offers hundreds of practice questions and video explanations. Go there now.
Sign up or log in to Magoosh GMAT Prep.

with + [noun] + [participle] on GMAT Sentence Correction

Here are five practice SC problems, exploring this particular grammatical structure.  Full explanations will appear at the end of the article.

 

1) With Arcsun Corporation announcing their new home video system, Playlite has to upgrade their systems to compete with them.

(A) With Arcsun Corporation announcing their new home video system, Playlite has to upgrade their systems to compete with them

(B) With Arcsun Corporation announcing its new home video system, Playlite must upgrade their systems in competition with it

(C) Because Arcsun Corporation is announcing their new home video system, Playlite has to upgrade its own systems by competing with them

(D) Since Arcsun Corporation is announcing their new home video system, Playlite is to upgrade their systems by competing with them

(E) Since Arcsun Corporation has announced its new home video system, Playlite must upgrade its own systems to compete with Arcsun

 

2) With a rotational axis tilted nearly parallel to the plane of the Solar System, Uranus exhibits extreme seasons: hemispheres go from continuous sunlight to continuous darkness in its 84-year cycle.

(A) With a rotational axis tilted nearly parallel to the plane of the Solar System, Uranus exhibits extreme seasons: hemispheres go

(B) With a rotational axis tilted nearly parallel to the plane of the Solar System, Uranus exhibiting extreme seasons, because hemispheres went

(C) Uranus has a rotational axis that is tilted nearly parallel to the plane of the Solar System, exhibiting extreme seasons, and the hemispheres went

(D) Uranus’s rotational axis tilted nearly parallel to the plane of the Solar System, it exhibits extreme seasons, with hemispheres going

(E) As a consequence of a rotational axis that is tilted nearly parallel to the plane of the Solar System, Uranus exhibited extreme seasons, such as the hemispheres going

 

3) With American cryptanalysists breaking the Japanese code, the Japanese Imperial Fleet losing the strategic element of surprise at Midway, which allowed the America Fleet to ambush the Japanese and win a decisive victory.

(A) With American cryptanalysists breaking the Japanese code, the Japanese Imperial Fleet losing the strategic element of surprise at Midway, which allowed

(B) With American cryptanalysists breaking the Japanese code, the Japanese Imperial Fleet strategically lost the element of surprise at Midway, and this allowed

(C) Because of the American cryptanalysists breaking the Japanese code, the Japanese Imperial Fleet strategically lost the element of surprise at Midway, to allow

(D) Because American cryptanalysists had broken the Japanese code, the Japanese Imperial Fleet lost the strategic element of surprise at Midway, allowing

(E) Since American cryptanalysists broke the Japanese code, the Japanese Imperial Fleet strategically lost the element of surprise at Midway, and this allowed

 

4) With a global team of analysts studying every move of the Asian market, Boisin Capital, prepared each morning for that day’s major market trends that its accuracy on predicting an “up” or “down” day in the Western Markets is higher than 98%.

(A) With a global team of analysts studying every move of the Asian market, Boisin Capital, prepared

(B) With a global team of analysts studying every move of the Asian market, Boisin Capital is so prepared

(C) With a global team of analysts studying every move of the Asian market, Boisin Capital would be as prepared

(D) Because a global team has been studying every move of the Asian market, Boisin Capital, so prepared

(E) Because of a global team which had been studying every move that Asian market made, Boisin Capital is as prepared

 

5) With the muddy field delaying the advance of the French infantrymen, the English longbowmen at the Battle of Agincourt were able to inflict significant damage on them, with the English infantry eventually eliminating off their reduced numbers easily.

(A) With the muddy field delaying the advance of the French infantrymen, the English longbowmen at the Battle of Agincourt were able to inflict significant damage on them, with the English infantry eventually eliminating their reduced numbers easily.

(B) When the muddy field delaying the advance of the French infantrymen at the Battle of Agincourt, with the English longbowmen being able to inflict significant damage on them, their numbers were reduced, and the English infantry easily was able to eliminate them.

(C) The muddy field delayed the advance of the French infantrymen at the battle of Agincourt, allowing the English longbowmen to inflict significant damage on them, and as the number of the French infantrymen was reduced, the English infantry easily could eliminate these remaining few.

(D) The French infantrymen at the Battle of Agincourt tried to advance but had been delayed by the muddy field, and the English longbowmen inflicted significant damage on them, and the English infantry eventually would eliminate their reduced numbers with ease

(E) The French infantrymen at the Battle of Agincourt delayed in their advance by the muddy field, and the English longbowmen at the Battle of Agincourt inflicting significant damage on them, so their numbers were reduced, and the English infantry easily could eliminate those left.

