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Verb+ing Modifier - Conceptual Clarity

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Re: Verb+ing Modifier - Conceptual Clarity  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Apr 2014, 03:47
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I was alerted to the existence of this thread through the MGMAT grapevine.

This quote captures the essence of the issue:
neha24 wrote:
to mike
also please note that RON in that post is saying that comma + verb ing modifier must always make make sense with the subject of the previous clause,a situation which you are saying that at times might not be followed


Very careful, very exact usage of "__ing" modifiers requires that the previous subject be the agent of the __ing action. (Usually this agency is, in some way or another, indirect. Otherwise, it would make more sense to use a normal subject-verb pair, rather than an __ing that modifies another, more direct action.)

E.g.,

Ryan was cheated by the other poker players, throwing his wife into a fit of rage.
--> Here, Ryan's wife is mad at Ryan, presumably for being guileless or trusting enough to allow the others to cheat him.

The other poker players cheated Ryan, throwing his wife into a fit of rage.
--> Ryan's wife is mad at the other players for their cheating.

If this reasoning is extended to the problem at hand, it's clear that "crime" can't sensibly be the subject that precedes the __ing modifier. Crime itself, after all, is not ultimately responsible for the rise in property values.
(To confound matters further, the same can't be said for all decreases. E.g., The value of the dollar fell steeply, prompting panicked investors to drop dollar-denominated assets: This sentence makes sense, because, ultimately, investors were still reacting to the value of the dollar. By contrast, in the current situation, property values have not changed in response to crime itself; they have changed in response to the absence of crime.)

In the current sentence, for this kind of modifier to work as it should, the ultimately responsible force should appear as the preceding subject: An increased police presence has lowered crime in the neighborhood, leading to a rise in property values.

--

Ultimately, the question is just how meticulously GMAC follows this convention—a question I can't immediately answer, as it would require an exhaustive search through all of the __ing modifiers in GMAC's correct answers.
If GMAC follows this rule to the letter throughout its correct answers, then it's safe to conclude that Crime has decreased... cannot logically be followed by the __ing modifier. If GMAC seems to countenance similar usages, though, we'd conclude the opposite.

Perhaps most importantly, if anyone is capable of debating modifier usage at this level, he or she might be best advised to quit debating, close the books, and go take the exam!
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Re: Verb+ing Modifier - Conceptual Clarity  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Apr 2014, 10:34
RonPurewal wrote:
Ultimately, the question is just how meticulously GMAC follows this convention—a question I can't immediately answer, as it would require an exhaustive search through all of the __ing modifiers in GMAC's correct answers.
If GMAC follows this rule to the letter throughout its correct answers, then it's safe to conclude that Crime has decreased... cannot logically be followed by the __ing modifier. If GMAC seems to countenance similar usages, though, we'd conclude the opposite.

Perhaps most importantly, if anyone is capable of debating modifier usage at this level, he or she might be best advised to quit debating, close the books, and go take the exam!

Dear Ron Purewal,
First of all, thank you very much for responding. With all due respect, I beg to differ. The MGMAT SC book, in which "crime has decreased ..." appears as a correct sentence (5th ed, Vol 8, p. 90), as well as other authoritative texts (e.g. The Oxford English Grammar) say that the present participle can act as an adverbial phrase and modify not just an individual noun but a clause as a whole. It seems to me that this is a possibility you were not considering in your analysis. What would you say about this interpretation of the "crime has decreased ..." sentence?

I did a very cursory scan of the sentences in the OG13, and found none in which this issue is directly tested. Obviously, one would have to check through all the questions in GMAT prep and other official sources to be sure, but I suspect that the GMAT simply sidesteps this potentially contentious issue. The folks at GMAC seem to avoid assiduously any areas over which well-informed parties might disagree.

Thank you once again for your response.

Mike
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Re: Verb+ing Modifier - Conceptual Clarity  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Dec 2019, 02:24
mikemcgarry wrote:
imhimanshu wrote:
Hi Mike,
Thanks for the detailed explanation. :)
Actually, the terminology that I used has been adopted from e-gmat. e-gmat has coined this term to make the things little easier to explain, thus helping aspirants to retain it longer. Sorry for the confusion.

