800Score GMAT Guide
Sentence Correction
Section I:  Introduction
Section II:  Grammar Basics
Section III:  Sentence Correction Tips
Section IV:  Three-Step Method
Section V:  Seven Error Types
Section V-1:  Subject-Verb Agreement
Section V-2:  Modifiers
Section V-3:  Parallelism
Section V-4:  Pronoun Agreement
Section V-5:  Verb Time Sequences
Section V-6:  Comparisons
Section V-7:  Idioms
Section VI:  Sample Questions

Section I: Introduction

Typically one third of the 41 Verbal questions are Sentence Correction. Of all the GMAT sections you must study, two in particular will have enduring benefits after test day: the AWA Essay section and the Sentence Correction section. Effective writing is not only a prerequisite for mastering the GMAT, it is also a vital part of business communication. What you learn here will help you to express your ideas more clearly and effectively, whether you are drafting a GMAT essay or a business proposal.


II. Grammar Basics
     Definitions of common grammar terms that you will find on the GMAT.

III. Sentence Correction Tips
     A few basic tips to keep in mind.

IV. Three-Step Method for Sentence Correction Questions
     This section provides you with a clear, step-by-step method for tackling all Sentence Correction questions.

V. Seven Types of Errors in Sentence Correction Questions
     This section provides you with an overview of the seven most common grammar mistakes found in Sentence Correction questions.
     You will learn specific skills for handling individual questions.

VI. Sample Questions
     Timed online questions to simulate actual GMAT questions.


Section II: Grammar Basics

Function Words

active

voice in which the person or thing performing the action is the subject of the verb

John throws the pencil.

adjective

word or phrase that modifies a noun or adverb

It was a happy coincidence.

adverb

a word or phrase that modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb. An adverb often ends in -ly.

The detective paced slowly around the room.

article

word (a, an, the) that specifies or confines the meaning of a noun

Definite Article: The soldier died bravely.

Indefinite Article: A soldier never truly returns home.

clause

in a sentence, a group of words that contains both a subject and a predicate

I(subject) can't believe Barbara said those things.(predicate)
 

conjunction

word that joins two or more words, phrases, clauses, or sentences

Sue and Sally have never been late; they are always on time.

collective noun

indicates a group of persons, things, or animals treated as a single entity

The fleet of ships arrives too late.

A chorus of angels quivers in her soul.

correlative conjunction

pair of words which, separated from each other in a sentence, act as a conjunction (joining two or more words, phrases, or sentences) 

Either you are coming with me, or we will never see each other again.

gerund

noun formed from a verb, usually by adding -ing to the end

Running to catch a train can be very dangerous.

idiom

word, or expression comprising several words, the meaning of which extends beyond the usual meanings of the individual words

Chocolate tastes as good as ice cream.

The candidate claims to support tax cuts, in contrast to his prior statements.

Neither Tom nor Sam has the necessary skills to finish the job.

impersonal pronoun

pronoun that does not stand in for any particular noun, but instead refers to "people in general" or fulfills the sentence's syntactical need for a pronoun

One must pay close attention to a test's instructions.

It must be said.

infinitive

dictionary form of a verb; in English, most often appears as "to ___ " ("to eat", "to run")

To sleep, perchance to dream, aye there's the rub.

modifier

word, phrase, or clause that provides extra information about another word, phrase, or clause

The soft pillow did not make up for the hard bed.

mood

verb form that indicates the speaker's position on the factuality of the sentence; indicates if action/condition is true or unlikely or if the speaker is giving a command

Indicative: Harry spends all of his money on comic books.

Imperative: Spend all of your money on comic books!

Subjunctive: I wish Paul were not spending his money so recklessly.

noun

word that indicates a person, place, or thing

John ate pizza at the cafe with his friends.

object

in a sentence, the noun or noun phrase that receives or is otherwise affected by the action specified by the verb

Geronimo ran to the cliff.

passive voice

voice in which the person or thing performing the action is the object of the verb

The batter was hit by the pitch.

phrase in a sentence, a group of words that contains either a subject or a predicate, but not both

Noun Phrase: the mouse in the trap

Prepositional Phrase: under the full moon

Verb Phrase: runs around and around

Adjectival Phrase: good as gold

Adverbial Phrase: happily oblivious

plural

noun, pronoun, or adjective indicating multiple persons or things

Cows don't like sheep.

also the form of the verb (especially in the present tense) that agrees with multiple persons, places, or things

Six cats are asleep on the rug.

possessive

pronoun or adjective indicating possession

Lucy’s book is over there.
(The proper noun Lucy is now used as a possessive adjective Lucy’s.)

