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# While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other

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Magoosh GMAT Instructor
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 4668
Re: While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other [#permalink]

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22 Sep 2016, 11:02
1
1
zoezhuyan wrote:
thanks so much.

cost of running A
is the same as
cost of running B
-- parallelism: cost (of doing ) & cost (of doing )

cost of running A
is the same as
cost of B
-- illogical because parallelism : cost (of doing) & cost of (thing)

cost of running A
is the same as
cost for B = cost of running B
--- parallelism: cost (of doing ) & cost (of doing )

my understanding is right?

thanks a lot
have a nice day
>_~

Dear zoezhuyan,

I'm happy to respond. I see that my intelligent colleague sayantanc2k already gave you a good response. I just want to add a little more.

Think about what parallelism is. Many students mistakenly believe that parallelism is a grammatical structure. It's not. It's a logical structure, a logical matching pattern, and the grammar simply mirrors the logic. In fact, the grammar has only to match enough to make the logic clear. Sometimes, additional matching creates a strong rhetorical effect, but there is absolutely no requirement that parallelism should involve lockstep precision between the two branches down to the last detail.

cost of X and the cost of Y
That's a very sensible pattern of matching: the parallel grammar makes clear the logic.

Now, suppose X is a noun and Y is a gerund phrase.
the cost of auto insurance and the cost of getting a speeding ticket
The real question is whether these are logically parallel? Are these two costs of the same category, the kind we would compare and contrast? Yes! A person in the real world might have make one payment for her auto insurance and another payment because she got a speeding ticket. These are logically similar, so the parallelism works. The fact that we have the matching "cost of" pair is enough to indicate the pattern of matching: that's all the grammatical matching we need. It doesn't matter at all that the X & Y are different parts of speech.

By contrast, we could have the same parts of speech, two nouns, and the parallelism could be complete nonsense:
I made dinner with the leftovers in the refrigerator and with my friend Chris.
Either "with" statement alone would be fine, but together they are a train wreck. The first "with" suggest the materials and the second one suggest accompaniment. These are NOT logically parallel at all, even though the grammar is the same.

On the GMAT SC, you can't afford to pay attention only to the grammar. Grammar and logic and rhetoric are three equally important strands.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other [#permalink]

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22 Sep 2016, 23:10
mikemcgarry wrote:
I'm happy to respond. I see that my intelligent colleague sayantanc2k already gave you a good response. I just want to add a little more.

Think about what parallelism is. Many students mistakenly believe that parallelism is a grammatical structure. It's not. It's a logical structure, a logical matching pattern, and the grammar simply mirrors the logic. In fact, the grammar has only to match enough to make the logic clear. Sometimes, additional matching creates a strong rhetorical effect, but there is absolutely no requirement that parallelism should involve lockstep precision between the two branches down to the last detail.

cost of X and the cost of Y
That's a very sensible pattern of matching: the parallel grammar makes clear the logic.

Now, suppose X is a noun and Y is a gerund phrase.
the cost of auto insurance and the cost of getting a speeding ticket
The real question is whether these are logically parallel? Are these two costs of the same category, the kind we would compare and contrast? Yes! A person in the real world might have make one payment for her auto insurance and another payment because she got a speeding ticket. These are logically similar, so the parallelism works. The fact that we have the matching "cost of" pair is enough to indicate the pattern of matching: that's all the grammatical matching we need. It doesn't matter at all that the X & Y are different parts of speech.

By contrast, we could have the same parts of speech, two nouns, and the parallelism could be complete nonsense:
I made dinner with the leftovers in the refrigerator and with my friend Chris.
Either "with" statement alone would be fine, but together they are a train wreck. The first "with" suggest the materials and the second one suggest accompaniment. These are NOT logically parallel at all, even though the grammar is the same.

On the GMAT SC, you can't afford to pay attention only to the grammar. Grammar and logic and rhetoric are three equally important strands.

Does all this make sense?
Mike

thanks so much Mike

you are right, I pay more attention to grammar parallelism. because I am not native speaker, to understand the sentence is a little harder for me.

for this case, I am sunk in the prep "for",
but I am afraid I need your further explanation:

mikemcgarry wrote:
(1a) The cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as the cost of running other types of power plants. = wordy but OK
(1b) The cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as that of running other types of power plants. = not much better
Because of the phrasing, it's not immediately obvious how to omit repeated words to shorten this more without introducing ambiguity or awkwardness. This is not a structure that lends itself to elegant revisions.

