GMAT Question of the Day - Daily to your Mailbox; hard ones only

It is currently 20 Aug 2019, 01:08

Close

GMAT Club Daily Prep

Thank you for using the timer - this advanced tool can estimate your performance and suggest more practice questions. We have subscribed you to Daily Prep Questions via email.

Customized
for You

we will pick new questions that match your level based on your Timer History

Track
Your Progress

every week, we’ll send you an estimated GMAT score based on your performance

Practice
Pays

we will pick new questions that match your level based on your Timer History

Not interested in getting valuable practice questions and articles delivered to your email? No problem, unsubscribe here.

Close

Request Expert Reply

Confirm Cancel

Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week

  new topic post reply Question banks Downloads My Bookmarks Reviews Important topics  
Author Message
TAGS:

Hide Tags

Find Similar Topics 
Director
Director
User avatar
V
Joined: 12 Feb 2015
Posts: 886
Re: Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week  [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 30 Nov 2018, 20:40
1
1
GMATNinjaTwo wrote:
Good eye, CAMANISHPARMAR... fixed!


Hey GMATNinjaTwo

Thanks for the compliment. Means a lot to me, specially when it is coming from you!!

Just getting into a habit of reading everything very very carefully :)
_________________
"Please hit :thumbup: +1 Kudos if you like this post" :student_man:

_________________
Manish :geek:

"Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me"
Intern
Intern
avatar
B
Joined: 19 Jul 2018
Posts: 9
Re: Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week  [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 31 Dec 2018, 05:33
GMATNinja wrote:
Verbal Experts’ Topic of the Week, July 10-15, 2017:
Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners


This Topic of the Week is dedicated to everybody who has asked this question during our Wednesday verbal chats:

    “The moment we see a SC question. What should be the approach?”

If you open 20 different GMAT test-prep books, you’ll probably see 20 different answers to that question. And you’ll also see 4000 different idioms, 392 different grammar rules, and 10,000 kilograms of grammar jargon. Approximately. ;)

And all of that stuff can be great: you’ll definitely need a basic understanding of grammar, or else sentence correction will be pretty tough. But there’s an endless mountain of SC advice out there, and it can be hard to know where to begin. If you’ve already memorized dozens of grammar rules and hundreds of idioms, that’s great – but memorizing piles of rules won’t always help you figure out what, exactly, you should do when an SC question pops up on the screen.

So here’s our attempt to cut through the noise with a simple, effective “baseline” approach to GMAT sentence correction. This post comes with our usual friendly warning: like our beginner’s guides to CR and RC, this one is long!


But first... a story

Once upon a time, I attended a psychometrics conference that was dominated by academics and geeky employees of standardized testing organizations, including ETS (makers of the GRE and TOEFL) and GMAC (creators of your beloved GMAT). I watched a presentation by a high-ranking GMAT psychometrician, who discussed… well, nevermind that part, I’ll put you right to sleep with that crap.

Anyway, somebody in the audience asked about the “math section of the GMAT.” The GMAT psychometrician interrupted him politely: “Pardon me,” the GMAT guy said, “there is no math section on the GMAT. There’s only quantitative reasoning.”

I probably rolled my eyes. “What a dick,” I thought, “why would he make a big deal out of that? It’s math. Whatever, dude.”

Sure, maybe the GMAT psychometrician had chosen a less-than-ideal time to make a fuss about terminology, but he absolutely had a point. If you think of the quant section as only “math”, you might ignore the fact that there’s a ton of logic rolled into GMAT quant problems. You won’t succeed if you’re just regurgitating math formulas: you have to actually do some reasoning to get an elite score on the GMAT quant section.

The same thing is true of the verbal section of the exam – perhaps even more so than on the quant section. You can’t just regurgitate rules and formulas if you want to succeed on GMAT verbal. And there is no “reading and grammar” section on the GMAT: it’s called “verbal reasoning.”

And unfortunately, to reach an elite level on SC, you have to think of it as a “reasoning” task – not just a grammatical one.

So yes, you need to understand grammar in order to achieve elite results on GMAT SC. But grammar alone won’t get you to a great GMAT score.


Figuring out what’s really important

The key to success on GMAT SC isn’t knowing every single rule in the English language. You need to know enough about the most frequently tested rules – and then the really important thing is knowing what to prioritize when an SC question appears on the screen.

Let’s face it: the English language sometimes feels infinite, regardless of whether you’re a native speaker or a non-native speaker. English offers an endless supply of exciting-sounding things like gerunds, adjectival modifiers, progressive tenses, and absolute phrases. English even has a glorious array of around 25,000 idioms – which, for whatever it’s worth, you probably don’t want to memorize.