That book over there is hers.
(Hers is a possessive pronoun)

predicate

part of a sentence or clause that, as a whole, modifies the subject; includes the verb, the object/s, or phrases presided over by the verb

Ricky reads.

Ricky reads the newspaper.

Ricky reads the newspaper to his grandfather.

preposition

word that shows the relationship between words, phrases, or clauses

The man from Brazil had never seen snow.

The tax collector tapped on the door.

pronoun

word that stands in for a noun or noun phrase

John just meant to scare the boys. He made a terrible mistake, though.

proper noun

noun indicating a specific person, place, or thing

Cassandra decided the Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia is one of her favorite works of architecture.

relative pronoun

pronoun that connects a subordinate clause to the rest of the sentence

Harry is the boy who won the race.

Harry is the boy whom Julie had a crush on.

sentence

group of words that contains a subject and a predicate and is able to stand on its own

This is a sentence.

singular

noun or pronoun indicating one person, place, or thing

The cow does not like the sheep.

also the form of the verb (especially in the present tense) that agrees with one person, place, or thing

This gun only shoots blanks.

subject

in a sentence, the noun or noun phrase that performs the action indicated by the verb or that is explained or described by the verb

The ship sailed through the night storm.

verb

word that represents an action or state of being

We all know this already.

voice set of verb forms indicating the relationship between the subject and the action or condition expressed by the verb

Active: The big fish swallowed Jonah.

Passive: Jonah was swallowed by the big fish.


Section III: Sentence Correction Tips

 

1. GMAT grammar adheres to the rules of "Standard Written English."

"Standard Written English" refers to formal writing that follows the rules that you find in grammar books. Since proper written English often differs from spoken English, the correct answer will not always be the one that sounds the best to you. You cannot rely on your ear alone; you must become familiar with the grammar rules of written English.

2. The GMAT tests a limited number of grammar rules.

English grammar contains hundreds of very specific rules. The GMAT tests only a few of these, so devote your energy to mastering the most common rules which we've laid out in this chapter.

3. Grammar is key - but style is important, too.

The best answer must be clear and grammatically correct, but without redundancy, and with proper punctuation. Idioms must be used correctly. Look for grammatical errors first; then check for errors in style.

4. Sentences may contain more than one error.

Sentence Correction questions contain discrete, identifiable errors. Be on the lookout for sentences containing two or three errors.  Just because an answer choice corrects one error in the sentence doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right choice. The best answer will correct all errors in the original sentence.

5. Incorrect answer choices are incorrect.

Sentence Correction answer choices are variations of the correct answer. Incorrect answers will almost always be identifiable as such. Even if an answer choice sounds strange, don't rush to eliminate it unless you can find a definite error.







Section IV: Three-Step Method

The directions for Sentence Correction questions look like this:

Each of the sentence correction questions presents a sentence, part or all of which is underlined. Beneath the sentence you will find five ways of phrasing the underlined part. The first of these repeats the original; the other four are different. Follow the requirements of standard written English to choose an answer, paying attention to grammar, word choice, and sentence construction. Select the answer that produces the most effective sentence; your answer should make the sentence clear, exact, and free of grammatical error. It should also minimize awkwardness, ambiguity, and redundancy.

Sample Question:

1. When Charlene goes to the park, she likes to run, swim, and to play basketball.

A. she likes to run, swim, and to play basketball
B. she likes to run, swim, and play basketball
C. she likes running, to swim, and to play basketball
D. she likes running, swimming, and to play basketball
E. she likes all of the following, to run, swim, and to play basketball

Your task is to find the answer choice that is most grammatically correct, but sometimes more than one answer choice will appear to be free of grammatical errors. This is by design — style conventions must also be taken into consideration in determining the correct answer. You must find the one answer that is grammatically correct, clearly expressed and concise.

800score Three-Step Method to Sentence Correction questions:

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

  1. GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
    Read the entire sentence. Do not simply read the underlined part of the sentence, because context may be important in determining the correct answer. Choice (A) will always be a copy of the original underlined part of the sentence. If you cannot find any errors, grammatical or otherwise, in the original sentence, choose (A) and move on.

    Don't worry about spelling, capitalization, or punctuation; they are not covered in Sentence Correction questions. If you do find an error in the underlined portion, or if you're not 100% sure, proceed to step two.

  2. GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
    Look for clues indicating which grammar rule the question is testing. These grammar rules and clues will be covered in more detail in the next section.

    Keep an eye out for the following issues:
    Agreement: Look for pronouns, verbs, and nouns — do they agree?
    Modifiers: Look for introductory phrases set off by a comma — is the modifier used correctly?
    Parallels: Look for commas separating words in a list as well as expressions such as "not only...but also"; "both...and"; "either...or"; "neither...nor" — is everything parallel?