 

The ambiguity

Students often ask about this structure, with + [noun] + [participle].  This structure is identified as wrong for certain official Sentence Correction questions (e.g. the GMATPrep question “Unlike most other mergers in the utility industry . . . “) , and yet it is part of a correct sentence in other questions (e.g. the GMATPrep question “Visitors to the park have often looked up into the leafy canopy . . . “).  Is this structure right or wrong?  The frustrating answer is: “It depends.”  All five of the practice questions above use this structure, and in some the structure is perfectly correct, while in others, it is egregiously wrong.  What is going on?

I will attempt to make a rough distinction of two different use of this structure, one of which is inexcusably unacceptable, and the other of which is completely fine.  This is not necessarily a completely rigorous distinction, and will not exhaust all possible uses of this structure, but at least it will give students a guide.

This distinction depends on MEANING.  The GMAT Sentence Correction is more a test of meaning than a test of grammar.  Folks focus on the grammar, and sometimes they completely forget how important meaning is.  Meaning trumps grammar.  A student who goes through Sentence Correction problems paying attention to grammar and ignoring meaning will not be successful.

 

Case I: action by a different agent

This first case is the 100% wrong case.  Think about it this way.  The independent clause of a sentence has a subject and verb, and that subject is the “actor,” the doer-of-the-action, in the main clause.  If we want to talk about a different “actor” performing a different action, then we need another clause: either a second independent clause, joined by a correlative conjunction (e.g. “and“, “but“, “or“) , or a pair of correlative conjunctions; or a dependent clause, introduced by a subordinate conjunction or a relative pronoun/adverb.

Subordinate conjunctions: ON A WHITE BUS: Only if; Now that; Although, after, as; While, whereas, whether; If, in case; Though; Even though, even if; Because, before; Until, unless; Since, so, so … that.

Relative pronoun: who, whom, whose, what, that, which, whoever, whatever

Relative adverbs: why, how, where, when, however, wherever, whenever

If the main clause talks about one actor and his action, and we want to discuss a second actor and his separate action, we need a full clause, either independent or dependent.  That’s the rule.

The mistake is to use this structure, “with” + [noun] + [participle], as a substitute for a full clause.  For example,

wnpogsc_img1

In sentence #6, in walking to Canossa, the Emperor Henry IV is one actor performing one action in the subordinate clause, and Pope Gregory VII is another actor performing a different action in the main clause.  In sentence #7, the CEO is one actor performing one action in the main clause, and the sales are another “actor” doing something else.  In each case, the correct solution is to use a subordinate clause, a full clause to contain a new action.  In both cases, using the “with” + [noun] + [participle] structure in the place of a full clause is completely wrong.  This use will always be wrong on the GMAT Sentence Correction.

 

 Case II: additional description

This second case is perfectly acceptable.  In this case, there is an actor performing an action in the main sentence, and the “with” + [noun] + [participle] structure simply acts a noun modifier to provide some additional description to one of the nouns.  This structure doesn’t contain a whole new action performed by somebody else, but merely adds what we might call some artistic detail to the sentence.   For example

wnpogsc_img2

In both cases, there’s not another “actor” performing an action in addition to the action of the main clause.  Instead, the “with” phrase adds some descriptive detail to the sentence: it functions as a noun-modifier, as an adjectival phrase.   What’s being described in the “with” phrase is not an action but merely a fixed detail of something.  This is 100% correct, and could appear as part of the OA in a GMAT Sentence Correction question.

 

One test

One way to tell the difference is to imagine the sentence without the participle phrase, just “with” + [noun].  If the sentence still makes perfect sense in this form, then the participle was purely descriptive, we are in Case II, and the use of the “with” + [noun] + [participle] structure is perfectly legitimate.  If we drop the participle, and suddenly after the word “with” we have an unconnected noun that has no obvious relationship to the rest of the sentence, then the participle was providing an important action, we are in Case I, and the use of the “with” + [noun] + [participle] structure is not acceptable. For example, using the sentences above:

wnpogsc_img3

Notice that this opening preposition phrase now makes no sense.  It is an unconnected noun hanging out at the beginning of the sentence with no obvious grammatical connection to the rest of the sentence.  The Pope did not perform his action “with” the Emperor.  This sentence makes no sense, because the participle in version 6b was providing an action that was an essential part of the sentence.  That action needs a clause of its own.  By contrast,

wnpogsc_img4

This make perfect sense.  The Euglena manufactures food with its chloroplasts.  This sentence works either with or without the participle phrase, so that phrase must be purely a decoration, a detail, not essential to the action in the sentence.  This is Case II, and sentence #9 is perfectly correct as is.

