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# The tricky "than that in" comparison w/ example

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Intern
Joined: 29 Oct 2017
Posts: 9
The tricky "than that in" comparison w/ example  [#permalink]

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06 Nov 2017, 00:25
Hello GmatClub,

Whenever I see a comparison type SC question, I was quick to narrow into the "than that in/of" answer. However, I'm starting to realize that it isn't as straightforward as that. May I stir discussion on this type of question.

Consider:

a. My exam performance was better in 2010 than 2011. Clearly wrong.
b. My exam performance was better in 2010 than in 2011. Seems right.
c. My exam performance was better in 2010 than that in 2011. Seems right too.

Explanation: The "that" in c is implied in b and can be left out.

Now things get trickier if we're mixing tenses.

e. My exam performance is better now than it was in 2011. It refers to exam performance, we're good.
f. My exam performance is better now than that in 2011. Wrong because the parallelism in e is missing.
g. My exam performance is better now than in 2011. What you guys think?

Explanation: Because we are comparing now and 2011, we have to introduce the tense is / was. Because of this, we can't imply the pronoun like we did in b. I'm on the fence for g.

Lastly, let's wrap up with an actual GMAT example, which stumped me, and focus on the two near correct answers.

In 1979 lack of rain reduced India's rice production to about 41 million tons, nearly 25 percent less than those of the 1978 harvest.
(A) less than those of the 1978 harvest
(B) less than the 1978 harvest

Answer is B. For me, the hard part of eliminating A is when I refer "those" to "rice production". I know I can't do that because those is plural and production is singular. Correct? Things get really dicey if A instead read "than that in". So the answer will read:

In 1979 lack of rain reduced India's rice production to about 41 million tons, nearly 25 percent less than that (= India's rice production) in the 1978 harvest.

Looks correct to me.

As for B, is it okay to read the "harvest" in "nearly 25 percent less than the 1978 harvest" as "rice production"? Doing so convinces me that B is the correct answer.

Sincerely Yours,
Donny
Magoosh GMAT Instructor
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 4665
Re: The tricky "than that in" comparison w/ example  [#permalink]

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06 Nov 2017, 17:47
1
donnylee wrote:
Hello GmatClub,

Whenever I see a comparison type SC question, I was quick to narrow into the "than that in/of" answer. However, I'm starting to realize that it isn't as straightforward as that. May I stir discussion on this type of question.

Consider:

a. My exam performance was better in 2010 than 2011. Clearly wrong.
b. My exam performance was better in 2010 than in 2011. Seems right.
c. My exam performance was better in 2010 than that in 2011. Seems right too.

Explanation: The "that" in c is implied in b and can be left out.

Now things get trickier if we're mixing tenses.

e. My exam performance is better now than it was in 2011. It refers to exam performance, we're good.
f. My exam performance is better now than that in 2011. Wrong because the parallelism in e is missing.
g. My exam performance is better now than in 2011. What you guys think?

Explanation: Because we are comparing now and 2011, we have to introduce the tense is / was. Because of this, we can't imply the pronoun like we did in b. I'm on the fence for g.

Lastly, let's wrap up with an actual GMAT example, which stumped me, and focus on the two near correct answers.

In 1979 lack of rain reduced India's rice production to about 41 million tons, nearly 25 percent less than those of the 1978 harvest.
(A) less than those of the 1978 harvest
(B) less than the 1978 harvest

Answer is B. For me, the hard part of eliminating A is when I refer "those" to "rice production". I know I can't do that because those is plural and production is singular. Correct? Things get really dicey if A instead read "than that in". So the answer will read:

In 1979 lack of rain reduced India's rice production to about 41 million tons, nearly 25 percent less than that (= India's rice production) in the 1978 harvest.

Looks correct to me.

As for B, is it okay to read the "harvest" in "nearly 25 percent less than the 1978 harvest" as "rice production"? Doing so convinces me that B is the correct answer.

Sincerely Yours,
Donny

Dear donnylee,

I'm happy to respond.