If you really do want to learn all of that stuff, go for it. But here’s how it can hurt you on the GMAT: when you see an SC question, do you start by thinking about a random grammar rule, or are you able to cut straight to the MOST IMPORTANT things in the sentence? Or does your brain just logjam entirely, because it’s been overstuffed with rules and jargon and idioms?

So if you’ve already maximized your grammar knowledge – without actually maximizing your GMAT SC results – then you probably need to simplify your approach, and focus on the most important things first. To succeed on GMAT SC, you’ll want to begin by executing flawlessly on two steps.


Step 1: DEFINITE errors first

The first step you should always take on SC is eliminating any answer choices that contain DEFINITE errors.

What do we mean by that? If you’re certain, for example, that a pronoun has no antecedent, or that the subject of the sentence doesn’t agree with the verb, or that a modifier is misplaced... then cross the offending answer choice out. Sounds simple enough, right?

But I see mistakes with this process literally every single day: some test-takers will begin by eliminating SC answer choices because they “don’t sound good” or because they’re “wordy” or because “the comparison sounds awkward.” If you start with any of these things – all of which are basically opinions and not rules – you’re making a huge mistake.

Similarly, if you start by eliminating answer choices based on a “grammar rule” that you aren’t certain is actually a rule, that’s a big mistake, too. Be conservative at first: if you don’t know for CERTAIN that an answer choice is wrong, keep it until you really are certain.

So the key is to start with the most straightforward, frequently tested rules. The following are topics that will give you the most bang for your buck, because they are either based on very mechanical rules – or because the GMAT simply loves to test them:

    1. pronouns (it, they, that, those)
    2. modifiers (that, which, “-ing”, “-ed”, etc.)
    3. parallelism, including special parallelism triggers (both/and, either/or, not/but)
    4. basic comparisons, especially “like,” “unlike”, and “as”
    5. subject-verb agreement
    6. verb tenses, especially past perfect tense
    7. a few other minor-but-straightforward topics: semicolons, “due to”, and countable vs. non-countable modifiers

As a first step to success on GMAT SC, you’ll want to understand these topics thoroughly – and more importantly, you’ll want to make sure that these jump off the page at you whenever you see them. If you fail to notice “it” or “they” or “which” or “that” or “and” when they appear in a sentence, you might miss some very easy questions. And on an adaptive test, you’re in big trouble if you miss even a few easy questions.

If you master these seven topics, you’ll be able to eliminate roughly half of the wrong answer choices on the GMAT. To be fair, that’s just a very rough estimate: some official questions, like this one and this one, are based solely on those seven topics. But in other SC questions – including this one and this one – those seven topics are lamentably useless.

So these seven topics aren’t everything. But they’re always the most efficient place to start. (And don’t worry: we’ll eventually cover them all in our Topic of the Week series, and there are plenty of links at the end of this article to help get you started.)


Step 2: compare remaining choices based on meaning

OK, so what do you do once you’ve eliminated everything you can based on clear, definite rules?

Remember our mantra: the section is called “verbal reasoning,” not “grammar and reading.” So once you’ve found every DEFINITE grammar error you can, your next job is to figure out how to make the structure of the sentence match the meaning.

Here’s the basic idea: compare the remaining pairs of answer choices, and identify the EXACT differences between each pair. Then think about whether those differences are going to impact the meaning in some way. Of course, that part gets really subtle and tricky – and it’s different on every question.

Here are a few shortened examples, adapted from official GMAT questions:

    Companies in the United States are providing job training and general education for nearly eight million people, about equal to those who are enrolled in the nation’s four-year colleges and universities.

    1. equal to those who are enrolled in
    2. as many as are enrolled in

Option #1 is literally saying that the 8 million people in job training programs are “equal to the people who are enrolled in four-year colleges and universities.” That’s not grammatically wrong at all! And it seems to be a very nice sentiment about equality among people with different educational backgrounds.

But that’s really not what the sentence is trying to say: in option #2, it’s clear that we’re comparing the number of people in each group, not making a statement about how one group of people is “equal to” the other.

Here, have another one:

    Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been constructed in violation of the city's building code.

    1. Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been
    2. Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake had been

This one is interesting, because the only real difference is the placement of the phrase “last year.” In option #1, “last year” is right next to “earthquake,” and it seems to be telling us that the earthquake occurred last year. That seems reasonable.

But option #2 subtly expresses the wrong idea. “Last year” is right at the beginning of the sentence, suggesting that the entire first clause is the thing that happened last year: “some of the buildings… [modifier blah blah]… had been constructed in violation of the city’s building code.” But that doesn’t make sense: the buildings weren’t constructed last year.

