Grammar Guide: the usage of “those”

Confused about how “those” works on the SAT, ACT, GRE, or GMAT? Let’s take a look at a question from Manhattan GMAT that uses this word!

Salt deposits and moisture threaten to destroy the Mohenjo-Daro excavation in Pakistan, the site of an ancient civilization that flourished at the same time as the civilizations in the Nile delta and the river valleys of Tigris and Euphrates.

A) that flourished at the same time as the civilizations
B) that had flourished at the same time as had the civilizations
C) that flourished at the same time those had
D) flourishing at the same time as those did
E) flourishing at the same time as those were

In general, “those” is the plural of “that.” It’s in a group called “determiners” along with “this”, “that”, “these”, “those,” “here” and there that are technically pronouns but often function more like adjectives.

For C, D, and E, “those” is meant to mean something like “the ones” and could be used as a pronoun to replace a plural antecedent if there was one in the sentence, and if the construction was parallel.

The correct answer is (A).


Spotting Consistent Ideas in GRE Sentence Equivalence

Sentence Equivalence is one of the newer GRE Verbal question types (replacing the older Sentence Completions). Like Sentence Completions, Sentence Equivalence consists of one sentence with one blank. Unlike Sentence Completions, there are two correct answers and not one, and you must get both to get the question correct.

To solve Sentence Equivalence, you’ll need to know 1) the relationship of the blank to the rest of the sentence, and 2) the meaning of the entire sentence. There are approximately 8 total Sentence Equivalence questions on the GRE, 4 on each Verbal section. These questions should take approximately 1 minute each.

Consistent Ideas is one of the four types of Sentence Equivalence questions. In Consistent Ideas questions, the blank will mirror or extent the logic of the rest of the sentence. Like it sounds, the blank will continue the ideas of the rest of the sentence. You’ll be able to recognize this type because of certain constructions.

Here are common “Consistent Ideas” key words and phrases to look out for: for this reason, again, to reiterate, along with, in addition, for example, to illustrate, thus, likewise, similarly, since, also, and, next, as well as, as a result, to sum up, concluding, additionally, etc.

Let’s look at an example Sentence Equivalence question:

1. As a teacher of creative writing, Mercedes demanded her students’ best work; likewise, her own fiction was often subjected to ———– analysis by those same students.

A. scrupulous
B. equitable
C. reverent
D. spiteful
E. malicious
F. rigorous

We know this is a Sentence Equivalence Consistent Ideas question because of the keyword “likewise.” The semicolon tells us the second half of the sentence will mirror the logic of the first half. The key phrase is “demanded” which explains the relationship. We can predict something like “demanding” for the blank. We need a word that is neither positive nor negative, but shows a strong, exacting demand.

GMAT / GRE Reading Comp: Primary Purpose

“Primary purpose” questions on the GRE and GMAT ask you to understand the author’s overall intention. Try this practice passage on your own, then read further down for a couple questions, their answers and a full explanation!

Behavior science courses should be gaining prominence in business
school curricula. Recent theoretical work convincingly shows why behav-
ioral factors such as organizational culture and employee relations are
among the few remaining sources of sustainable competitive advantage in
modern organizations. Furthermore, (10) empirical evidence demonstrates
clear linkages between human resource (HR) practices based in
the behavioral sciences and various aspects of a firm’s financial success.

Additionally, some of the world’s most successful organizations have made
unique HR practices a core element of their overall business strategies.

Yet the behavior sciences are struggling for credibility in many
business schools. Surveys show that business students often regard
behavioral studies as peripheral to the mainstream business curriculum.
This perception can be explained by the fact that business students, hoping
to increase their attractiveness to prospective employers, are highly
sensitive to business norms and practices, and current business
practices have generally been moving away from an emphasis on
understanding human behavior and toward more mechanistic organiza-
tional models. Furthermore, the status of HR professionals within
organizations tends to be lower than that of other executives.
Students’ perceptions would matter less if business schools
were not increasingly dependent on external funding-form legislatures,
businesses, and private foundations- for survival. Concerned with their
institutions’ ability to attract funding, administrators are increasingly tar-
getting low-enrollment courses and degree programs for elimination.

Question #1: The primary purpose of the passage is to

A. propose a particular change to business school curricula
B. characterize students’ perceptions of business school curricula
C. predict the consequences of a particular change in business school curricula
D. challenge one explanation for the failure to adopt a particular change in business school curricula
E. identify factors that have affected the prestige of a particular field in business school curricular

Question #2: The author of the passage mentions “empirical evidence” primarily in order to

A. question the value of certain commonly used HR practices
B. illustrate a point about the methodology behind recent theoretical work in the behavioral sciences
C. support a claim about the importance that business schools should place on courses in the behavioral sciences
D. draw a distinction between two different factors that affect the financial success of a business
E. explain how the behavioral sciences have shaped HR practices in some business organizations

Here’s how I broke down the passage (your style of note-taking might be different, and that’s perfectly okay):

Topic: Behavior science
Scope: challenges facing B.s.
Author’s pov: It should be gaining prominence. +

Paragraph 1: to state that B.s. should be gaining prominence and give 2 reasons:
(1. organization culture + employee relations are important)
(2. HR based in B.s = $$$)

Paragraph 2: to add a 3rd reason
(3. successful orgs use that HR)

Paragraph 3 : to give 2 reasons why B.s. is struggling
(1. students seem B.s as peripheral b/c they focus on the norms)
(2. HR professionals are low status).

Paragraph 4: to add a 3rd reason why B.s. is struggling
(3. $$ comes from external sources; courses get cut if not popular)

OVERALL PURPOSE: to explain why B.s. should be prominent & explain challenges it faces

Since this is a “primary purpose” question, we must especially make sure to eliminate answer choices that ARE in the passage, but are not “primary” as well as choices that are outside the scope of the author’s focus.