A. My exam performance was better in 2010 than 2011. Yes, wrong.
B. My exam performance was better in 2010 than in 2011. Perfect!.
C. My exam performance was better in 2010 than that in 2011. Awkward, probably not a right answer on the GMAT.
E. My exam performance is better now than it was in 2011. Not bad.
F. My exam performance is better now than that in 2011. Awkward, doesn't sound good.
G. My exam performance is better now than in 2011. best!

I would recommend this blog article:
Dropping Common Words in Parallel on the GMAT
That article explains the governing idea here.

Here's your GMAT question, SC #9 in the OG 2012.
In 1979 lack of rain reduced India's rice production to about 41 million tons, nearly 25 percent less than those of the 1978 harvest.
(A) less than those of the 1978 harvest = wrong
(B) less than the 1978 harvest = perfect, elegant

Choice (A) makes the mistake of using "those" to refer to "41 million tons," but the comparison is not about a specific amount. This is a subtle logical mistake.

Choice (B) compares harvest to harvest: clean, logically sound, succinct, elegant--a beautifully constructed answer in every way!

Does all this make sense?
Mike
_________________

Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

Director
Joined: 27 Mar 2010
Posts: 976
Location: Bangalore, India
Re: The tricky "than that in" comparison w/ example  [#permalink]

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06 Nov 2017, 23:09
donnylee wrote:
g. My exam performance is better now than in 2011. What you guys think?

Explanation: Because we are comparing now and 2011, we have to introduce the tense is / was. Because of this, we can't imply the pronoun like we did in b. I'm on the fence for g.

Hi donnylee, this would be correct, despite the tense change.

A case in point is the following official question:

Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paving about S5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.

Notice that there is again a tense change (in the bold text above), but the changed tense is just implied.

p.s. Our book EducationAisle Sentence Correction Nirvana discusses these comparison issues, their application and examples in significant detail. If someone is interested, PM me your email-id; I can mail the corresponding section.
_________________

Thanks,
Ashish
EducationAisle, Bangalore

Sentence Correction Nirvana available on Amazon.in and Flipkart

Now! Preview the entire Grammar Section of Sentence Correction Nirvana at pothi.com

Intern
Joined: 29 Oct 2017
Posts: 9
Re: The tricky "than that in" comparison w/ example  [#permalink]

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06 Nov 2017, 23:17
EducationAisle wrote:
donnylee wrote:

Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paving about S5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.

Hi EducationAisle,

Thank you for the follow up.

I'm used to resort to a formulaic technique when it comes to these sort of things. Is there anything wrong for me to think of the correct answer as:

Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than they were last year because refiners are paving about S5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.

and then drop the words (in blue) to give the answer?

I don't see anything wrong with the above sentence. And if given both the above and the correct answer, surely the I'll choose the correct answer due to economy of words. My prompt is for comments in thinking of an answer in this way: use the unabridged version as a check on its correctness.
Director
Joined: 27 Mar 2010
Posts: 976
Location: Bangalore, India
Re: The tricky "than that in" comparison w/ example  [#permalink]

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06 Nov 2017, 23:31
donnylee wrote:
Is there anything wrong for me to think of the correct answer as:

Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than they were last year because refiners are paving about S5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.

and then drop the words (in blue) to give the answer?

Hi donnylee, this is correct interpretation.

Quote:
if given both the above and the correct answer, surely the I'll choose the correct answer due to economy of words. My prompt is for comments in thinking of an answer in this way: use the unabridged version as a check on its correctness.

Am pretty sure we would never see both of these in the options. However, your initial question was whether mentioning the verb is mandatory, in case of a tense change after the comparison operator.

Hence, I cited the official example to illustrate that despite the tense change after the comparison operator, explicitly mentioning the verb (with correct tense) is not mandatory in all scenarios. These scenarios are detailed out in the comparison chapter of our book.
_________________

Thanks,
Ashish
EducationAisle, Bangalore

Sentence Correction Nirvana available on Amazon.in and Flipkart

Now! Preview the entire Grammar Section of Sentence Correction Nirvana at pothi.com

Re: The tricky "than that in" comparison w/ example &nbs [#permalink] 06 Nov 2017, 23:31
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