Some of our best students have their grammar rules down pat. They can talk for hours about adjective clauses, dangling modifiers, gerunds, and the subjunctive, but they’re so busy checking to make sure that all the sentence parts fit into place that they forget to read the sentence for meaning. Consider this example:
Most studies approximate that 70 percent of individuals with an amputation experience phantom sensations in the amputated limb, often in the form of pain that is identical to the pain that they typically experienced when the limb was still attached to the body but contorted in an unnatural position.
(A) that is identical to the pain that they typically experienced when the limb was still attached to the body but
(B) that is identical to the pain that they typically experienced when that limb was still attached to the body but that was
(C) that was identical to the pain that they typically experienced when the limb was still attached to the body but was
(D) identical to the pain that they typically experienced when that limb had still been attached to the body but that had been
(E) identical to the pain that they would...
GMAT Sentence correction tests the use of a preposition at the end of the sentence. From our school days, we are taught that this is a violation of Basic English grammar. But a common mistake that we make while spotting prepositions at the end of the sentence is our inability to differentiate between proposition & a phrasal verb.
Preposition as the name suggests is pre-position. It comes before a noun or a pronoun and connects to another word. However, there are exceptions where preposition comes after a noun or a pronoun.
Before we go into the usage of a preposition and how it changes the definition of these words from ‘preposition’ to ‘Phrasal Verb’, here is a list of some of the common Preposition:
Modifiers are words or phrases that modify the subject. Common GMAT Sentence correction modifiers are phrases. You rarely see a word modifying the subject, unless it is the use of “only”, “almost”, and other adverbs.
1) Misplaced Modifiers
Misplaced modifiers are easy to spot, and test takers should master this concept before learning the nuances of GMAT Sentence correction.
Shortcut: Distance between Modifier and Subject & Distance of Subject after Comma
The easiest misplaced modifiers to spot are the ones where the distance between the subject and the modifier is suspiciously wide. The biggest giveaways for such sentences are the elements that come after the coma.
For Example: Climbing up the hills surrounding Avalanche Lake, flowers greeted us with their serene beauty.
The sentence sounds poetic, but there is a glaring error in the sentence.
Modifier: “Climbing up the hills”
Distance: 5 words
Distance of Subject after Comma: 2 Words
Elements coming after coma (,): Flowers (Object)
The modifier is not modifying the...
The question of using I or “Me” - the subject or the object has bemused even the best of the writers. The Authors of classic literature have made this mistake while other modern day writers have unknowingly mixed it up. Luckily, there is an easy way to check the rule, and spot errors in GMAT Sentence Correction.
Are you going to watch the IPL with her and I?
If the sentence sounds awkward, you are on to something.
Isn’t the sentence correct?
The subject here is my friend and I - both are addressed in the subject form “You” & “I”, but why does the sentence sound iffy?
For the native English speaking test taker, the error is obvious; “I” should be replaced with “me”
Correct: Are you going to watch the IPL with her and me?
Those who are yet to be convinced with the usage of “me” over “I,” follow the “Split the And” Rule.
Split the And Rule
With this rule, the sentence is split just before ‘and’ and rephrased with one subject or object.
The sentence Are you going to watch the IPL with her and I?...
“Whom vs Who” is a commonly tested concept in GMAT Sentence correction. Some experts advice test takers to listen to the sentence while others advice to focus on the ‘subject’. This rule is partly correct, but in a sentence with multiple potential subjects, applying the rule consistently is a challenge.
We have decoded the ‘Whom vs Who’ quandary with a simple formula that we picked up from Word Up! How to Write Powerful Sentences and Paragraphs.
Whom = Him = Her
Who = He = She
Remember this formula, replace the sentence, and then check if the sentence is correct.
Example: Who did you talk to?
Steps to check ‘Whom vs Who’ Formula
1) Applying the formula, replace “Who” with “He” or “She”
He did you talk to?
She did you talk to?
2) Rearrange the words to make sense
Did you talk to he?
Did you talk to She?
3) Check if the sentence sounds correct
Did you talk to he?
Possessive pronouns aren’t one of the biggest issues tested on the GMAT, but they do appear sometimes, and understanding them can not only potentially boost your Verbal score but can also make you a better writer, which will help in your AWA and your business school application process.
