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Logical Predication on the GMAT Sentence Correction

First, four GMAT Sentence Correction questions exploring issues of Logical Predication:

1) Minerva Consulting has a budget about the same as the largest consulting firms in the state, like Cost Stonehouse or McKidney’s, but only twenty four in workforce, all of whom have advanced degrees.

      (A) about the same as the largest consulting firms in the state, like Cost Stonehouse or McKidney’s, but only twenty four in workforce, all of whom have

 

      (B) of about the same as the largest consulting firms in the state have, as Cost Stonehouse or McKidney’s, but in Minerva there is only a workforce of twenty four, and all of them have

 

      (C) that is about the same as the budgets of largest consulting firms in the state, such as Cost Stonehouse or McKidney’s, but in Minerva with a workforce of only twenty four, all of them having

 

      (D) comparable to the budgets of the largest consulting firms in the state, like Cost Stonehouse or McKidney’s, but only twenty four in workforce, and all have
              (E) comparable to those of the largest consulting firms in the state, such as Cost Stonehouse or              McKidney’s, but a workforce of only twenty four, all of whom have

2) Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 – 8 BCE), known in the English-speaking world as “Horace”, was a contemporary of Virgil and the preeminent lyrical poet of the Augustan age; his poems were known as the “common currency of civilization” because they were so widely read and quoted, and over the past two millennia have had a much greater influence than any poet from ancient Rome.

      (A) than any

 

      (B) than any other

 

      (C) as any other

 

      (D) as those of any other

 

    (E) than those of any other

3) The state of Maine, in the extreme northeast corner of the continental United States, shares land borders with two Canadian provinces, Quebec and New Brunswick, but only is adjacent with one state, New Hampshire

      (A) only is adjacent with one

 

      (B) is adjacent only with one

 

      (C) is adjacent to only one other

 

      (D) only is adjacent to one

 

    (E) is only adjacent to one other

4) Geophysically, Eurasia is Earth’s largest landmass, and their peaks, the Himalayas, are the highest corresponding mountains on Earth.

      (A) their peaks, the Himalayas, are the highest corresponding

 

      (B) its peaks, the Himalayas, are correspondingly the highest

 

      (C) its peaks, the Himalayas, are the highest corresponding

 

      (D) its peaks, the Himalayas, correspond to the highest

 

    (E) their peaks, the Himalayas, are correspondingly the highest

The solutions & explanations for these questions will appear at the end of this article.

 

Logical predication

Logical predication is the most frequently tested topic on the GMAT sentence correction.  In fact, 42.9% of all the SC questions in the OG13 test concepts of logical predication.  What in tarnation is “logical predication”?  This is just a fancy way of saying that a good sentence has to make logical sense.  Grammar alone is not enough — we have to think about the logic of what the sentence is saying when we consider a Sentence Correction problem.

It’s remarkably easy to create a sentence that is grammatically correct but which makes absolutely no sense.  “My canary is the largest country in Europe.”  That sentence is completely grammatically correct and absolutely meaningless.   It’s a bit harder to write sentences that are grammatically correct, and the message of which you understand full well, but that don’t exactly say what they are trying to say.  The GMAT excels at creating questions like this, and there are a few among the incorrect answer choices above.

Some of the more typical logic mistakes include problems with modifiers and faulty comparisons.  The exact placement of crucial adverbs, such as “not” and “only” and “almost,” can cause logical problems.  Remember, it’s never enough simply to know what the sentence is trying to say — for a well written sentence, a sentence that would be correct on the GMAT Sentence Correction, the sentence must actually say everything that it’s trying to say.

 

Summary

Even if you know grammar well, you cannot succeed on GMAT Sentence Correction if you go on automatic-pilot grammar-check.  You have to engage meaning.  You have to think about logic.   Here’s another question about good old J.S. Bach from inside the Magoosh product:

5) http://gmat.magoosh.com/questions/3274

If you have any thoughts to share, or questions about this, please let us know in the comments section.

For more practice questions, see:

Logical Splits in GMAT Sentence Correction

Logical Splits on GMAT Sentence Correction

Practice Question Explanations

1) Split #1: listing examples.  The GMAT considers it a mistake to use “like” for listing examples (“… dogs, like beagles and golden retrievers, …”).  The proper construction involves “such as” instead of “like” (“… dogs, such as beagles and golden retrievers, …”).  Choices (A) & (D) incorrectly use “like” before the names of the largest consulting firms.  Choice (B) makes the unusual mistake of using just “as” to list examples: this is also incorrect.

Split #2a: The constructions “about the same as” and “comparable to” are both correct.   Choice (B) awkwardly has “of about the same” — yes, we might use “of” with “budget”, as in a “budget of $10,000”, but why would we compare the dollar amounts of the budgets when we could just compare the budgets?  Choice (C), “that is about the same as”, is way too wordy.

Split #2b: what is being compared?  Choice (A) illogically say that a budget is “about the same as the largest consulting firms in the state”.  Choices (C) & (D) repeat the word “budgets” in the plural, whereas (E) chooses the more elegant “those of the largest consulting firms …”

Split #3: after the “but.”  The most elegant design for the sentence has “Minerva has P but Q” — both P & Q are direct objects of the verb “has.”   Therefore, there is no reason to repeat “in Minerva” as (B) & (C) do.