(2a) It costs about the same to run nuclear plants as it costs to run other types of power plants. = correct but too wordy
(2b) It costs about the same to run nuclear plants as to run other types of power plants. = better, with the common words "to run" dropped in the second branch.
(2c) It costs about the same to run nuclear plants as for other types of power plants. = even more elegant: this is what the GMAT loves!

Now, look at the structure in the OA:
(3a) "... the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as the cost of running other types of power plants ..." = that's the full version. That's grammatically correct but a rhetorical disaster! It reeks of redundancy! We need to drop some of the repeated words.
(3b) "... the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as that of running other types of power plants ..." = only slightly better
(3b) "... the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as for other types of power plants ..." = an elegant gem! Again, this is what the GMAT loves, and this is the version in the OA.

The very hard thing about this is that when we look at parallelism of a complex structure, it is up to us, the readers, to infer which repeated elements from the first branch have been omitted in the second branch. We get (2c) or (3c) printed on the page and we have to understand that everything in (2a) or (3a) is implicit in that.

Does all this make sense?
Mike

after reading this thread, I got an idea that both 2c and 3c are correct.

mikemcgarry wrote:

(B) While the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as it is for other types of power plants
This is perfectly correct. A perfect comparison. This, of course, is the OA.

(C) Even though it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as for it costs to run other types of power plants
This one has the same structure, but because what comes before is different, the structure is problematic here. The preposition "for" is not needed here. A different set of words would be implied.

(D) It costs about the same to run nuclear plants as for it costs to run other types of power plants
Same problem as (C).
both option C and D are incorrect, because "for" is unnecessary.

I have no idea about difference between 2C,3C and C,D,

would you please clarify for me ?

another question :
as you said:
mikemcgarry wrote:

(B) While the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as it is for other types of power plants
This is perfectly correct. A perfect comparison. This, of course, is the OA.

(C) Even though it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as for it costs to run other types of power plants
This one has the same structure, but because what comes before is different, the structure is problematic here. The preposition "for" is not needed here. A different set of words would be implied.

(D) It costs about the same to run nuclear plants as for it costs to run other types of power plants
Same problem as (C).

why not

(C) Even though it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as it costs to runfor other types of power plants
(D) It costs about the same to run nuclear plants as it costs to run forother types of power plants

have a nice day
>_~
Magoosh GMAT Instructor
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 4668
Re: While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other [#permalink]

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23 Sep 2016, 13:48
zoezhuyan wrote:
thanks so much Mike

you are right, I pay more attention to grammar parallelism. because I am not native speaker, to understand the sentence is a little harder for me.

for this case, I am sunk in the prep "for",
but I am afraid I need your further explanation:

mikemcgarry wrote:
(2c) It costs about the same to run nuclear plants as for other types of power plants. = even more elegant: this is what the GMAT loves!

(3c) "... the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as for other types of power plants ..." = an elegant gem! Again, this is what the GMAT loves, and this is the version in the OA.

after reading this thread, I got an idea that both 2c and 3c are correct.

Dear zoezhuyan,
I'm happy to respond. Yes, (2c) and (3c) are correct. This construction is subtle and sophisticated: I certainly can understand why it would be puzzling to someone who has learned English as a second language!

Of course, part of what is hard is that common words have been omitted in the second branch of the parallelism and we have figure out what those are. See:
Dropping Common Words in Parallel on the GMAT

Let's look at these with the extra words put back in.

The version in (B)
(B expanded) ... the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as the cost is for other types of power plants...
This is 100% correct. Why is "for" used in this construction? It sounds so right to a native ear, but it's hard to put this in words. Sometimes, the preposition "for" is used for a separate situation or case, for the experience of another person or the process of another object.
I love opera, but the experience is not the same for her.
Americans stridently clamor for individual liberties, but for the Chinese, responsibilities to the family and to the country are more meaningful.
The lion struts across the Serengeti as if it owns the place, but for the gazelle, this large plain is forever a precarious place of danger.
We can reheat leftovers, but for frying food, we need a stove top.
Once again, this is a sophisticated structure, used only in very high quality writing.
This is the construction used in (B). This compares two nouns, "cost" to "cost." If we drop the implied extra words, we get:
(B) ... the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as for other types of power plants ....
That's the OA.