A. Out of Scope. The curricula itself is not the focus.
B. Misused Detail. While this is mentioned in the passage, it isn’t the overall purpose.
C. Incorrect. The “consequences” are not specifically mentioned, nor are particular changes described.
D. Incorrect. The author does not challenge one explanation – he offers a variety of reasons why B.s is not getting its due, but does not “challenge” any of them, or suggest one carries more weight than the others and even if you interpreted it to refer to the 2nd paragraph, this would not be the focus of the ENTIRE passage.
E. CORRECT! The passage focuses on why B.s. is being challenged.

For the second question, this is a Function question. When a question asks WHY the author uses one aspect of the paragraph, go back and review the function of the ENTIRE paragraph. After all, don’t details all serve to support the main goal of their containing paragraphs?

We could re-word the question as, “WHY does the author use “empirical evidence?” To make a prediction, all we need to do is return to our notes. We said that he used it as an example of why B.s SHOULD be gaining prominence. Now that we have our prediction, the answer is clearly (C).


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).


4 Steps for Two-Blank Sentence Equivalence Questions

One the Revised GRE, Sentence Equivalence questions contain one, two, or three blanks. Two of the answer choices (out of six presented on the GRE) will be correct, and you will need to understand both the meaning of the sentence/s as a whole and be able to identify the clues in the sentence to find the correct blanks. For better scores on GRE Verbal questions like these, follow these easy tips on your GRE Test Day!

STEP 1: Write down the keywords. As you read the sentence, you will be on the lookout for keywords, words that describe the blank or relate to the overall flow of the sentence (transition words). Write them down! It may seem redundant, but the act of writing them down will slow down your impulses and force your brain to think critically. What do the words tell you about the blank?

STEP 2: Write down a prediction for the easiest blank. Once you’ve analyzed the keywords and punctuation of a sentence, you can come up with a prediction for the blank which seems the most straightforward to you. It doesn’t have to be a great prediction, but make sure you do write something down. Even a simple prediction like, “a negative word” or “something like sad” is great! Don’t let yourself read the answer choices without a written-down prediction. If you don’t write it down, you will likely forget it as you read the answer choices.

STEP 3: Eliminate answer choices based on that prediction. Instead of scanning the answers quickly looking for the correct one, carefully move through the choices from A to F, eliminating the answer choices that could not possible match your prediction. Only worry about scanning the column for the blank you predicted for – don’t even read the other words.

STEP 4: Plug in for the remaining blank, if necessary. If you have more than two answer choices left after eliminating, then plug them into the sentence to see which ones are correct. Remember that for Sentence Equivalence, there will be two correct answers!


How to Solve 1-Blank GRE Sentence Equivalence Questions

In Sentence Equivalence questions on the New GRE, the blank(s) will always have a relationship to the rest of the sentence. We identify keywords because it helps us understand this relationship. Some blanks will have a “defining” relationship, meaning the blank will be defined by the rest of the sentence, so you’ll look for a word to embody the description. Other blanks will have a “contrasting” relationship, and you’ll need to choose the word that provides the best contrast to the describing keywords.

On harder Sentence Equivalence, you will often see a more complex relationship, such as “causation.” Let’s see an example of how we can identify keywords to show us the relationship, and allow us to predict for the blank.

Although appliance manufacturers would have you believe otherwise, items like blenders and toasters are not requirements for the creation of a delicious meal; for centuries, our ancestors cooked without these modern _______.

A) conveniences
B) hindrances
C) requisitions
D) creeds
E) incidents
F) utilities

Let’s pick out the keywords:

Although appliance manufacturers would have you believe otherwise, items like blenders and toasters are not requirements for the creation of a delicious meal; for centuries, our ancestors cooked without these modern _______.

“Although” is a common keyword that introduces a contrast. The manufacturers want you to believe the “blenders and toasters” ARE requirements. The word “these” in the second clause refers back to the “blenders and toasters” in the first clause. The clauses here contrast with each other, but the blank is going to be a word that describes “blenders and toasters.” A good prediction would be a word like “appliances.” Essentially, a word that could describe an tangible object.

Scanning the answer choices, B, C, D, and E do not refer to tangible objects. The correct answers must be A and F. After identifying the keywords and making a prediction, we barely had to consider each answer choices. Process of elimination allows us to identify the correct choices (always two for sentence equivalence questions) quickly and effectively! There’s never a need to re-read the sentence 6 times with each answer choice plugged in.


How to Handle Short Passages on the GRE

One benefit to the Revised GRE test is that there are two short Verbal sections with 20 questions each instead of one long section. Another is that you can now freely move back and forth between questions within a given section. This means that you will be able to answer look at questions and choose the order in which you can answer them.

According to the official GRE website, “reading comprehension passages are drawn from the physical sciences, the biological sciences, the social sciences, the arts and humanities, and everyday topics, and are based on material found in books and periodicals, both academic and nonacademic. The passages range in length from one paragraph to four or five paragraphs.”

So how should your approach change from longer to shorter passages? For longer passages, it makes sense to thoroughly read and take notes on the important information presented (main idea, function of each paragraph, author’s point of view, etc.). Shorter passages, however, will usually only be accompanied by 1-2 questions.

Therefore it makes sense to read the questions first before looking at the passage. Quickly identify the pieces of information you’ll need to find. For example, let’s say the first question asks about the “Main Idea” and the second question asks about the Logic behind the author’s use of a specific detail. You will only have two tasks as you read: find the purpose, and find out why the detail is included. There’s no point in trying to focus on the author’s point of view if it isn’t necessary to answer any of the given questions! Make your job as simple as possible.

Creating these clear tasks for yourself is an effective strategy for shorter passages, since you don’t have as much text to decipher.