 

Summary

If the foregoing discussion gave you some insights into the use of the “with” + [noun] + [participle] structure, then you might want to revisit the above sentences before you read the explanations below.  As always, you will build your intuition for the usage of this and other structures as you read: reading is one of the best ways to improve your GMAT Verbal score.

wnpogsc_img5

 

Practice problem explanations

1) Split #1: As explained in this blog, this question contains a “Case I” use of the “with” + [noun] + [participle] structure, action by a different actor.  In the main clause, Playlite is the actor, and in the “with” phrase, Arscun Corporation is another actor.  This is wrong.  For this other actor, we need a new clause.  (A) & (B) are wrong because of this.

Split #2a: Pronouns!  Both companies are collective nouns.  Collective nouns such as Arcsun Corporation or Playlite may have many members, but they are singular nouns and, as such, demand singular pronouns.

(A) “their” … “their” … “them” = totally wrong

(B) “its” … “their” … “it” = right on Arcsun, wrong on Playlite

(C) “their” … “its” … “them” = wrong on Arcsun, right on Playlite

(D) “their” … “their” … “them” = totally wrong

(E) “its” … “its” = pronouns are correct

Split #2b: another pronoun mistake is using the same pronoun in the same clause to refer to two different antecedent.  In (A) & (D), even if the “their” and “them” were correct in singular/plural, they would be wrong because they refer to two different antecedent.  If the sentence had all “it” and “its,” this still would be incorrect, because we can have multiple it’s referring to different antecedents.   This is precisely why we needed to repeat Arcsun’s name in (E).

Answer = (E)

 

2) Split #1: As explained in this blog, this question contains a “Case II” use of the “with” + [noun] + [participle] structure, additional description.  The participle following “with” is not an action word: it merely paints a picture, describes the appearance of the planet Uranus.  This is 100% acceptable, so we can’t eliminate anything on the basis of this split.

The sentence is radically reorganized on each choice, so we have to analyze each choice separately.

(A) “with”-phrase, comma, independent clause, colon, independent clause.  = that’s a grammatically correct organization of a sentence, and there are no errors; this choice is promising.

(B) “with”-phrase, comma, [noun] + [participle], “because” + [subordinate clause] = this sentence has no independent clause; it commits the missing-verb mistake.   This is wrong.

(C) [independent clause], comma,  [participial phase], comma, “and,” [independent clause] = that’s a grammatically correct organization of a sentence, but there’s no logical connection between “exhibiting extreme seasons” and what the hemispheres do.  The extreme seasons and what the hemispheres do seem like two separate things in this version, whereas one is an explanation of the other in the prompt.  This changes the meaning.  Also, there’s a mismatch of verb tenses, because “went” is past tense.  This is wrong.

(D) [absolute phrase], comma, [short independent clause], comma, “with”-phrase = this could be a grammatically acceptable organization, but the antecedent of the pronoun “it” is “Uranus’s,” which is in the possessive.  The “with”-clause at the end is arguably the acceptable kind discussed in this blog, but the very short independent clause, following by a much longer “with”-phrase, is awkward.   This is wrong.

(E) [prepositional phrases][noun modifying clause], comma, [independent clause], comma, [subordinate clause] = this could be a grammatically acceptable organization, but the verb tense “exhibited,” past tense, is wrong.  Also, the description of the hemispheres explains what is meant by “extreme seasons,” but it’s not an example of “extreme seasons;” the latter is what the construction “such that” implies.  Finally, this is excessively wordy.  This is wrong.

The only possible answer is (A).

 

3) Split #1: As explained in this blog, this question contains a “Case I” use of the “with” + [noun] + [participle] structure, action by a different actor.  In the main clause, the Japanese Imperial Fleet is the actor, and in the “with” phrase, the American cryptanalysists are other actors.  This is wrong.  For this other actor, we need a new clause.  (A) & (B) are wrong because of this.  Choice (C) is a similar mistake: another preposition, “because of,” with [noun] + [participle] structure, action by a different actor; this is also wrong.

Split #2: Adjective vs. adverb.  The answer choices vary between the adjective “strategic” and the adverb “strategically.”  What’s happening here?  Think about the situation.  The folks in the Japanese Imperial Fleet wanted the element of surprise, but they lost it.  Having the element would have been good: it was a “strategic” element of surprise.  Losing the element of surprise was very bad: there was nothing “strategic” about losing the element of surprise.  All the answers that have the formulation “… strategically lost the element of surprise…” are wrong: choices (B) & (C) & (E) make this mistake.