  3. GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
    Look for the answer choice that preserves the meaning of the original sentence and fixes its errors without creating any new ones. Eliminate answer choices with grammatical errors.

Now that you've acquired a method for approaching the questions, it's time to move on to specifics: how to recognize and correct the seven common grammar errors found on the GMAT. 


Section V: Seven Error Types

The GMAT tests only a limited number of grammar error types. Therefore, you only need to learn a handful of rules – you don't need to master every grammatical and stylistic rule of Standard Written English to do well on the GMAT.

Seven Types of Errors
in Sentence Correction

1. Subject-Verb Agreement
2. Modifiers
3. Parallelism
4. Pronoun Agreement
5. Verb Time Sequences
6. Comparisons
7. Idioms


Section V-1: Subject-Verb Agreement

Subject-Verb Agreement

A. Introduction
B. Subject / Verb Separation
C. Collective Nouns
D. Plural / Singular
E. Neither / Either
F. Or / Nor
G. Subject / Verb / Object
H. Quantity Words
I. Sample Questions




Subjects and verbs must agree. Singular subjects must be paired with singular verbs, and plural subjects with plural verbs. Agreement allows us to show who's doing what in a sentence by indicating which parts of the sentence go together.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

Singular verbs generally have an "s" at the end. Plural verbs do not. Nouns are the opposite:

John (singular noun) walks (singular verb)
Cars (plural noun) drive (plural verb)

Pronouns must match as well.
He walks
They drive

Subject-Verb Agreement: Subject / Verb Separation

    

Subject-Verb Agreement

A. Introduction
B. Subject / Verb Separation
C. Collective Nouns
D. Plural / Singular
E. Neither / Either
F. Or / Nor
G. Subject / Verb / Object
H. Quantity Words
I. Sample Questions

 

In the sentence below, the accompanying phrase his grandmother and his parents only provides extra information and does not alter the grammatical relationship between the subject child and the verb is.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.


Take a look at the following sentence and decide which one is correct.

Frank, accompanied by his students, (were / was) at the studio.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

To simplify the task of comparing the newly-identified subject and its governing verb, we'll next erase the crossed-out clause. We're left with the following:
GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

The subject of the sentence is now right next to its governing verb. But does this subject-verb combination Frank...were make sense? No. Frank is only one person signifying singularity, not plurality and so our governing verb should also be singular.
GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

In the example above, the plural verb were has been changed to the singular verb was.


Prepositional Phrases

Many modifying phrases will begin with a preposition: like, as, in, of, to, between, etc.

The goal of the architects are to create the most stunning and functional building in the city.

 

If the plural noun architects is the subject, then the plural verb are is correct. But if the singular noun goal is the subject, then the plural noun are is incorrect: we would need the singular verb is instead.
 

 

Once the filler phrase is crossed out, we can see that the plural verb are is not correct, because goal, a singular noun, is the subject of the sentence. The correct verb is the singular verb is:


 


Adjectival Clauses

Just like prepositional phrases, adjectival clauses add extra information to a sentence, which means that their contents cannot affect noun-verb agreement in the main part of the sentence.

The book that I bought for my students (tell / tells) the story of a Russian immigrant's experience in the United States.

The portion of the sentence we're concerned with contains two verbs in addition to there being three possible subjects: two nouns and one pronoun.


 

How do you know which noun is the subject and which verb is the main verb? First, cross out for my students since it is a prepositional phrase:

The book that I bought for my students (tells / tell) the story of a Russian immigrant's experience in the United States.

Next, cross out any groups of words beginning with the pronoun that:

The book that I bought (tells / tell) the story of a Russian immigrant's experience in the United States.

Here, we are left with just one noun and one verb after crossing out the prepositional phrase and the adjectival clause:


 

Now that we've isolated the main clause subject and verb, we can solve the agreement problem. Since the subject, book, is singular, we need the singular verb tells.


Subject-Verb Agreement: Collective Nouns
    

Subject-Verb Agreement

A. Introduction
B. Subject / Verb Separation
C. Collective Nouns
D. Plural / Singular
E. Neither / Either
F. Or / Nor
G. Subject / Verb / Object
H. Quantity Words
I. Sample Questions




Collective nouns, such as family, majority, audience, and committee, are singular when they act in a collective fashion or represent one group.

