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Nov 2018, 04:01
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The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them.

(A) advocating that prisoners be held in solitary confinement and hard labor so as to reform them-- advocating is not a subjunctive factor


(B) who were advocating prisoners to be held in solitary confinement and hard labor for their reform --- advocating prisoners is distortion of meaning.

(C) advocating solitary confinement and hard labor as the means to reform prisoners -- correct choice .
(D) who advocated solitary confinement and hard labor for the means of prisoner reform --- for the means of is unidiomatic - as the means of correct.
(E) advocating as the means for prisoner reform solitary confinement and hard labor--- 'as the means for' prisoner reform is unidiomatic -- should 'as the means of'
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Re: The Eastern State Penitentiary was established in 1822 by reformers &nbs [#permalink] 23 Nov 2018, 04:01
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