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GMAT Sentence Correction: Grammatical Construction

First, some practice GMAT Sentence Correction questions of this genre.

1) Although more expensive to set up than fossil fuel power, alternative energy sources, such as solar energy and wind farms, both of which could easily supply all of the US’s energy needs, they would provide vast savings over time, not only in direct upkeep, but also medical costs due to lower cancer rates.

  1. Although more expensive to set up than fossil fuel power, alternative energy sources, such as solar energy and wind farms, both of which could easily supply all of the US’s energy needs, they
  2. Although alternative energy sources, such as solar energy and wind farms, both of which could easily supply all of the US’s energy needs, are more expensive to set up than fossil fuel power, they
  3. Although they are more expensive to set up than fossil fuel power, solar energy and wind energy being two examples, both of which could easily supply all of the US’s energy needs, alternative energy sources
  4. Exemplified by solar energy and wind farms, both of which could easily supply all of the US’s energy needs, alternative energy sources are more expensive to set up than fossil fuel power, they
  5. Alternative energy sources, such as solar energy and wind farms, both of which could easily supply all of the US’s energy needs, although they are more expensive to set up than fossil fuel power, they

2) The new crime legislation, introduced by Senator Gladstone in response to the Alkaline Scandal, would increase police databases, funding for neighborhood watch groups, programs for rehabilitating at-risk youth, and decrease the parole possibilities for violent convicts.

  1. programs for rehabilitating at-risk youth, and decrease
  2. programs to rehabilitate at-risk youth, and decrease
  3. and programs to rehabilitate at-risk youth, while decreasing
  4. increase programs for rehabilitating at-risk youth, and would decrease
  5. and programs to rehabilitate at-risk youth would be increased, while decreasing

3) Senator Baxter’s suggestion of the United States being able to cut all dependence on foreign oil by 2025 raised great controversy in the press.

  1. of the United States being able to cut all dependence on foreign oil by 2025 has raised great controversy in the press
  2. of the ability of the United States to cut all dependence on foreign oil by 2025 raised great controversy in the press
  3. that the United States can cut all dependence on foreign oil by 2025 has raised great controversy in the press
  4. which is that the United States has the ability to cut all dependence on foreign oil by 2025 raised great controversy in the press
  5. which has raised great controversy in the press is that the United States will be able to cut all dependence on foreign oil by 2025

 

Grammatical construction on the GMAT

Obviously, every right answer on the GMAT Sentence Correction must be grammatically correct.   It’s very easy to determine whether a simple sentence (e.g. “Frank bought a new hat“) is grammatically correct, but of course, you will not see any sentence that simple on the GMAT.  GMAT sentences are loaded with modifying phrases & clauses, a tremendous amount of detail that can obscure the fundamental logical structure of the sentence.   Thus, amid all the modifiers, the GMAT can slip in mistakes that would be very easy to spot in very simple sentences, including the missing verb mistake, run-on sentences, and the double subject mistake.

To isolate the fundamental SUBJECT-VERB core of each sentence and each clause, it’s useful to “eliminate fluff”, that is, mentally cross-out modifying phrases and clauses.  If we remove modifiers, we should get a sentence with less detail, but the core structure of the sentence should be all the more clear.

Grammatical construction also covers the best way to organize information so that the meaning of the sentence is clear.  In this sense, the topic of Grammatical Construction has a blurry boundary with Rhetorical Construction, another huge area on GMAT Sentence Correction, but we can draw some distinctions.   For example, if one set of grammatical constructions lead to ambiguity, then resolving the ambiguity is more a grammatical task than a rhetorical task.

 

Summary

Here’s another GMAT SC question focusing on issues of Grammatical Construction:

4) http://gmat.magoosh.com/questions/3276

If you would like to add anything, or ask a question, please let us know in the comments section below!

 

Practice problem solutions

1) For this question, see:

http://gmat.magoosh.com/questions/3586

2) The three elements that will be increased need to be in parallel.  The first two, “police databases” and “funding for neighborhood watch groups” are before the underline section.  The third element, ” programs to rehabilitate at-risk youth,” has to have the word “and” in front of it because it’s the last element on the list.  Also, the action of decreasing has to be separate from this list.   Choices (A) & (B) treat the action of decreasing as another element on the list, which is incorrect.   Choices (D) & (E) introduce a separate verb for the third element on the list, disrupting the parallelism.  Only (C) gets all of this correct.

BTW, notice: to show purpose, the construction “programs for rehabilitating” is awkward — this is what (A) & (D) have.  What we need is the infinitive of purpose, “programs to rehabilitate.”

For all these reasons, (C) is the only possible answer.

3) Split #1: ability.  All answer that use “able” or “ability” correctly use the infinitive, so they have this idiom correct.  Look at the variation among the answers:

(A)being able to cut … very awkward!

(B)the ability … to cut …. wordy, not active

(C)can cut … direct, concise, and powerful!

(D)the ability to cut ….. wordy, not active

(E)will be able to cut …. not bad, but a bit wordy

Clearly, use of “can” provides the most concise way to express this idea.

Split #2: the senator’s suggestion consisted of an action, which involves a full NOUN + VERB clause.  We need a “that” clause to express this action.  Only (C) has a “that” clause.

For both of these reasons, (C) is the only possible answer.

 

About the Author

Mike McGarry is a Content Developer for Magoosh with over 20 years of teaching experience and a BS in Physics and an MA in Religion, both from Harvard. He enjoys hitting foosballs into orbit, and despite having no obvious cranial deficiency, he insists on rooting for the NY Mets. Follow him on Google+!

4 Responses to GMAT Sentence Correction: Grammatical Construction

  1. Geraldo Gustaveson December 28, 2013 at 4:38 am #

    That’s really great information! Thanks a lot.

    • Mike
      Mike December 28, 2013 at 9:02 am #

      Dear Geraldo,
      You are quite welcome. Best of luck to you.
      Mike :-)

  2. mike s August 8, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    The answer for question number three is missing “can” and does not make sense without it.

    • Mike
      Mike August 9, 2013 at 10:26 am #

      Mike,
      Choice C was actually missing the word “cut”. I corrected the mistake. Thank you for pointing it out.
      Mike :-)


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