 

List of Common Collective Nouns

army clergy government
audience council jury
band (musical) crowd majority
board (political) department minority
cabinet (political) enemy public
choir group school
class herd senate
committee faculty society
company family  
corporation team  

In the sentence below we are presented with the noun majority.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

The majority of shareholders likely contains several shareholders; however, they are only spoken of as a group, not as individuals. There is no indication that the sentence is referring to the individuals within the majority – even
though it comprises several people, the majority acts as one – as a singular entity. Therefore majority requires a singular verb, wants.


Next, for the sake of contrast, let's take a look at a collective noun that requires a plural verb:

Collective nouns are plural when the members of the collective body act as individuals.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page. 

The sentence above describes the fighting that occurs between the individual members of the team. Because team refers to several individual members in this case, it is a plural noun, and therefore requires the plural verb are as a result.


Subject-Verb Agreement: Plural / Singular
    

Subject-Verb Agreement

A. Introduction
B. Subject / Verb Separation
C. Collective Nouns
D. Plural / Singular
E. Neither / Either
F. Or / Nor
G. Subject / Verb / Object
H. Quantity Words
I. Sample Questions

Basic rules for compound subjects:

  1. Phrases or words separated by "and" are plural;
  2. Phrases separated by "or" or "nor" are singular.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page. 

In this example, we see a list of three names. Because these names – Ted, John, I are separated by the word and, the plural form of the verb is used. The subject is plural because it refers to more than one person (place, thing, or event), and plural subjects require plural verbs. When a list of things is separated by the word nor, the singular form of the verb is used.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
 


A. Pronouns

 
A. The following pronouns are always singular:

anyone everything something
anybody whatever no one
anything whoever/whomever nobody
everyone someone nothing
everybody somebody  

Many of the words in this category can be broken down in a way that illustrates their singular nature:


 
B. The following pronouns are always plural:

both many several
few others  
 

 
C. The following indefinite pronouns could be either singular or plural depending on context:

some none most
any all  




For the pronouns in list C, you can't depend on memorization to tell you whether you need a singular or plural verb. Instead, you need to figure it out from the context. Look at these examples:

Some of the bananas are brown.

Some of the banana is brown.

Both sentences are correct. Why does the first require a plural verb and the second a singular? Because, in the first sentence, some refers to several distinct objects:

If we have ten bananas, then some of the bananas means many individual bananas. In the second sentence, some refers to part of one object:

One part of one banana is brown. In this sentence, some means one part (of a banana), which is singular.

The general rule applies:


 

This trick works for the following pronouns: some, all, any, and most. These pronouns will almost always be followed by a noun or by the prepositional phrase “of + noun”: some of the dogs, most of the cake, any of the individuals, etc. In either case, you can use the flowchart above to determine which verb to use. 

The same principle applies even if the verb comes before the pronoun in the sentence.  This often happens with the pronoun any.


 


 

As in the other examples, the number of the noun determines the number of the verb. If a singular noun follows the pronoun, use a singular verb.  If a plural noun follows the pronoun, use a plural verb.

Hint: If you are having trouble determining whether the noun is singular or plural, try replacing the noun in question with a pronoun. If the pronoun is singular (“it”), use a singular verb.  If the pronoun is plural (“them”), use a plural verb.


The pronoun none follows slightly different rules. Consider these sentences, all of which are grammatically correct:

None of the ice cream was left over.

None of my friends are going to a play tonight.

None of the inmates was given a fair trial.

See something strange? The first and second sentences look fine, using a singular noun followed by a singular verb and a plural noun followed by a plural verb. But the third sentence contains a plural noun and a singular verb. How could this be?

Unlike agreement for the pronouns some, all, any, and most, agreement for none is not determined by the noun following it, but rather by context – whether the thing being spoken of is singular or plural.However, there are exceptions, so you should learn to use context to determine whether the quantity in question is singular or plural.

The first sentence takes a singular verb because the ice cream is being referred to as a whole:

This sentence is talking about a certain quantity of ice cream. Single entities require singular verbs

 

In this instance, the author is talking about the collective action of several different friends, so a plural verb is required.

Now let’s take another look at the third sentence, which takes a singular verb in spite of the plural noun:

None of the inmates was given a fair trial.

Here, the singular verb is used because the inmates are not being referred to collectively, but individually.  The inmates are not tried as a group; they are tried as individuals. So, use a singular verb.


Subject-Verb Agreement: Neither / Either
    

Subject-Verb Agreement

A. Introduction
B. Subject / Verb Separation
C. Collective Nouns
D. Plural / Singular
E. Neither / Either
F. Or / Nor
G. Subject / Verb / Object
H. Quantity Words
I. Sample Questions

Neither and either always take singular verbs when acting as the subject of a sentence.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

Here, neither is the subject and behaves like a singular noun. It requires the singular verb is.
 