Let’s do one more:

    In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company was the scene of an intensive series of experiments that investigated changes in working conditions’ effects on workers’ performance.

    1. that investigated changes in working conditions’ effects on workers’ performance
    2. investigating the effects that changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance

This one is also pretty subtle. There are plenty of little differences here (“that investigated changes” vs. “investigating”; use of conditional “would have”), and it’s easy to get distracted.

But here’s the important difference that really impacts the meaning: option #1 says that the company investigated changes in the (working conditions’) effects – not changes in the working conditions themselves. Nasty! Option #2 “sounds wordier”, but the meaning is much more reasonable: the experiments apparently changed the working conditions, and then investigated the effects of those changes on worker performance.

And we could go on and on with more examples. The bottom line: getting better at distinguishing between the meaning of two sentences is a difficult thing, since no two questions will test exactly the same content and meaning. But unfortunately, there’s no way around it: to get to an elite SC score, you’ll have to get pretty good at finding the strict, LITERAL differences in meaning between two or more answer choices.


Your ear is your enemy!

Now that we’ve discussed what you should do when you’re getting started on SC, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t do.

For starters, you should NEVER rely on your ear, unless you have absolutely no other options. When SC was first developed in the 1980s, globalization hadn’t really taken off yet, and the GMAT’s creators certainly weren’t trying to torment non-native speakers. The whole point was just to see whether test-takers could tell the difference between “correct written English” and the way educated Americans speak in real life.

In other words, SC was designed to punish test-takers who relied on their ear. And that hasn’t changed at all.

Let’s face it: a huge percentage of correct GMAT SC sentences sound like hot garbage. Many of them are just too damned long and convoluted. They’re often messy, wordy, and awkward.

And yes, the (not very useful) GMAT OG explanations often use the words “wordy” or “awkward”, but those are subjective terms. If you dismiss an answer choice based on them, you’re basically “using your ear” or relying on instincts, rather than engaging in methodical, disciplined verbal reasoning. And that’s incredibly dangerous, because what “sounds awkward” to you might not be awkward to the test-writers.

So keep your ear out of it! Remember: the section is called “verbal reasoning", not "ooh, this one sounds pretty good."


What about other grammar rules?

By now, you might be thinking something like this: “Hang on, Ninja dude. I’ve studied tons of other things, like passive voice and gerunds and idioms and punctuation. They’re useful. I’ve even read posts about them here on GMAT Club. Hey wait, Ninja guy – you WROTE some of those posts, you freaking lunatic! And now you’re saying that they don’t matter?!?”

Easy there, cowboy. I’m not saying that they don’t matter. I’m saying that if you’re just getting started with sentence correction – or if your results are stagnant after cramming tons of grammar into your head – then memorizing more rules and more jargon and more idioms won’t necessarily help.

Again, here’s what’s really important:

    1. Your ability to immediately recognize the most frequently-tested rules as soon as you see any SC question, as described above. If an answer choice features a basic grammar topic, like parallelism or pronouns or modifier placement, then you absolutely can’t afford to miss it.
    2. Whether you can accurately understand the EXACT differences in meaning among the remaining choices. And all of the grammar rules in the world won’t help you much with this part.

If memorizing more rules distracts you from these two tasks – or worse, just causes an epic brain logjam – then the memorization isn’t a great use of your time.

So if you want to learn additional, “minor” grammar rules and if you’re able to use them wisely, that’s great: keep going! Just don’t let your quest for more grammar knowledge distract you from the important stuff.


Don’t fall in love

You’ve heard this before, too, but it’s worth repeating: whenever you do anything on the GMAT verbal section, you should always look for four wrong answers – not one right answer. If you try to take shortcuts with this process, I promise that you’ll make mistakes, especially on relatively difficult questions.

The easiest mistake to make on GMAT SC is this: you’ll read the original sentence, and decide what you want the sentence to say in its “correct” or “ideal” form. But I have bad news: whatever you’re thinking probably won’t be an option. Again, correct answers on SC aren’t always good sentences – they’re just the least-terrible of the five options.

So we’ll say it again: don’t fall in love. Instead of looking for one wonderful, correct sentence, identify four wrong answers. You might not like the answer that remains, because it might sound like a steaming turd. But if you’ve done your job properly, it will still be the right answer.


Stick to the official stuff

You’ve undoubtedly heard this before, too: the GMAT spends between $1500 and $3000 developing every official question, and even the very best test-prep experts – including whoever writes and selects those GMAT Club verbal Questions of the Day – simply can’t compete.

So when you’re doing questions here on GMAT Club, please keep an eye on the tags that indicate the question source. You might be able to learn something from the non-official SC questions sometimes, but whenever possible, focus your SC energy on official questions.