The version in (C) & (D), instead of the noun "cost" we use the verb "it cost." Here are the words in (C) and in (D)
(CD) ... it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as for other types of power plants...
This involves the empty "it" construction: the subject of the verb "costs" is the infinitive "to run" after the verb. I would say that I unfairly criticized this construction in one of the posts above. This is fine. The expanded version is:
...it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as it costs for other types of power plants ...
That part of (C) & (D) is correct, but those two have other problems!

In (C), both clauses begin with "it" but it's not the same "it." Typically, when the same pronoun opens the two clauses of a sentence, this pronoun has the same reference. This is not the case at all in (C), and that mismatch creates a very awkward sentence.

In (D), I would say everything up to the first comma is fine, but the "they" is ambiguous, and "stemming from" is an extremely awkward construction.

Does all this make sense now, my friend?

Have a wonderful weekend.

Mike
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Re: While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other [#permalink]

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24 Sep 2016, 18:18
hi, in option B, im confused with what 'they' refers to. As pronouns can refer to antecedent in previous clauses it can either refer to nuclear plants or 'other plants'. then, it makes this sentence also wrong. please explain

i know that verb +ing modifier preceded with comma and clause modifies the entire clause before it. but, when the preceding clauses has conjunction. does it still modify the preceding clause? like in this case -whereas the electricity they generate is more expensive, stemming from the fixed costs of building nuclear plants.
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Re: While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other [#permalink]

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25 Sep 2016, 17:50
1
Dear zoezhuyan,

My friend, I responded to your request on that page:
DeepikaV wrote:
hi, in option B, im confused with what 'they' refers to. As pronouns can refer to antecedent in previous clauses it can either refer to nuclear plants or 'other plants'. then, it makes this sentence also wrong. please explain

i know that verb +ing modifier preceded with comma and clause modifies the entire clause before it. but, when the preceding clauses has conjunction. does it still modify the preceding clause? like in this case -whereas the electricity they generate is more expensive, stemming from the fixed costs of building nuclear plants.

Dear DeepikaV,

I'm happy to respond. Here's (B), the OA.
While the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as for other types of power plants, the fixed costs that stem from building nuclear plants make the electricity they generate more expensive.
This is 100% correct.

In this sentence, the word "while" begins a dependent clause, and the comma marks the end of the dependent clause and the beginning of the independent clause.

My friend, what determines the antecedent of a pronoun is a sophisticated matter. It is determined by a combination of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. If you are only looking at the level of grammar, and ignoring logic and rhetoric, you will miss 2/3 of what is happening in any SC sentence.

As a general grammar guideline, if there is a single noun that could be in antecedent of the pronoun that is by far the nearest noun to it, in the same clause, then we never need to look at the other clause. Look at the independent clause, everything after the comma. There is only one plural noun, "nuclear plants," and all other plural nouns are further away and in another clause. Just at the level of grammar, this is a slam-dunk: the closest appropriate noun is the antecedent. Like the OA of many other GMAT SC problems, this is correct and valid at many different levels.

Furthermore, consider at the level of rhetoric: what is the subject of this sentence? The subject, the topic at hand, is "nuclear plants." That's the focus of the whole sentence. Sometimes great rhetorical focus can make up for a little grammatical ambiguity. For example, if two clauses appear in the sentence, and the subject of the first is the focus of the sentence, then a pronoun subject for the second clause almost always refers back to this original subject, even if other potential antecedents were intervening. In this sentence, though, there is no grammatical ambiguity whatsoever, and the rhetorical focus of the sentence simply strengthens the already clear pronoun-antecedent relationship.

My friend, I would urge you not to use the terminology "VERB-ing." That is sloppy imprecise language, and imprecise language leads to imprecise thought. In fact, a verb with the -ing suffix may be playing one of three different roles:
1) a participle
2) a gerund
3) part of a progressive tense verb
Those are the proper terms to use.