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

In this example, Either (or Either one) is the subject and behaves like a singular noun. It requires the singular verb is.

This rule does not apply to the correlative pairs Either…or and Neither…nor, which are discussed in the next section. 


Subject-Verb Agreement: Or / Nor
    

Subject-Verb Agreement

A. Introduction
B. Subject / Verb Separation
C. Collective Nouns
D. Plural / Singular
E. Neither / Either
F. Or / Nor
G. Subject / Verb / Object
H. Quantity Words
I. Sample Questions


 

If two subjects are joined by the correlative pairs "Either...or" or "Neither...nor," the verb should agree with the subject that is closer to it.

If the conjunction "nor" appears in a sentence with "neither," or the conjunction "or" with "either," then the "Neither/Either" rule (section E of this chapter) no longer applies.

In these constructions, neither and either are no longer the subject. Instead, they function as conjunctions, working in pairs with nor and or to join two other subjects in the sentence. When this occurs, the verb agrees with whichever subject is closer to it.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

This "neither…nor" sentence contains two subjects: supervisor and staff members. The third noun, client, is the object. Since the latter subject, staff members, is plural, we need the plural verb were.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

This example is grammatically identical to the one above except that the correlative conjunction joining the subjects is either...or. The verb must therefore agree with the subject closest which is the singular noun child. The proper verb form is the singular is.

Remember to apply this rule only when both items of the pairs "neither/nor" and "either/or" are present in the sentence.


Subject-Verb Agreement: Subject / Verb / Object
    

Subject-Verb Agreement

A. Introduction
B. Subject / Verb Separation
C. Collective Nouns
D. Plural / Singular
E. Neither / Either
F. Or / Nor
G. Subject / Verb / Object
H. Quantity Words
I. Sample Questions



Basic sentences follow the pattern SubjectVerb — Object.

Here is an example:

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

To identify the subject, look for the noun that is doing the action indicated by the verb. The object is the noun receiving the action. The first noun in the sentence, dog, is performing the action indicated by the active verb, ate. The noun dog is therefore the subject of the sentence. The only remaining noun, homework, is the object. This noun describes what the dog ate.


Some sentences stray from this pattern. In sentences that begin with the adverbs Here or There, the subject follows the verb. When all nouns in the sentence follow the verb, it can be very difficult to figure out which of those nouns is the subject. What should you do in those situations?

Let's look at an example:

Incorrect: There is many reasons why I can't help you.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

This sentence contains two verb constructions is and can't help plus three nouns/pronouns reasons, I, and you. The subject is the noun that comes directly after the first verb: There + is/are + subject. The rest of the sentence is a subordinate clause.  Since the subject, many reasons, is plural, it takes the plural verb are.

Correct: There are many reasons why I can't help you.

The subordinate clause why I can't help you has no effect on subject-verb agreement in the main clause. This part of the sentence functions as a direct object.
 

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

Note that there is only one noun reasons and one verb are in the main clause.  Ignore nouns and verbs in dependent clauses and “filler” phrases when hunting for the subject and main verb.


Subject-Verb Agreement: Quantity Words
    

Subject-Verb Agreement

A. Introduction
B. Subject / Verb Separation
C. Collective Nouns
D. Plural / Singular
E. Neither / Either
F. Or / Nor
G. Subject / Verb / Object
H. Quantity Words
I. Sample Questions

 

The phrase the number of requires a singular verb. The phrase a number of requires a plural verb.

Consider the following sentences, both of which are grammatically correct:

The number of frogs in the pond is twice the number of fish.

A number of protestors are gathering outside the capitol building today.

The number refers to a specific but unspecified number, and takes a singular verb. A number of is an idiom that simply means “several” and takes a plural verb.

When you see either phrase – "the number of" or "a number of" – disregard the number of the noun following it because that noun will always be plural. To ensure that you don’t mistake the noun inside the prepositional phrase for the subject, always cross out prepositional phrases:
 
 



  

The noun following the number of does not impact the verb because the subject of the sentence is number, which is singular. The noun following a number of will always be plural, because a number of means “several.”

 

A quick summary of how to recognize subject-verb agreement errors. Look for ...

A subject and verb separated by a superfluous phrase set off by commas ("the sandwich"), a prepositional phrase, or an adjectival phrase ("filler phrases").
Collective nouns like majority, audience, family
Other confusing nouns like data/datum (data, often misused as a singular noun, is the plural of datum).
Separation by conjunctions such as "and," "nor," or "neither
."



Subject-Verb Agreement: Sample Questions
    

Subject-Verb Agreement

A. Introduction
B. Subject / Verb Separation
C. Collective Nouns
D. Plural / Singular
E. Neither / Either
F. Or / Nor
G. Subject / Verb / Object
H. Quantity Words
I. Sample Questions


 

Now test your comprehension with the following practice question. 