Yes, this is about reading skill, too

If you’ve read our Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners or our Ultimate CR Guide for Beginners, you already know that strong reading skills are a prerequisite for elite CR and RC results.

The same is true for SC, albeit to a lesser degree. If you struggle to understand EXACTLY how a small change in language impacts the meaning of a sentence, then all of the test-prep strategies in the world won’t help much. Sure, you’ll be able to get mechanical, purely grammar-based questions right. And then you’ll hit a ceiling on SC, since meaning is easily half of the battle.

So if your underlying reading skills need improvement, be honest with yourself about it! And if you need to work on those skills, check out the links at the end of this post and in the Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners.


Want more?

You have questions about SC? GMAT Club has you very, very thoroughly covered:





Hi Dear Instructor,

This is about one example question in the "meaning" category.
For question two, you pick option 1 over 2, because you mentioned that "option #2 subtly expresses the wrong idea". But I'm wondering how do you know what is the intended (correct) meaning of this question. Is it dependent on the answer choice A, which is the "original idea?".

Thank you !
Intern
Intern
avatar
B
Joined: 17 May 2016
Posts: 13
Location: Canada
Concentration: Economics, Operations
Re: Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week  [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 25 Jan 2019, 22:16
GMATNinja , Can you please provide an article on RC . That would be very helpful.
GMAT Club Verbal Expert
User avatar
D
Status: GMAT and GRE tutor
Joined: 13 Aug 2009
Posts: 2770
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 780 Q51 V46
GMAT 2: 800 Q51 V51
GRE 1: Q170 V170
Re: Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week  [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 08 Feb 2019, 04:26
1
Piggu18 wrote:
GMATNinja , Can you please provide an article on RC . That would be very helpful.

You're in luck! We also have beginners' guides for CR and RC.

You can also find the links to all three beginners' guides in my signature.

Have fun studying!
_________________
GMAT/GRE tutor @ www.gmatninja.com (we're hiring!) | GMAT Club Verbal Expert | Instagram | Blog | Bad at PMs

Beginners' guides to GMAT verbal: RC | CR | SC

YouTube LIVE verbal webinars: Series 1: Fundamentals of SC & CR | Series 2: Developing a Winning GMAT Mindset

SC & CR Questions of the Day (QOTDs), featuring expert explanations: All QOTDs | Subscribe via email | RSS

Need an expert reply? Hit the request verbal experts' reply button; be specific about your question, and tag @GMATNinja. Priority is always given to official GMAT questions.

SC articles & resources: How to go from great (760) to incredible (780) on GMAT SC | That "-ing" Word Probably Isn't a Verb | That "-ed" Word Might Not Be a Verb, Either | No-BS Guide to GMAT Idioms | "Being" is not the enemy | WTF is "that" doing in my sentence?

RC, CR, and other articles & resources: All GMAT Ninja articles on GMAT Club | Using LSAT for GMAT CR & RC |7 reasons why your actual GMAT scores don't match your practice test scores | How to get 4 additional "fake" GMAT Prep tests for $29.99 | Time management on verbal
Manager
Manager
avatar
B
Joined: 23 Aug 2017
Posts: 118
Re: Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week  [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 12 Feb 2019, 03:42
1
GMATNinja
Thanks for the exciting post...I have a question regarding the following:

In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company was the scene of an intensive series of experiments that investigated changes in working conditions’ effects on workers’ performance.

1. that investigated changes in working conditions’ effects on workers’ performance
2. investigating the effects that changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance


This one is also pretty subtle. There are plenty of little differences here (“that investigated changes” vs. “investigating”; use of conditional “would have”), and it’s easy to get distracted.

But here’s the important difference that really impacts the meaning: option #1 says that the company investigated changes in the (working conditions’) effects – not changes in the working conditions themselves. Nasty! Option #2 “sounds wordier”, but the meaning is much more reasonable: the experiments apparently changed the working conditions, and then investigated the effects of those changes on worker performance.

In option 1....doesnt "that" refers to the "intensive series of experiments" that did the research...?

An explanation could be useful..
Thanks in advance
GMAT Club Verbal Expert
User avatar
D
Status: GMAT and GRE tutor
Joined: 13 Aug 2009
Posts: 2770
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 780 Q51 V46
GMAT 2: 800 Q51 V51
GRE 1: Q170 V170
Re: Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week  [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 21 Feb 2019, 12:02
1
Debashis Roy wrote:
GMATNinja
Thanks for the exciting post...I have a question regarding the following:

In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company was the scene of an intensive series of experiments that investigated changes in working conditions’ effects on workers’ performance.