Split #3: pronoun mistake.  A pronoun can have as its antecedent a noun or other pronoun, but the antecedent of a pronoun cannot be the action of an entire clause.  Choices (B) & (E), at the end of the underlined section, use the pronoun “this” to refer to the action of the previous clause.  Unlike a pronoun, a participle such as “allowing” can modify a verb or an entire clause.

The only possible answer is (D).

 

4) Split #1: As explained in this blog, this question contains a “Case II” use of the “with” + [noun] + [participle] structure, additional description.  As discussed above, one way to tell that it’s “Case II” is to imagine the sentence without the participle phrase at all.

With a global team of analysts, Boisin Capital, prepared …”

That makes perfect sense by itself.  Boisin has a global team of analysts.  Now, if we add the participial phrase, we are merely adding description, not an essential action.  This is 100% acceptable, so we can eliminate anything on the basis of this split.

The sentence is radically reorganized on each choice, so we have to analyze each choice separately.

(A) This choice commits the famous missing-verb mistake.  The main noun is “Boisin Capital,” and this is followed by a participle, “prepared,” but it never gets a bonafide verb.  This is incorrect.

(B) The “with” structure at the beginning is fine, and there are no mistakes.  This choice is promising.

(C) This choice make use of the hypothetical language, “would be,” which is strange and awkward.  It also makes the idiom mistake “as prepared … that,” instead of “so prepared . . . that.”  This in incorrect.

(D) The “because” clause at the beginning is fine, but this choice also commits the missing-verb mistake, similar to (A).  This is incorrect.

(E) The “because of” construction at the beginning is fine, but this choice makes the idiom mistake “as prepared … that,” instead of “so prepared . . . that.”  This in incorrect.

The only possible answer is (B).

 

5) A question about the Henry V‘s victory at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

Split #1: As explained in this blog, this question contains a “Case I” use of the “with” + [noun] + [participle] structure, action by a different actor.  In the main clause, the English longbowmen are the actors, and in the “with” phrase, the muddy field is another actor.  This is wrong.  One way to see this, as discussed above, is to examine the sentence without the participle:

With the muddy field, the English longbowmen at the Battle of Agincourt were able to inflict significant damage …

This makes no sense.  The English longbowmen weren’t doing anything with the muddy field.  An essential piece of the action has been lost in dropping that participle.  For a separate actor performing a separate action, we need a whole new clause.  (A) & (B) are wrong because of this.

The sentence is radically reorganized on each choice, so we have to analyze each choice separately.

(A) In addition to the problematic structure at the beginning, this choice repeats the Case I mistake at the end, a double whammy!  This is completely incorrect.

(B) In addition to the problematic structure at the beginning, this choice repeats the Case I mistake immediate after the first: two incorrect “with” + noun] + [participle] structures right in a row.  Also, the antecedent of “their” is exceptionally unclear and ambiguous.  This choice is incorrect.

(C) This choice makes no mistakes.  All the pronouns have clear relationships with their antecedents.  This is promising.

(D) This choice has a combination of small problems.  The tense mismatch in the first part, “tried … but had been delayed,” doesn’t make sense.  Presumably, the “trying” and the “being delayed” would be more or less simultaneous.  Also, that first part is very wordy.  The overall sentence is just connect with a string of and’s, and this gives no sense of the logical interconnection of these events, what cause what.  The antecedent of “their” is ambiguous.  The hypothetical tense, “would reduce,” is strange and awkward for a factual historical event.   This choice is incorrect.

(E) The first part of the sentence is unusual: it appears to be an absolute phrase, but the logical relationship of this action to the rest of the sentence doesn’t fit the use of the absolute phrase.  Furthermore, an absolute phrase would not be connected to the main clause by the word “and.”  The antecedent of “their” is ambiguous. Here again, the overall sentence is just connect with a string of and’s, and this gives no sense of the logical interconnection of these events, what cause what.  This is incorrect.

The only possible answer is (C).

 

By the way, sign up for our 1 Week Free Trial to try out Magoosh GMAT Prep!

11 Responses to with + [noun] + [participle] on GMAT Sentence Correction

  1. Toby Okonkwo November 22, 2016 at 6:29 pm #

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for this article!

    “Case II: additional description
    This second case is perfectly acceptable. In this case, there is an actor performing an action in the main sentence, and the “with” + [noun] + [participle] structure simply acts a noun modifier to provide some additional description to one of the nouns…….In both cases, there’s not another “actor” performing an action in addition to the action of the main clause. Instead, the “with” phrase adds some descriptive detail to the sentence: it functions as a noun-modifier, as an adjectival phrase.”