The three friends, Max included, was supposed to meet for dinner later that night.
 
A) was supposed to meet
B) was supposed to have met
C) were suppose to be meeting
D) were supposed to meet
E) they were supposed to be meeting
 

Read
The three friends, Max included, was supposed to meet for dinner later that night.

Dissect
Grammar issue presented: Subject/Verb Agreement

The subject of this sentence is friends which is plural.  The phrase Max included is set off by commas and, like any “sandwich” phrase, can be crossed out to help isolate the subject and the main verb:

The three friends, Max included, was…

The plural subject friends does not agree with the singular verb was. We need the plural verb were.

Compare
A) was supposed to meet
Subject / verb agreement? NO – three friends (plural) : was (singular)

B) was supposed to have met
Subject / verb agreement? NO – three friends (plural) : was (singular)

C) were suppose to be meeting
Subject / verb agreement? YES – three friends (plural) : were (plural)
Additional errors? Diction:suppose to be” should read “supposed to be”

D) were supposed to meet
Subject / verb agreement? YES – three friends (plural) : were (plural)
Additional errors? No

E) they were supposed to be meeting
Subject / verb agreement? YES – three friends (plural) : were (plural)
Additional errors? Pronouns: “they” is superfluous

(D) is correct.

 


The number of students chosen for the prestigious medical internship have more than doubled in the past fifteen years.

A) have more than doubled
B) have been more than doubling
C) has more than doubled
D) has been more than doubling
E) has doubled even more
 

Read
The number of students chosen for the prestigious medical internship have more than doubled in the past fifteen years.

Dissect
Grammar issue presented: Subject/Verb Agreement

The phrase The number of is a singular subject that does not agree with the plural verb have…doubled. We need the singular verb has…doubled

Compare
A) have more than doubled
Subject / verb agreement? NO – The number of students (singular) : have…doubled (plural)

B) have been more than doubling
Subject / verb agreement? NO – The number of students (singular) : have…doubling (plural)

C) has more than doubled
Subject / verb agreement? YES – The number of students (singular) : has…doubled (singular)
Additional errors? NO

D) has been more than doubling
Subject / verb agreement? YES – The number of students (singular) : has been…doubling (singular)
Additional errors? Verb tense: The verb form “has been…doubling” is inappropriate for an action that has already been completed.

E) has doubled even more
Subject / verb agreement? YES – The number of students (singular) : has doubled (singular)
Additional errors? Idioms: “has doubled even more” is the wrong idiom to express the notion of something “more than doubling.” 

(C) is correct.


Following intense debate, the faculty has approved the measure to increase class size by 15% over the next four years.

A) the faculty has approved the measure to increase
B) the faculty has approved the measure and increased
C) the faculty have approved the measure to increase
D) the faculty have given their approval to the measure to increase
E) the faculty, having approved the measure to increase
 

Read
Following intense debate, the faculty has approved the measure to increase class size by 15% over the next four years.

Dissect
Grammar issue presented: Subject/Verb Agreement


The collective noun faculty refers to the members of the faculty as a collective body; the members of the faculty acted as one in making the decision to approve the measure. We therefore need the singular verb has approved.

Compare
A) the faculty has approved the measure to increase
Subject/verb agreement: YES – faculty (singular) : has approved (singular)
Additional errors? NO

B) the faculty has approved the measure and increased
Subject/verb agreement: YES – faculty (singular) : has approved (singular)
Additional errors? Verb tense: the faculty has made the decision “to increase“class size

C) the faculty have approved the measure to increase
Subject/verb agreement: NO – faculty (singular) : have approved (plural)

D) the faculty have given their approval to the measure to increase
Subject/verb agreement: NO – faculty (singular) : have approved (plural)

E) the faculty, having approved the measure to increase
Subject/verb agreement: NO – faculty (singular) : have approved (plural)

(A) is correct.



Without proper funding and a better campaign strategy, there is no chances that our candidate will be elected to office.

A) there is no chances that
B) there can be no chance for
C) there is no chance that
D) there are no chances for
E) there will be no chances for
 

Read
Without proper funding and a better campaign strategy, there is no chances that our candidate will be elected to office.

Dissect
Grammar issue presented: Subject/Verb Agreement, Idioms


The introductory phrase Without proper funding…strategy does not affect subject-verb agreement in the main clause. The singular verb is does not agree with the plural subject chances. The correct idiom is there is no chance that, so we need the singular verb is and the singular noun chance.