1. that investigated changes in working conditions’ effects on workers’ performance
2. investigating the effects that changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance


This one is also pretty subtle. There are plenty of little differences here (“that investigated changes” vs. “investigating”; use of conditional “would have”), and it’s easy to get distracted.

But here’s the important difference that really impacts the meaning: option #1 says that the company investigated changes in the (working conditions’) effects – not changes in the working conditions themselves. Nasty! Option #2 “sounds wordier”, but the meaning is much more reasonable: the experiments apparently changed the working conditions, and then investigated the effects of those changes on worker performance.

In option 1....doesnt "that" refers to the "intensive series of experiments" that did the research...?

An explanation could be useful..
Thanks in advance

This is an excellent analysis more than it is a question! Nicely done. You're exactly right that the first sentence is illogical because the experiments aren't designed to investigate the changes in the conditions' effects - they're investigating the effects that changes in conditions would have.

As for "that," you're also right. "That" certainly seems to refer to "experiments." If you're wondering whether this is illogical -- because it should be the people conducting experiments, rather than then the experiments themselves -- the answer is that either of those is fine. In fact, in the second sentence, "investigating" also modifies "experiments", providing more or less the same meaning.

Put another way: in your previous breakdown, you've given exactly the right reasoning for eliminating the first option as a contender. The usage of "that" is fine in this case. Excellent work.

And for anybody who wants two really long-winded breakdowns of this question, they're available here: https://gmatclub.com/forum/in-the-mid-1 ... 87557.html.
_________________
GMAT/GRE tutor @ www.gmatninja.com (we're hiring!) | GMAT Club Verbal Expert | Instagram | Blog | Bad at PMs

Beginners' guides to GMAT verbal: RC | CR | SC

YouTube LIVE verbal webinars: Series 1: Fundamentals of SC & CR | Series 2: Developing a Winning GMAT Mindset

SC & CR Questions of the Day (QOTDs), featuring expert explanations: All QOTDs | Subscribe via email | RSS

Need an expert reply? Hit the request verbal experts' reply button; be specific about your question, and tag @GMATNinja. Priority is always given to official GMAT questions.

SC articles & resources: How to go from great (760) to incredible (780) on GMAT SC | That "-ing" Word Probably Isn't a Verb | That "-ed" Word Might Not Be a Verb, Either | No-BS Guide to GMAT Idioms | "Being" is not the enemy | WTF is "that" doing in my sentence?

RC, CR, and other articles & resources: All GMAT Ninja articles on GMAT Club | Using LSAT for GMAT CR & RC |7 reasons why your actual GMAT scores don't match your practice test scores | How to get 4 additional "fake" GMAT Prep tests for $29.99 | Time management on verbal
Senior Manager
Senior Manager
avatar
G
Joined: 10 Jan 2013
Posts: 265
Location: India
Concentration: General Management, Strategy
GPA: 3.95
GMAT ToolKit User Premium Member Reviews Badge
Re: Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week  [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 23 Feb 2019, 00:55
daagh GMATNinja

I have this one question- I am facing issues in understanding the topic - comparison...
more specifically the construction-
a. X more than Y

Somehow I am not able to understand what is being compared with what.

could you please guide me to an article or link. I would be grateful to you for this gesture.
GMAT Club Verbal Expert
User avatar
D
Status: GMAT and GRE tutor
Joined: 13 Aug 2009
Posts: 2770
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 780 Q51 V46
GMAT 2: 800 Q51 V51
GRE 1: Q170 V170
Re: Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week  [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 03 Mar 2019, 14:18
1
saurabh9gupta wrote:
I have this one question- I am facing issues in understanding the topic - comparison...
more specifically the construction-
a. X more than Y

Somehow I am not able to understand what is being compared with what.

could you please guide me to an article or link. I would be grateful to you for this gesture.

I'm not quite sure that I understand your question about that specific structure, but in general, comparisons on the GMAT are about understanding the logic and meaning of the comparison. I don't think you'll get much benefit from memorizing a bunch of different comparison structures, though.

We did a couple of live videos on comparisons that might answer your doubts -- part 1 is here, and part 2 is here. Check those out, and see if they help?
_________________
GMAT/GRE tutor @ www.gmatninja.com (we're hiring!) | GMAT Club Verbal Expert | Instagram | Blog | Bad at PMs

Beginners' guides to GMAT verbal: RC | CR | SC

YouTube LIVE verbal webinars: Series 1: Fundamentals of SC & CR | Series 2: Developing a Winning GMAT Mindset

SC & CR Questions of the Day (QOTDs), featuring expert explanations: All QOTDs | Subscribe via email | RSS

Need an expert reply? Hit the request verbal experts' reply button; be specific about your question, and tag @GMATNinja. Priority is always given to official GMAT questions.