If we have a clause, then a comma, then a participle, the participle often modifies the whole clause before it--often, but not always. You quoted part of (D) ...whereas the electricity they generate is more expensive, stemming from the fixed costs of building nuclear plants
In (D), the antecedent of the pronoun "they" is less clear: that's one problem with (D). Also, the construction "stemming from" to explain a cause is very casual and awkward. This might appear in colloquial English, but in the formal writing of the GMAT, this is wrong. As to your question, yes, "stemming" is attempting to modify the action of the previous clause, purporting to give an explanation of why the electricity is more expensive. Choice (D) is wrong.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other [#permalink]

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25 Sep 2016, 18:16
mikemcgarry,

Thank you so much for the elaborate post. So, comma, then participle can modify a preceding clause starting with the conjunction. isn't ?
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Re: While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other [#permalink]

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26 Sep 2016, 11:05
DeepikaV wrote:
mikemcgarry,

Thank you so much for the elaborate post. So, comma, then participle can modify a preceding clause starting with the conjunction. isn't ?

Dear DeepikaV,

My friend, the short answer is: it depends. I would have to see contextual examples, in official questions, to give an answer. There's no black & white rule here.

My friend, students sometimes have the mistaken idea that the way to achieve SC mastery is to assembly some mythical "complete set" of rules. That approach is impossible, because especially in the more sophisticated material, everything is context. Developing SC mastery certainly involves learning the important grammar & idiom rules, but it also involves honing one's intuition for the language. One builds deep intuition only through a habit of reading. See this blog:
How to Improve Your GMAT Verbal Score

Does this make sense?
Mike
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Re: While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other [#permalink]

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13 Nov 2016, 10:01
I understand that in A (after the comma) is wrong. But what's wrong with the comparison, can't it be:

While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as [it costs to run] other types of power plants?
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Re: While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other [#permalink]

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13 Nov 2016, 13:11
1
kivalo wrote:
I understand that in A (after the comma) is wrong. But what's wrong with the comparison, can't it be:

While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as [it costs to run] other types of power plants?

There is no comparison error in option A. In addition to the error you stated, there are three more errors in the option:
1. The relative pronoun "that" wrongly refers to " plants" - it should refer to "fixed costs".
2. The verb "makes" should be singular because its subject is "that" that should refer to "fixed costs".
3. The pronoun "them" has no antecedent - generating electricity is expensive for power plants (them) is not meaningful.
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Re: While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other [#permalink]

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09 Dec 2016, 09:19
Can someone please explain to me why the pronounce "they" in B has only one antecedent? Can "fixed costs" refer to the antecedent of "they" in the sentence too?

Thank you
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Re: While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other [#permalink]

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09 Dec 2016, 17:11
Pasorns wrote:
Can someone please explain to me why the pronounce "they" in B has only one antecedent? Can "fixed costs" refer to the antecedent of "they" in the sentence too?

Thank you

Dear Pasorns,

I'm happy to respond. Here's (B), the OA:
While the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as for other types of power plants, the fixed costs that stem from building nuclear plants make the electricity they generate more expensive.

As a general rule, if there are multiple possible target nouns, a pronoun can refer to the nearest noun without ambiguity. Here, the writer deliberately repeated the words "nuclear plants" in the second half of the sentence, because using a pronoun there would have been too ambiguous. Even though this repetition is logically necessary, the very fact that these words are repeated--an exceptionally rare occurrence in a GMAT SC sentence!--gives them a kind rhetorical significance which makes even clearer the pronoun-antecedent relationship.

The pronoun-antecedent relationship is multilayered, involving grammar, rhetoric, and logic. In an ideal scenario, all three of those should work together, as they do in this OA.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other [#permalink]

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05 May 2017, 01:37
macjas wrote:
The Official Guide for GMAT Review 2015

Practice Question
Question No.: SC 107
Page: 691

While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other types of power plants, it is the fixed costs that stem from building nuclear plants that makes it more expensive for them to generate electricity.

(A) While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other types of power plants, it is the fixed costs that stem from building nuclear plants that makes it more expensive for them to generate electricity.

(B) While the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as for other types of power plants, the fixed costs that stem from building nuclear plants make the electricity they generate more expensive.

(C) Even though it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as for other types of power plants, it is the fixed costs that stem from building nuclear plants that makes the electricity they generate more expensive.

(D) It costs about the same to run nuclear plants as for other types of power plants, whereas the electricity they generate is more expensive, stemming from the fixed costs of building nuclear plants.

(E) The cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as other types of power plants, but the electricity they generate is made more expensive because of the fixed costs stemming from building nuclear plants.

First Glance

Yuck−the entire sentence is underlined. be prepared for anything, especially Structure, Modifier, Meaning, or Parallelism issues.