Compare
A) there is no chances that
Subject / verb agreement? NO – is (singular) : chances (plural)

B) there can be no chance for
Subject / verb agreement? YES – can be (singular or plural) : chance (singular)
Additional errors? Diction: The preposition “for” is incorrect unless it is accompanied by the infinitive “to win” after "our candidate," which it is not.

C) there is no chance that
Subject / verb agreement? YES – is (singular) : chance (singular)
Additional errors? NO

D) there are no chances for
Subject / verb agreement? YES – are (plural) : chances (plural)
Additional errors? Diction: The preposition “for” is incorrect unless it is accompanied by the infinitive “to win” after "our candidate," which it is not.

E) there will be no chances for
Subject / verb agreement? YES – will be (singular or plural) : chances (plural)
Additional errors? Diction: the preposition “for” is incorrect unless it is accompanied by the infinitive “to win” after "our candidate," which it is not.

(C) is correct.



Some members of the tribe has been protesting the recent passage of hunting laws applying to indigenous populations.

A) members of the tribe has been protesting
B) members of the tribe have been protesting
C) tribe members has been protesting
D) tribe members will have been protesting
E) members of the tribe, having protested
 

Read
Some members of the tribe has been protesting the recent passage of hunting laws applying to indigenous populations.

Dissect
Grammar issue presented: Subject/Verb Agreement

The plural subject Some members does not agree with the singular verb has been protesting. To help isolate the subject and verb, cross out any prepositional phrases, which do not impact agreement in the main clause:

Some members of the tribe has been protesting the recent passage of hunting laws applying to indigenous populations.

Note that here, the subject is Some members, which is the same as saying Some of the members. This construction requires the plural verb have been protesting.

 

Compare
A) members of the tribe has been protesting
Subject / verb agreement? NO – Some members (plural) : has been protesting (singular)

B) members of the tribe have been protesting
Subject / verb agreement? YES – Some members (plural) : have been protesting (plural)
Additional errors? NO

C) tribe members has been protesting
Subject / verb agreement? NO – Some tribe members (plural)/ has been protesting (singular)

D) tribe members will have been protesting
Subject / verb agreement? YES – Some tribe members (plural) : will have been protesting (plural)
Additional errors? Verb tense: “will have been protesting” implies that the action takes place in the future, but the protest is happening now.

E) members of the tribe, having protested
Subject / verb agreement? NO – Agreement does not apply here because the main clause has no verb.

(B) is correct.


After she attended the career fair, many more resources were at Philippa’s disposal, including job boards, new contacts, and numerous books and pamphlets to help her improve her resume and cover letter.

A) many more resources were at Philippa’s disposal
B) at Philippa’s disposal were many more resources
C) there were many more resources at Philippa’s disposal
D) Philippa, at her disposal, had many more resources
E) Philippa had many more resources at her disposal

Read
After she attended the career fair, many more resources were at Philippa’s disposal, including job boards, new contacts, and numerous books and pamphlets to help her improve her resume and cover letter.

Dissect
Grammar issue presented: Modifiers (misplaced modifiers)


The introductory phrase includes the pronoun “she,” so we know that this modifier must refer to Philippa. However, the phrase “many more resources” is next to the modifying phrase. The word “Philippa” must immediately follow the comma.

Compare
A) many more resources were at Philippa’s disposal
Modifier used correctly? NOAfter she attended the career fair is followed by many more resources

B) at Philippa’s disposal were many more resources
Modifier used correctly? NOAfter she attended the career fair is followed by at Philippa’s disposal

C) there were many more resources at Philippa’s disposal
Modifier used correctly? NOAfter she attended the career fair is followed by there were

D) Philippa, at her disposal, had many more resources
Modifier used correctly? YES After she attended the career fair is followed by Philippa
Additional errors? Awkward construction: The correct expression is “had x at her disposal.”

E) Philippa had many more resources at her disposal
Modifier used correctly? YESAfter she attended the career fair is followed by Philippa.
Additional errors? NO

(E) is correct.



The results of the study clearly indicates a reduction in the number of useable pounds that can be salvaged from an average ton of recyclable goods.

A) indicates a reduction
B) indicates that a reduction
C) indicating a reducing
D) indicate a reducing
E) indicate a reduction
 

Read
The results of the study clearly indicates a reduction in the number of useable pounds that can be salvaged from an average ton of recycled goods.

Dissect
Grammar issue presented: subject/verb agreement

The subject of this sentence is the plural noun results.  The prepositional phrase of the study can be crossed out to help isolate the subject and verb:

The results of the study clearly indicates a reduction…

The singular verb indicates does not agree with the plural subject, results. We need the plural verb indicate.

