Tough GMAT: “Idiom” Sentence Correction – Problem of the Day!

Try this Idiom question from the Official Guide!

That educators have not anticipated the impact of microcomputer technology can hardly be said that it is their fault: Alvin Toffler, one of the most prominent students of the future, did not even mention microcomputers in Future Shock, published in 1970.

(A) That educators have not anticipated the impact of microcomputer technology can hardly be said that it is their fault
(B) That educators have not anticipated the impact of microcomputer technology can hardly be said to be at fault
(C) It can hardly be said that it is the fault of educators who have not anticipated the impact of microcomputer technology
(D) It can hardly be said that educators are at fault for not anticipating the impact of microcomputer technology
(E) The fact that educators are at fault for not anticipating the impact of microcomputer technology can hardly be said


Think of “that educators have not anticipated the impact of microcomputers technology” as one long noun. We could replace it with something like “This fact….” If we did that the original sentence would read:

This fact can hardly be said that it is their fault.

“that it is their fault” is incorrect. Something is “said TO BE” something, idiomatically. It would need to read, “can hardly be said TO BE their fault.”

Thus, A is eliminated.

E takes a different approach. If we replaced the full noun again with “this fact,” the sentence would read: “This fact can hardly be said.” This meaning is unclear. The focus is not that this fact literally can’t be said; the focus is that there are no grounds for saying the educators are at fault.

Looking at D, it makes it very clear what “can hardly be said” by neatly putting the noun-verb “educators are” after the “that.” Everything starting with “for…” is a long prepositional phrase that we could eliminate.

D would then read: “It can hardly be said that it is the fault of educators.” Clear, concise, logical. The correct answer is (D).

Grammar Guide: The Difference Between a Hyphen and a Dash

Occasionally on the GRE or GMAT, you’ll see hyphens and dashes. How can you recognize them and use them properly?

There are two uses for a dash:

1. To indicate a break in thought.

Example: I forget which way to go- wait, now I remember!

Here the dash functions like a semicolon. Notice there is just ONE dash.

2. To set off a parenthetical phrase.

Example: My cousin Mary – whom you have never met – saw the movie “Gravity” last night.

Here the dashes function like commas setting apart non-essential information. Notice there are TWO dashes.

A hyphen and a dash look exactly the same, but are used differently:

Dash = Between words

Hyphen = Between syllables

Let’s look at an SC question involving this punctuation:

Archaeologists in Egypt have excavated a 5,000-year-old wooden hull that is the earliest surviving example of example of a “built” boat-in other words, a boat constructed out of planks fitted together-and that thus represents a major
advance, in terms of boat-building technology, over the dugout logs and reed vessels of more ancient vintage.

A. together-and that thus represents
B. together-and this has represented
C. together, and it represents
D. together that was representing
E. together to represent

Here, this dash is used correctly. The answer is (A).

5 Tips for Completely Underlined GMAT Sentence Correction Q’s

Sometimes you see on your GMAT practice test a difficult Sentence Correction that has the entire sentence underlined. This means you can’t fall back on any part of the sentence, or trust that any phrase, clause, or single word is correct. So how should you approach these types of GMAT questions? Even with a high intimidation-factor, we can “attack” these challenging SC’s with these 5 tips.

1. Always start with the Subject/Verb. Begin by identifying the main subject and the predicate verb. The subject is the noun that is doing the action of the sentence. It may not always be the first noun you see in the sentence. The predicate verb is the main action of the sentence that is being done by the subject. There could be many verbs in the sentence, so don’t be fooled!

2. Chunk It Out. Parse out the rest of the sentence. Is there a long prepositional phrase, a lot of adjectives, relative clauses that begin with “that,” etc. You should also look for common “splits” like broken parallelism or verb issues. If you need to use your scratch pad to write out the sentence in shorthand and draw marks around parts of it, go for it!

3. Focus on Modifiers. These sentences are long because they have a lot of added clauses. See if you can mentally “eliminate” them to focus on the bare bones of the sentence. Make sure you understand how each modifier relates to the rest of the sentence. Is it clear what it is modifying? Does it help or hinder the meaning?

4. Slow down! Plan to spend at least 10 extra seconds on these questions. Don’t rush through them, as the answer choices may be closer together. Remember to look for subtle differences in style. The GMAT loves to include active voice v. passive voice in harder SC questions.