SC articles & resources: How to go from great (760) to incredible (780) on GMAT SC | That "-ing" Word Probably Isn't a Verb | That "-ed" Word Might Not Be a Verb, Either | No-BS Guide to GMAT Idioms | "Being" is not the enemy | WTF is "that" doing in my sentence?

RC, CR, and other articles & resources: All GMAT Ninja articles on GMAT Club | Using LSAT for GMAT CR & RC |7 reasons why your actual GMAT scores don't match your practice test scores | How to get 4 additional "fake" GMAT Prep tests for $29.99 | Time management on verbal
Intern
Intern
avatar
Joined: 04 Mar 2019
Posts: 3
Re: Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week  [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 04 Mar 2019, 13:11
Hi GMATNINJIA,

Thanks for sharing this great post. I have a quick question about the sentence below:

Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been constructed in violation of the city's building code.

1. Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been
2. Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake had been

This one is interesting, because the only real difference is the placement of the phrase “last year.” In option #1, “last year” is right next to “earthquake,” and it seems to be telling us that the earthquake occurred last year. That seems reasonable.

But option #2 subtly expresses the wrong idea. “Last year” is right at the beginning of the sentence, suggesting that the entire first clause is the thing that happened last year: “some of the buildings… [modifier blah blah]… had been constructed in violation of the city’s building code.” But that doesn’t make sense: the buildings weren’t constructed last year.


Based on the explanation, option 1 and 2 literally have no grammar issue. How could I know if the buildings were not constructed last year?

Thanks in advance.
Manager
Manager
User avatar
S
Joined: 11 Aug 2018
Posts: 111
Premium Member CAT Tests
Re: Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week  [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 12 Jun 2019, 10:04
1
Thanks, GMAT Ninja I don't have words to thank you. You are Richard Feynman reborn(a theoretical physicist, a genius, who explained complex idea in a very intelligent and handy way)
May you live 1 trillion Years
_________________
If you like this post, be kind and help me with Kudos!

Cheers!
GMAT Club Verbal Expert
User avatar
D
Status: GMAT and GRE tutor
Joined: 13 Aug 2009
Posts: 2770
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 780 Q51 V46
GMAT 2: 800 Q51 V51
GRE 1: Q170 V170
Re: Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week  [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 29 Jun 2019, 18:41
Evennie wrote:
Hi GMATNINJIA,

Thanks for sharing this great post. I have a quick question about the sentence below:

Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been constructed in violation of the city's building code.

1. Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been
2. Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake had been

This one is interesting, because the only real difference is the placement of the phrase “last year.” In option #1, “last year” is right next to “earthquake,” and it seems to be telling us that the earthquake occurred last year. That seems reasonable.

But option #2 subtly expresses the wrong idea. “Last year” is right at the beginning of the sentence, suggesting that the entire first clause is the thing that happened last year: “some of the buildings… [modifier blah blah]… had been constructed in violation of the city’s building code.” But that doesn’t make sense: the buildings weren’t constructed last year.


Based on the explanation, option 1 and 2 literally have no grammar issue. How could I know if the buildings were not constructed last year?

Thanks in advance.

You're right: you can't read the GMAT's mind when it comes to the intended meaning of the sentence!

Think of it this way, though: between (1) and (2) you're comparing two different meanings. In (1) we know that the buildings were destroyed last year and that some time before that, they were built in violation of a building code. That's clear and it makes sense.

In (2) "last year" is modifying the main verb of the sentence, "had been built." But now we have to assume that the buildings were built and then were destroyed by an earthquake almost immediately after. Sure, that's theoretically possible. But which one makes more sense: that the earthquake happened last year and sometime before that they were built (option 1)? Or that last year the buildings were built and were destroyed by an earthquake in the same exact year (option 2)?

If the GMAT forces us to choose between those -- and it does, for whatever reason -- I'm going with option #1.

gmatgood wrote:
Hi Dear Instructor,

This is about one example question in the "meaning" category.
For question two, you pick option 1 over 2, because you mentioned that "option #2 subtly expresses the wrong idea". But I'm wondering how do you know what is the intended (correct) meaning of this question. Is it dependent on the answer choice A, which is the "original idea?".

Thank you !

gmatgood, I'm so sorry for overlooking your question! Hopefully the explanation above helps with your question...

No, the meaning in answer choice (A) should not be put on a pedestal. We are looking for the meaning that makes the most sense -- even if that means that the correct answer means something different from answer choice (A).