Just like other pronouns, possessive pronouns must have a clear antecedent, and must agree with that antecedent in gender and in number. There are a few tricky rules that come into play with possessive pronouns that you don’t see elsewhere, however.
1.No apostrophes needed
Turning a singular noun into a possessive noun usually involves the use of an apostrophe. For example, you might say “my neighbor’s car.” “Neighbor” is the noun, and to make it clear that the car belongs to your neighbor, you add an apostrophe and an “s”. If we replace “neighbor’s” with “his,” though, we don’t need an apostrophe to indicate possession. People often become particularly confused by the possessive form of one specific pronoun: it. The rule is...
It’s important to make sure that whenever you compare two things, those things are similar enough to make a comparison appropriate. For example, if you and a friend are both preparing for the GMAT, but your friend has the luxury of studying full-time while you have a job and a family competing for your attention, it’s not appropriate to compare your score improvements with those of your friend. Doing so would be an example of what is idiomatically called “comparing apples to oranges.”
The same thing is true on GMAT Sentence Correction questions. When items are being compared, they must be “apples to apples,” or parallel. For instance, take a look at the following example of a comparison:
Unlike most business students at her school, who attended classes full time, Carla’s schedule was so full that she could only attend part-time.
The sentence as written compares “most business students” to “Carla’s schedule.” Schedules are things, and business students are people; this is an apples-to-oranges comparison. In order to correct it, we should put the items being compared into parallel form, like this:
The above is no substitute for reading each sentence carefully, predicting what the correct answer might look like, and finding it in the answer choices of course. A little more on each of the decision points:
• Whole sentence underlined: There isn't much to say about this. With no part of the sentence left static, there's more to keep in mind; the other decisions still help.
• Answer start or end with a verb: Beware nouns close to the verb that may distract you from the real subject
• Answer start or end with a pronoun: Read carefully for the pronoun's antecedent (the word it's replacing in the sentence)
• Modifying phrase, set apart by comma(s): These phrases are easier to spot and work with when they start the sentence, since you need only look at the first thing after the first comma, but these modifying phrases can appear anywhere.
• Separation of subject and verb: The further apart they are, the more words there will be to confuse you. Try...
As you may know, diction refers to word choice. Usually, we use the term “diction” to describe an author’s tone or style - rarely does word choice have an effect on grammar. In some cases, though, it does. The GMAT Sentence Corrections will test you only on those occasions when word choice affects grammar, not when one word will be more effective than another.
1. Adverbs vs. Adjectives
While the subject of adverb usage may deserve its own category, the topic can be included under diction. Simply put, an adverb (those words that often end in ly) describes a verb, adjective, or another adverb, while an adjective describes a noun.
Adverb usage is the reason we say “I did well on my test” and not “I did good on my test;” well is an adverb while good is an adjective.
Example 1. Scientists dream of one day creating armies of nanobots, tiny robots smaller than a cell, that can enter the human body and use their practical unlimited access to find and repair defects in bodily structures.
I have been struggling with SC since the last 2 months. I have done the Manhattan GMAT SC Guide, as well as, the Official guide multiple times. But my scores are just not going up. I seem to know all the rules like the back of my hand but when it comes to the actual test I seem to make mistakes in the most obvious of places. What is worse is that even after practising so hard I don’t seem to figure out where I am going wrong. Is there anything – just about anything – I can do to improve my accuracy in SC?”
I perhaps have this question multiple times over the forums, over personal messages, over emails, and even in person. It intrigues me since I think the basic problem is for all to see but somehow we tend to not know this.
Let me start with a simple question. How many formulae are there in maths? Say about 100 in each topic MAX. So that makes it about 300 put together in arithmetic, geometry and algebra. Now let us say that you were to mug up these formulae, how long would it take? 50 a day, so maybe 6 days? A week at the max? So would that mean that in about a week’s time you will get 51?
Somehow when people are confronted with this logic it seems apparent the answer is NO. So why would you think that studying the rules of grammar are going to help you in Sentence Correction.
We’ve covered, in an earlier blog post, how to deal with the simplest formal logic statement: If X, then Y. But what happens when our necessary or sufficient factors become more complicated? Let’s look at a couple of examples, using the idea of a vegetable salad. The simplest statement and its contrapositive might look like this:
If the salad has lettuce, then it has tomatoes.
If the salad has no tomatoes, then it has no lettuce.