5. Before you select your answer, re-read the whole sentence. Check to make sure the meaning is unambiguous and that it’s clear, despite its length.

Check out this Sentence Correction question:

The spending on durable goods such as household appliances and automobiles is a cyclical pattern that depends on if the overall economy is healthy, whereas non-durable goods like food and shelter remain constant regardless of the economy.

(A) The spending on durable goods such as household appliances and automobiles is a cyclical pattern that depends on if the overall economy is healthy, whereas non-durable goods such as food and shelter remain constant regardless of the economy.

(B) Regardless of the economy, spending on non-durable goods such as food and shelter remains constant even though spending on durable goods such as household appliances and automobiles is a cyclical pattern that depends on whether the overall economy is healthy.

(C) Spending on durable goods such as household appliance and automobiles follows a cyclical pattern that depends on the health of the overall economy, whereas spending on non-durable goods such as food and shelter remains constant regardless of the economy’s health.

(D) Whether the overall economy is healthy determines the cyclical pattern of spending on durable goods such as household appliances and automobiles, whereas non-durable spending such as food and shelter remains constant regardless of the economy.

(E) The cyclical pattern of spending on durable goods such as household appliances and automobiles depends on whether the overall economy is healthy but non-durable goods such as food and shelter remain constant regardless of the economy.

SC
We can see that we have (1) awkward phrasing in “depends on if” and (2) an unparallel comparison between “the spending” and “non-durable goods.” B, D, and E lack the required parallelism. C is clear grammatically, stylistically, and has a straightforward meaning. The correct answer is (C).

GMAT: Sentence Correction Question of the Day!

Try this stumper from Kaplan on your own, then check your work!

Question:

The word “December” is derived from the Latin word for “ten,” which seems odd considering it’s the twelfth month, but when you realize that the earliest Roman calendar had just ten months, it all makes perfect sense.

A. The word “December” is derived from the Latin word for “ten,” which seems odd considering it’s the twelfth month, but when you realize that the earliest Roman calendar had just ten months, it all makes perfect sense.

B. It seems odd that the name of the twelfth month of the year, “December,” is derived from the Latin word for “ten,” until you realize that the earliest Roman calendar had just ten months.

C. The word “December” is derived from the Latin word for “ten,” which seems odd considering it’s the twelfth month, but when you realized that the earliest Roman calendar had just ten months, it all makes perfect sense.

D. It makes perfect sense that the word “December” is derived from the Latin word for “ten,” which seems odd considering it’s the twelfth month, but the earliest Roman calendar had just ten months, so it’s logical.

E. Since December is the twelfth month of our calendar year, it seems odd that the word “December” is derived from the Latin word for “ten,” but when you realize that the earliest Roman calendar had just ten months, it all makes perfect sense.

Explanation:

So what’s the easiest way to eliminate here? By noticing that the pronoun “it’s” it ambiguous since it could refer to either “December” or “ten” so A, C, and D are out. Between B and E, E is clearly the more wordy and muddled choice meaning-wise. B is correct.

GMAT Sentence Correction: Infinitive v. Participle

To sneeze, to smash, to cry, to shriek, to jump, to dunk, to read, to eat, to slurp— all of these are infinitives. An infinitive will almost always begin with “to.” A participle is a verb form used as an adjective. A participle ending in “-ing” is called a present participle. Let’s take a look at a GMAT question involving these concepts!

The American Medical Association has argued that the rapidly rising costs associated with malpractice litigation are driving doctors from the profession and that reform of the tort system is imperative for bringing malpractice insurance premiums under control.

(A) that reform of the tort system is imperative for bringing malpractice insurance premiums
(B) that reform of the tort system is imperative if malpractice insurance premiums are to be brought
(C) that reform of the tort system is imperative to bring malpractice insurance premiums
(D) reform of the tort system is necessary in bringing malpractice insurance premiums
(E) the tort system needs to be reformed so that malpractice insurance premiums are brought

In constructions like this, the GMAT prefers the infinitive form to the participle form. Usually the phrase “imperative FOR” is followed by a noun.

“It is imperative FOR the success of the company that this merger be successful.”

Following “imperative FOR” with a participle verb is awkward.

“It is imperative FOR succeeding…” = Not Good

Generally, unless the participle is introducing a new clause, the GMAT prefers the infinitive.

If for no other reason, notice that “to bring” is slightly shorter (and thus more concise) than “for bringing.” The correct answer is (C)