I hope this helps a bit!
_________________
GMAT/GRE tutor @ www.gmatninja.com (we're hiring!) | GMAT Club Verbal Expert | Instagram | Blog | Bad at PMs

Beginners' guides to GMAT verbal: RC | CR | SC

YouTube LIVE verbal webinars: Series 1: Fundamentals of SC & CR | Series 2: Developing a Winning GMAT Mindset

SC & CR Questions of the Day (QOTDs), featuring expert explanations: All QOTDs | Subscribe via email | RSS

Need an expert reply? Hit the request verbal experts' reply button; be specific about your question, and tag @GMATNinja. Priority is always given to official GMAT questions.

SC articles & resources: How to go from great (760) to incredible (780) on GMAT SC | That "-ing" Word Probably Isn't a Verb | That "-ed" Word Might Not Be a Verb, Either | No-BS Guide to GMAT Idioms | "Being" is not the enemy | WTF is "that" doing in my sentence?

RC, CR, and other articles & resources: All GMAT Ninja articles on GMAT Club | Using LSAT for GMAT CR & RC |7 reasons why your actual GMAT scores don't match your practice test scores | How to get 4 additional "fake" GMAT Prep tests for $29.99 | Time management on verbal
GMAT Club Verbal Expert
User avatar
D
Status: GMAT and GRE tutor
Joined: 13 Aug 2009
Posts: 2770
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 780 Q51 V46
GMAT 2: 800 Q51 V51
GRE 1: Q170 V170
Re: Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week  [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 29 Jun 2019, 18:44
1
alitariquet wrote:
Thanks, GMAT Ninja I don't have words to thank you. You are Richard Feynman reborn(a theoretical physicist, a genius, who explained complex idea in a very intelligent and handy way)
May you live 1 trillion Years

Oh wow, thank you so much for the kind words, alitariquet! This is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me here on GMAT Club, and that's saying a lot, because people here are generally incredibly warm and generous. :)

May the GMAT gods bring YOU the score of your dreams. Thank you again for the wonderful compliment.
_________________
GMAT/GRE tutor @ www.gmatninja.com (we're hiring!) | GMAT Club Verbal Expert | Instagram | Blog | Bad at PMs

Beginners' guides to GMAT verbal: RC | CR | SC

YouTube LIVE verbal webinars: Series 1: Fundamentals of SC & CR | Series 2: Developing a Winning GMAT Mindset

SC & CR Questions of the Day (QOTDs), featuring expert explanations: All QOTDs | Subscribe via email | RSS

Need an expert reply? Hit the request verbal experts' reply button; be specific about your question, and tag @GMATNinja. Priority is always given to official GMAT questions.

SC articles & resources: How to go from great (760) to incredible (780) on GMAT SC | That "-ing" Word Probably Isn't a Verb | That "-ed" Word Might Not Be a Verb, Either | No-BS Guide to GMAT Idioms | "Being" is not the enemy | WTF is "that" doing in my sentence?

RC, CR, and other articles & resources: All GMAT Ninja articles on GMAT Club | Using LSAT for GMAT CR & RC |7 reasons why your actual GMAT scores don't match your practice test scores | How to get 4 additional "fake" GMAT Prep tests for $29.99 | Time management on verbal
SVP
SVP
User avatar
V
Joined: 26 Mar 2013
Posts: 2303
Reviews Badge CAT Tests
Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week  [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 30 Jun 2019, 19:26
Hi GMATNinja

I would like to ask you about the words 'majority' and 'minority'. How can we determine if the verb singular or plural?

Take these examples

The majority of the students seems/seem to oppose the new policy.

The majority of the regions in the state is/are struggling under the new law.

The majority has/have the right to nominate the candidate.

In Manhattan SC book: "The words majority, minority, and plurality are either singular or plural, depending on their context. If
you want to indicate the many individual parts of the totality, use a plural verb. If you want to indicate
the totality itself, then use a singular verb form."

Example form Manhattan: The majority of the students in this class ARE hard workers.

I saw many links on internet that support the above rule. This is from Cambridge dictionary:
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictio ... h/majority

However, I found others like this one that suggests: "The word “the” before a collective noun (“the majority”) is usually a tip-off that it’s singular, while “a” before the noun (“a majority”), especially when “of” comes next, usually indicates a plural."
https://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2007 ... rules.html
https://www.btb.termiumplus.gc.ca/tpv2g ... ar_numbers

I found something very different from the 2 above:

https://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/gmat-sent ... SYQAvD_BwE

Have you seen any GMAT-like question for majority?

It is really confusing.
GMAT Club Verbal Expert
User avatar
D
Status: GMAT and GRE tutor
Joined: 13 Aug 2009
Posts: 2770
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 780 Q51 V46
GMAT 2: 800 Q51 V51
GRE 1: Q170 V170
Re: Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week  [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 01 Jul 2019, 09:51
1
Mo2men wrote:
Hi GMATNinja

I would like to ask you about the words 'majority' and 'minority'. How can we determine if the verb singular or plural?