    Based on the text above, how can we still say that B is correct in example 4? Judging by this standard, the “the global team of analysts is studying every move in the asian market”. Is that not a dinstinct action. I can see how the “test” you proposed can help here, since the sentence in option B would make sense wven without the “studying every move” part of the sentence.

    Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 23, 2016 at 10:48 am #

      The distinction there is a little tricky, isn’t it? But answer (B) in example 4 really is correct, and it doesn’t actually introduce a separate actor or a separate action.

      So what is the main verb in the sentence in example 4? That would be “is prepared.” Who is being prepared? “Boisin Capital.” The phrase “With a global team of analysts” doesn’t actually introduce a new actor, because the global team of analysts is part of Boisin Capital. These analysts work within Boisin Capital. Their team is not an independent actor, but is a tool that Boisin Capital uses to be prepared for new market trends.

      So “with a team of global analysts” describes not a separate actor/subject, but instead describes the method by which Boisin capital does something. When you add “studying every move,” this also does not create a separate act, and instead just adds a little more detail about Boisin’s methods for staying prepared. Boisin stays prepared by having a team of global analysts, and Boisin stays prepared by having their team of global analysts study every move in the Asian market.

      So this really does fit Case II by adding extra detail without truly introducing a new action. Does this make sense?

  2. Jan Shan October 24, 2016 at 11:32 am #

    In question 1 Answer Choice (E), the pronoun “its” also refers to 2 different antecedents. Why (E) is correct then? Thank you in advance.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 25, 2016 at 8:58 am #

      Hi Jan,

      You are correct that using “its” multiple times alone can be ambiguous. That is why it is important to repeat “Arcsun” in the second clause to remove ambiguity. “Playlite must upgrade its own systems to compete with Arcsun.”

  3. Daya December 29, 2015 at 9:08 am #

    Hi,

    In question 5, Option C ,

    (C) The muddy field delayed the advance of the French infantrymen at the battle of Agincourt, allowing the English longbowmen to inflict significant damage on them, and as the number of the French infantrymen was reduced, the English infantry easily could eliminate these remaining few.

    In the last line, the word “these”, a plural pronoun, refers to the immediate antecedent “The number of french men” which is singular…. How is this right?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 8, 2016 at 11:01 am #

      Hi Daya,

      Although it is a bit far away, both “them” and “these remaining few” refer to “French infantrymen.”

  4. Rohit September 17, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for this nice Post.

    Can we reproduce this concept with other prepositions as well?

    e.g.: Because of a law passed in 1993 making it a crime punishable by imprisonment for a United States citizen to hold gold in the form of bullion or coins, immigrants found that on arrival in the United States they had to surrender all of the gold they had brought with them. (Source: GMAT Prep): Correct

    (of a law passed)

    Above rule seems working over here as well, can we generalize above rule to other prepositions (at least to a few) as well?

  5. akhilesh August 14, 2015 at 1:36 am #

    Hi Mike,

    As always excellent post.
    I would like to ask you that how do we find out whether the with is making sense for sentences in which the with clause comes later in the sentence. Is there some way for us to apply the concepts you have taught here in such sentences.

    For example
    As the honeybee’s stinger is heavily barbed, staying where it is inserted, this results in the act of stinging causing the bee to sustain a fatal injury.

    (A) As the honeybee’s stinger is heavily barbed, staying where it is inserted, this results in the act of stinging causing
    (B) As the heavily barbed stinger of the honeybee stays where it is inserted, with the result that the act of stinging causes
    (C) The honeybee’s stinger, heavily barbed and staying where it is inserted, results in the fact that the act of stinging causes
    (D) The heavily barbed stinger of the honeybee stays where it is inserted, and results in the act of stinging causing
    (E) The honeybee’s stinger is heavily barbed and stays where it is inserted, with the result that the act of stinging causes

  6. Henry July 15, 2015 at 1:24 am #

    Good job!

    So you have relaxed your hard position that GMAT does not absolutely like [preposition] + [Noun] + [Participle] structure: evolution 🙂

  7. aditya July 6, 2015 at 10:50 am #

    In case of 4th sentence ,
    Golbal team of analyst is a different actor and Boisin Capital is a different actor.
    Then why this With + noun + participle construction is cosidered as correct ??

    Does this mean this global team and boisin capital are working together and cosidered as one single entity ?

    • Nikhil July 10, 2015 at 11:25 am #

      If u are in the doubt, try using the second way to check if the usage is right… Remove the participle and then see if the sentence makes sense.

      IMO the second method is less time consuming and much more easier to use.

      Hope this helps


Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!

Leave a Reply