Split #4a: size of a workforce.  The phrasing “twenty four in workforce” is awkward and ungrammatical, but “a workforce of twenty four” is correct.   (A) & (D) make this mistake.

Split #4b: the word “only” emphasizes the small size of Minerva’s workforce, so it should modify the number 24, not the word “workforce”, as (B) does.

That’s more than enough to isolate (E) as the only possible answer.

2) Split #1: the idioms of comparison.   One correct idiom is “as great as”, for two things of the same size.  Another correct idiom is “greater than”, for two things of unequal size.   Here, the word “greater” appears before the underlined section, so we must have “than”, not “as” — choices (C) & (D) make this mistake.

Split #2: individual vs. category.  Horace was a Roman poet, so it is illogical to say he had greater influence “than any poet from ancient Rome” — that would illogically imply that he had more influence than himself!   Obviously, we want to compare Horace to the other ancient Roman poets, so we need the word “other.”  Choice (A) omits the word “other” and is therefore incorrect.

Split #3: the part of the sentence after the semi-colon begins with “his poems” as the subject —— his poems …. “have had a much greater influence than” ______________.  It is illogical to compare poems to poets, and choices (A) & (B) & (C) make this mistake.  Choices (D) & (E) correctly have “those of any other poet”: in that structure, the pronoun “those” stands for poems, so we are logically comparing poems to poems.

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

3) Split #1: idioms.  The correct idiom is “adjacent to”, not “adjacent with”.   Choices (A) & (B) make this mistake.

Split #2: individual vs. category.  Maine is a state.  We say it touches two Canadian provinces (in a different category) and one state (in the same category).  This would be clearer if we said “one other state” — that is a slightly clearer answer, although we can’t mark the choices wrong that omit the word “other” — here, this is not a deciding split.

Split #3: the word “only”.  What is being limited by the word “only”?   The phrase “only is adjacent” implies that we think there should be some other, more flamboyant action that simply “being adjacent” — that doesn’t make sense in this context.  The word “only” should limit the number “one” — the surprise of the sentence that that, unlike states that border five or eight other states, Maine borders only one.   The only choice that has the word “only” directly in front of the number is (C), the correct answer.

4) Split #1: pronoun mistake.   Sure, a whole lot of people live on Eurasia, more than half of the human race, but the subject Eurasia is singular, and must take a singular pronoun.  The pronoun “its” is correct, and the pronoun “their” is incorrect.  (A) & (E) make this mistake.

Split #2: The heart of this problem is the word “corresponds”/ “corresponding”/ “correspondingly”.  This is one of the hardest splits on the GMAT.   The Himalayas, the mountains themselves, don’t correspond to anything.  Rather, they are part of a larger comparison.  Eurasia has the “biggest in the world” landmass, and, in the same way, its mountains, the Himalayas, are the “biggest in the world” mountains.  That phrase, “in the same way,” is an adverbial phrase: if it were replaced by a single word, that word would have to be an adverb.  That is precisely why we need the adverb “correspondingly.”

Choice (B) is the best possible answer.

 

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5 Responses to Logical Predication on the GMAT Sentence Correction

  1. aditya August 13, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    hi mike ,
    hope you doing in best of health

    i am little worried about the answer of the first question

    as per you the answer is E

    E says: comparable to tose of the largest consulting firms in the state, such as Cost Stonehouse or McKidney’s, but a workforce of only twenty four, all of whom have

    i assume that the misprinted word “TOSE” is actually “those” . i feel that “those” would be wrong here as “those” refers to plural antecedents. however, “budget” is a singular antecedent and not plural .in fact i had ruled out this option for this mistake !!

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike August 14, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

      Dear Aditya,
      First of all, thank you very much for pointing out the typo. Yes, it should be “those” — I just made that correction.
      As for your grammar question, this a very tricky thing about the use of demonstrative pronouns (that, those) in comparisons & parallelism. Minerva has a budget, singular. The other two companies have budgets, plural. This is precisely why a personal pronoun (it, they) would be totally incorrect, and why we need to use a demonstrative pronoun. The pronoun “those” refers not to the single budget of Minerva but to the plural budgets of the two other companies — demonstrative pronouns do not refer exclusively to an antecedent— they don’t have the “personal” relationship with an antecedent that a personal pronoun would have. Demonstrative pronouns can refer to the same word in another context — the budget of Minerva is not the same thing as the budget of either either company — and because the context is different, antecedent can be singular and pronoun can be plural. Demonstrative pronouns do not need to match their antecedents the way personal pronouns do.
      Does all this make sense?
      Mike 🙂

      • Yaman Wadhwani May 11, 2016 at 2:48 am #

        Thanks Mike! I have been wondering on this question as well.

  2. abhinav May 14, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    Hi mike,

    Thanks for the insight into logical predication.
    I now have a beter understanding of what may constitute logical predication.
    please update any other findings that may follow the suite.

    Thanks! !

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike May 14, 2013 at 11:29 am #

      Dear Abhinav,
      I’m glad you found it helpful. Good luck!
      Mike 🙂


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