Take these examples

The majority of the students seems/seem to oppose the new policy.

The majority of the regions in the state is/are struggling under the new law.

The majority has/have the right to nominate the candidate.

In Manhattan SC book: "The words majority, minority, and plurality are either singular or plural, depending on their context. If
you want to indicate the many individual parts of the totality, use a plural verb. If you want to indicate
the totality itself, then use a singular verb form."

Example form Manhattan: The majority of the students in this class ARE hard workers.

I saw many links on internet that support the above rule. This is from Cambridge dictionary:
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictio ... h/majority

However, I found others like this one that suggests: "The word “the” before a collective noun (“the majority”) is usually a tip-off that it’s singular, while “a” before the noun (“a majority”), especially when “of” comes next, usually indicates a plural."
https://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2007 ... rules.html
https://www.btb.termiumplus.gc.ca/tpv2g ... ar_numbers

I found something very different from the 2 above:

https://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/gmat-sent ... SYQAvD_BwE

Have you seen any GMAT-like question for majority?

It is really confusing.

While the word "majority" appears in some GMAT questions, I can't think of any cases when official GMAT questions have explicitly tested whether "majority" (or "minority" -- you can assume throughout this post that anything I say about "majority" applies to "minority as well) is singular or plural. (And for whatever it's worth, "GMAT-like" questions aren't relevant to us at all if we're trying to figure out whether the GMAT actually tests something. If it's not an official question, it tells us nothing about how things actually work on the exam.)

So I don't think this issue is likely to impact your GMAT score much, one way or another.

For whatever it's worth, context is the most important thing in determining whether "majority" is singular or plural. Often, the word "majority" describes a group of things:

    "The majority of the people Charlie dined with last night were in awe of his prodigious appetite." -- Multiple people were in awe of Charlie's appetite, so the verb needs to be plural.

In colloquial, spoken English, it's not unusual for "majority" to be singular:

    The majority of the water in the aquifer is contaminated." -- "Water" is singular, so "the majority of the water" must also be singular. And if you're picturing a blob of water that represents a large portion of an aquifer, it logically is a singular thing, right?

Here's the hitch: there's a school of thought that says that "majority" can be used only with countable nouns -- and if that's the case, then the phrase "majority of the water" is incorrect. Nobody would have any problem with that phrase in real life. Unfortunately, the GMAT may or may not be remotely relevant to real life. So on the GMAT, if I'm forced to choose between "the majority of the water" and "most of the water", I would choose the latter. But again, I don't know whether you'll ever see that on an official question.

So here's how I would think about this:

  • If "majority of ______" is logically a plural entity, then it will take a plural verb.
  • If "majority of _____" logically describes a singular entity, then it will take a singular verb... but if that happens, you might want to look for an answer choice that avoids the use of "majority" altogether.

And most importantly: it's tough to come up with official examples when ANY of this has been tested. So don't lose too much sleep over it.

I hope this helps a bit!
_________________
GMAT/GRE tutor @ www.gmatninja.com (we're hiring!) | GMAT Club Verbal Expert | Instagram | Blog | Bad at PMs

Beginners' guides to GMAT verbal: RC | CR | SC

YouTube LIVE verbal webinars: Series 1: Fundamentals of SC & CR | Series 2: Developing a Winning GMAT Mindset

SC & CR Questions of the Day (QOTDs), featuring expert explanations: All QOTDs | Subscribe via email | RSS

Need an expert reply? Hit the request verbal experts' reply button; be specific about your question, and tag @GMATNinja. Priority is always given to official GMAT questions.

SC articles & resources: How to go from great (760) to incredible (780) on GMAT SC | That "-ing" Word Probably Isn't a Verb | That "-ed" Word Might Not Be a Verb, Either | No-BS Guide to GMAT Idioms | "Being" is not the enemy | WTF is "that" doing in my sentence?

RC, CR, and other articles & resources: All GMAT Ninja articles on GMAT Club | Using LSAT for GMAT CR & RC |7 reasons why your actual GMAT scores don't match your practice test scores | How to get 4 additional "fake" GMAT Prep tests for $29.99 | Time management on verbal
GMAT Club Bot
Re: Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week   [#permalink] 01 Jul 2019, 09:51

Go to page   Previous    1   2   [ 34 posts ] 

Display posts from previous: Sort by

Ultimate SC Guide for Beginners - Expert Topic of the Week

  new topic post reply Question banks Downloads My Bookmarks Reviews Important topics  





Powered by phpBB © phpBB Group | Emoji artwork provided by EmojiOne