Now let’s add more vegetables (and more complicated logic):
If the salad has lettuce or spinach, then it has tomatoes and peppers.
Here’s an important idea: when you are forming a contrapositive, you already know that the necessary and sufficient factors are switched around and negated. But now you also have to remember that “and” becomes “or,” and vice versa. So the statement above becomes:
If the salad has no tomatoes or no peppers, then it has no lettuce and no spinach.
I find it extremely helpful to individually negate each element of the statement; otherwise, it’s easy to get confused. ...
These two sentences have an important difference. Can you spot it?
1) She spoke persuasively, arguing for major legislative changes.
2) Major legislative changes were argued for in her persuasive speech.
The first sentence is written in the active voice, and the second is written in the passive voice.
In the first sentence above, the subject is “she,” and the verb is “spoke.” In the second sentence, the subject is “major legislative changes” and the verb is “were argued for.”
Writing in the active voice means that the subject of the sentence is performing the action; writing in the passive voice means that the subject of the sentence is the object of an action. It’s tricky sometimes to distinguish between passive and active voices, but it’s worth practicing, because sometimes on GMAT Sentence Corrections, the difference between two grammatically sound answers is passive and active voice. Many people in this situation end up guessing because they can’t think of any good reason to reject either of the choices. By learning how to use passive and active...
Some GMAT sentence correction questions test not only for the accepted rules of grammar but also for the specific preferred style of the GMAT. Luckily, “who” vs. “whom,” is not one of those issues; this is a pretty straightforward issue, and is usually not tested in a complicated way. However, since even the most knowledgeable and educated writers sometimes misuse “who” and “whom,” it’s worth reviewing a couple of rules that can help guide you in determining the correct usage of these pronouns.
1. If someone were to ask a question about the sentence, would the answer be “him/her/them” or “he/she/they”?
This is probably the most effective way to remember the difference between “whom” and “who,” and most of the time, this will be enough to help you answer correctly. If a question about the action being described would be answered with “him,” “her,” or “them,” then the correct form is “whom.” If a question about the action being described would be answered with “he,” “she,” or “they,” then the correct form is “who.” Just remember this: the words with M’s at the end go together. They = Who, and Them = Whom. Here’s a basic sentence addressing this issue:
The Dalmation is a high-strung, energetic dog, and has historically been associated with firefighters, who/whom originally used the animal to guard...
Sentence corrections on the GMAT tests many of the same issues in subject-verb agreement as in pronoun-antecedent agreement: it’s important to distinguish singular nouns from plural ones, even when the test-makers have made it difficult to do so. For example, take a look at the first sentence of this article: there’s a mistake. The subject of that sentence is “[s]entence corrections,” which is plural, but the verb, “tests,” is singular. Because the singular “GMAT” is placed between them, the singular verb SOUNDS right, but is actually incorrect.
Let’s look at a couple more examples:
The team of football players are accompanied by their trainer and head coach.
This sentence demonstrates the same common trick, which is that a singular subject (team) is associated with a plural noun (players); a plural verb (are) is then placed next to that plural noun, and the unwary test-taker, relying on his or her sense of what “sounds right,” is lulled into thinking that the sentence is correct as written.
Incidentally, there’s a second, similar issue here: the pronoun-antecedent problem. While the test tricks you into thinking that “team of football...
A common trick used by GMAT test makers is to insert modifying phrase incorrectly. Here are some sentences that incorrectly use modifying phrases:
Sentence A: Ever since her paw was crushed in the front door, Mrs. Benson has been worried about Muffin, her pet cat.
Sentence A starts off with the modifying phrase “Ever since her paw was crushed in the front door,” and then talks about Mrs. Benson and her worry for her cat. But Mrs. Benson sounds like a person, and as a person, she probably doesn’t have a paw to be crushed. It’s MUCH more likely that Muffin’s paw got crushed, causing Mrs. Benson’s worry. This sentence needs to be corrected to put the modifying phrase next to the item it modifies.
Here are a couple of ways that we can do that, depending on where the sentence’s underlining is placed:
Sentence A1: Ever since her paw was crushed in the front door, Mrs. Benson has been worried about Muffin, her pet cat.
If the modifying phrase isn’t underlined, we don’t have the opportunity to fix it-- but we can rearrange the rest of the sentence so that the thing that is modified (...