I believe, I have a fair bit of idea regarding the usage of participles and participial phrases. As you stated above the different functions of participles and participle phrases, I'm presenting examples of each such usage to get my reasoning validated and to clarify my doubt, which is still there. :(

A participial phrase can modify

(a) a noun (in which case it often will "touch" the noun)
Mother soothed her [color=#0000ff]crying baby. [/color]Here, Crying is used as Participle. Hence modifying, baby.
Wearing a red Shirt, John presented gift to Alia. - ,Wearing a red Shirt, participle phrase describing John
John wearing a red shirt went to see Baseball Match- Wearing a red Shirt- Participle phrase describing John

Dear Himanshu,
I'm happy to help. :-)
First of all, all three of these sentence are perfectly correct and perfectly analyzed.

imhimanshu wrote:
(b) a verb (in which can it will answer a "how" question about the verb) -
Tina prepared Salad, using eggs and mayonnaise. Now, here it is answering "How" of a result. Hence, working as Adverbial Modifier. Since, these modifiers are made from verbs, they must denote action and make sense with Subject. Here, Tina used eggs and mayonnaise.

This one is more ambiguous --- I could see the argument that "using" answers "how" and modifies the verb "prepared", or that it modifies the subject Tina. For GMAT purposes, this doesn't matter --- the sentence is perfectly correct.

imhimanshu wrote:
(c) a whole phrase or clause
Cameras detected moons, increasing the number to twelve. Here, it is showing the consequence of clause. But, here the concept goes on toss that the verb should make sense with the subject. Why is it so?? Or can we say that when it describes the consequence of clause then we should let go off this rule.

I'll modify this sentence slightly --- Cameras detected new moons, increasing the number of known satellites to twelve. --- technically, nothing about the cameras or the detection actually increased the real number of moons that Uranus has --- all that increased is the number we know about! What changes is nothing out there around the seventh planet --- what changes is only our knowledge. Technically, for this reason, the GMAT would consider the sentence you have illogical. The GMAT definitely cares about this sort of thing.
Now, as for the participle --- your sentence & my sentence both use the participle correct.

That rule, the verb should make sense with an explicitly stated subject --- jettison that rule. It's not necessary. In the sentence,
Cameras detected new moons, increasing the number of known satellites to twelve.
the participle "increasing" modifies the entire clause. There is not explicitly stated subject that could be the subject of the verb "to increase", and that's OK. That's an artificial requirement that will cause you get sentences incorrect on the GMAT SC.

Similarly, I would say the sentence
Joe became the CFO of the company, increasing his pay significantly.
is perfectly correct for the same reason.

There's nothing incorrect about inserting an extra noun before the participle for clarity. That becomes necessary if there's any ambiguity. In this sentence, the subject of "increasing" can't be "Joe" or "the CFO" or "company", so it's clear that "increasing" modifies the clause overall. If there's any ambiguity, then stick in a noun that will be the subject of the participial verb.

In the MGMAT Volume 8 book on SC, on p. 90, they give the example sentence:
Crime has recently decreased in our neighborhood, leading to a rise in property values.
They cite this as a correct example of a participle modifying a clause. Again, notice the "participle needs a noun subject" rule would get you in trouble with this sentence. Again, notice that there's zero ambiguity --- the subject of "leading" could not possibly be "crime" or "neighborhood". This sentence would be correct on the GMAT.

BTW, in the sentence
Sachin Tendulkar played an exceptionally outstanding innings, making the team win gloriously.
(a) "innings" is plural, so the singular article "an" is incorrect.
(b) the words "exceptionally outstanding" are redundant --- this is characteristic of the redundancy the GMAT likes to put in incorrect answers on the sentence correction.
(c) I'm not sure in what sport it would make sense to talk about someone playing innings well -- certainly for American baseball, this would sound very peculiar.
(d) the word "gloriously" is completely incorrect --- it sounds absurd in the context of a GMAT. The words "glory" and "glorious" are used rarely outside of religious contexts or contexts that have a connotation of religion (i.e. divine right of kings).
(e) "making the team win" ---- this sounds too colloquial and informal, not characteristic of the formality on the GMAT. Here is a revision that is much closer to what the GMAT would consider correct:
Sachin Tendulkar played exceptionally well in the late innings, contributing to the team's overwhelming victory.

Here's a related article, about the limits of pronouns:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/gmat-sente ... te-a-word/

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)


GMATNinja egmat
Can you please comment regarding the above discussion, especially on the examples mentioned by EGMAT and contradicted by Mike?
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Re: Verb+ing Modifier - Conceptual Clarity   [#permalink] 01 Dec 2019, 02:24

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