Issues

(1) Subject−Verb: makes

In the original sentence, the plural noun costs is the subject of the modifying clause that makes it more expensive. The verb makes, however, is singular.

Check the remaining answers for the same subject−verb mismatch. Answer (C) repeats the original error: costs....makes. The other answers don't maintain this error. Eliminate answers (A) and (C).

(2) Comparison: the same to do X as to do Y

The five answer choices contain small differences in the comparison structure:

(A) it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other types of plants
(B) the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as for other types of plants.
(C) it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as for other types of plants
(D) it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as for other types of plants
(E) the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as other types of plants

Each sentence requires the reader to carry some words of the comparison to both the X and the Y components. Answer (A0 is properly parallel and maintains an appropriate meaning: It costs the same to run X as [to run] Y. Likewise, in answer (B), the cost of running X is the same as [the cost] for [running] Y.

Answers (C), (D), and (E), however, are problematic. Answers (C) and (D) indicate that it costs the same to run X as [to run] Y. To run for plants? That's a big difference in meaning (and an illogical one). Answer (E) says that the cost of running X is the same as the cost running Y; the preposition (either of or for) is missing from the second part. Eliminate answers (C), (D), and (E).

(3) Meaning / Pronoun: it; they

The original sentence uses the pronoun it three times. Are all three instances clear, and do they refer to the same noun?

In the first instance, it is used as a dummy pronoun, as in the sentence "It is raining outside." This is an acceptable usage of it. Each additional instance of the word it in the sentence is also a dummy pronoun, but each refers to somewhat different abstract ideas. Such ambiguity is not preferred. Don't choose answer (A) unless all of the other answers contain clear error.

Answers (D) and (E) also introduce some ambiguity related to a pronoun. Both introduce nuclear plants versus other power plants and then use the word they. It's not clear until finishing the sentence that the pronoun they is intended to refer to the nuclear plants and not to the other power plants. Again, don't choose answer (D) or (E) unless all of the other answers contain clear errors.

Correct answer (B) offers a proper subject-verb pairing and a structure that accurately compares the two sets of costs. Furthermore, answer (B) doesn't contain even slight pronoun ambiguity.
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Re: While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other [#permalink]

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31 May 2017, 13:18
kivalo wrote:
I understand that in A (after the comma) is wrong. But what's wrong with the comparison, can't it be:

While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as [it costs to run] other types of power plants?

Hello kivalo,

I am not sure if your query still persists. Nonetheless, here is my response to your query.

When as is used to present comparison, it must be followed by a clause.

When as is followed just be a noun entity, then it presents the role of that noun entity. For example:

John is a big soccer fan, as is Jack.

In the above mentioned sentence, as has been used to present a comparison between John and Jack. They have been compared because they both are soccer fan. In the sentence, as is followed by a clause.

John joined the soccer team as a goalkeeper.

In the above mentioned sentence, as has been used to present the role of John. John joined the teams as a goalkeeper. Hence, John = goalkeeper.

Now let's take a look at the official sentence.

While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other types of power plants, it is the fixed costs that stem from building nuclear plants that makes it more expensive for them to generate electricity.

Please note that in this official sentence, as is followed by a noun phrase other types of power plants. Hence, the original sentence does not present comparison. It presents the role of nuclear plants. The sentence suggests that nuclear plants run as other types of power plants. This meaning certainly does not make any sense.

Now let's evaluate the correct answer choice B that says: While the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as for other types of power plants, the fixed costs that stem from building nuclear plants make the electricity they generate more expensive.

By looking at this choice, you may say in this choice too, as is not followed by a clause. It is rather followed by a prepositional phrase for other types of power plants. Then how does it present comparison.

Let me explain you the reason. See, choice B can be written in the following way:

While the cost of running nuclear plants is about the same as the cost is for running other types of power plants, the fixed costs that stem from building nuclear plants make the electricity they generate more expensive.

Since, the clause the cost is is common before and after as, it has been kept understood after as. So is the word running. The preposition for does the job of presenting the intended comparison. If we remove this preposition after as, then again we will have the same structure as we see in Choice A. Again as will be followed by the noun entity other types of power plants, and the choice will present the role rather than comparison.

This topic is dealt in details with quite a few examples in our SC course in the concept named Usages of As.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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Re: While it costs about the same to run nuclear plants as other   [#permalink] 31 May 2017, 13:18

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