Compare
A) indicates a reduction
Subject / verb agreement? NO – results (plural) : indicates (singular)

B) indicates that a reduction
Subject / verb agreement? NO – results (plural) : indicates (singular)
Additional errors? None

C) indicating a reducing
Subject / verb agreement? NO – results (plural) : indicating (wrong verb form)

D) indicate a reducing
Subject / verb agreement? YES – results (plural) : indicating (plural)
Additional errors? Diction: The correct expression is “a reduction in,” not “a reducing in.”

E) indicate a reduction
Subject / verb agreement? YES – results (plural) : indicate (singular)
Additional errors? No

(E) is correct. 


1. The president of Costa Rica, along with two vice presidents, are elected for a four-year term by the people.

A) are elected for a four-year term by the people
B) are elected, by the people, for a four-year term
C) is elected for a four-year term by the people
D) are elected for four-year terms by the people
E) is elected for four-year terms by the people

 

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
The president of Costa Rica, along with two vice-presidents, are elected for a four-year term by the people.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
Grammar issue presented: Subject/Verb Agreement (subject/verb separation)

The sandwich phrase along with two vice-presidents separates the subject, the president of Costa Rica (singular), from the verb are (plural). To help isolate the subject and verb, cross out the "sandwich" phrase as well as any prepositional phrases:

The president of Costa Rica, along with two vice presidents, are elected....

The noun president is singular and does not agree with the plural verb are. We need the singular verb is.


A) are elected for a four-year term by the people
Subject / verb agreement? NO - (president : are)

B) are elected, by the people, for a four-year term
Subject / verb agreement? NO - (president : are)

C) is elected for a four-year term by the people
Subject / verb agreement? YES - (president : is)
Additional errors? NO

D) are elected for four-year terms by the people
Subject / verb agreement? NO - (president : are)

E) is elected for four-year terms by the people
Subject / verb agreement? YES - (president : is)
Additional errors? Change in meaning: four-year terms

(C) is correct.


2. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which contains 120,000 objects from prehistoric times through the Greco-Roman period, are home to one of the most impressive collections of ancient Egyptian artifacts.

A) which contains 120,000 objects from prehistoric times through the Greco-Roman period, are home to
B) which contain 120,000 objects from prehistoric times through the Greco-Roman period, are home to
C) containing 120,000 objects from prehistoric times through the Greco-Roman period, are home to
D) which is containing 120,000 objects from prehistoric times through the Greco-Roman period, are home to
E) which contains 120,000 objects from prehistoric times through the Greco-Roman period, is home to

 

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which contains 120,000 objects from prehistoric times through the Greco-Roman period, are home to one of the most impressive collections of ancient Egyptian artifacts.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
Grammar issue presented: Subject/Verb Agreement (subject/verb separation)

The phrase which contains 120,000 objects from prehistoric times through the Greco-Roman period separates The Egyptian Museum in Cairo (singular) from the verb are (plural). To help isolate the subject and verb, cross out the "sandwich" phrase as well as any prepositional phrases:

The Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which contains 120,000 objects from prehistoric times through the Greco-Roman period, are home to…

The singular noun Museum does not agree with the plural verb are.  We need the singular verb is.


A) which contains 120,000 objects from prehistoric times through the Greco-Roman period, are home to
Subject / verb agreement? NO - museum : are

B) which contain 120,000 objects from prehistoric times through the Greco-Roman period, are home to
Subject / verb agreement? NO - museum : are
Additional errors? Agreement: Contain (plural) does not agree with Museum (singular)

C) containing 120,000 objects from prehistoric times through the Greco-Roman period, are home to
Subject / verb agreement? NO - museum : are

D) which is containing 120,000 objects from prehistoric times through the Greco-Roman period, are home to
Subject / verb agreement? NO - museum : are

E) which contains 120,000 objects from prehistoric times through the Greco-Roman period, is home to
Subject / verb agreement: YES - museum : is
Additional error? NO

(E) is correct.

3. A number of colorful glass vases were displayed in the store window.

A) were displayed in the store window
B) was displaying in the store window
C) was displayed in the store window
D) displayed in the store window
E) was being displayed in the store window


Read

A number of colorful glass vases were displayed in the store window.


Grammar issue presented: Subject/Verb Agreement (Quantity Words)


"A number of" always takes a plural verb
"The number of" always takes a singular verb

The subject is the idiom A number of. To help isolate the subject and verb, remember to cross out prepositional phrases:

A number of colorful glass vases were displayed…

The plural subject A number (of colorful glass vases) correctly agrees with the plural verb were.


A) were displayed in the store window
Subject/verb agreement? YES - a number of : were displayed
Additional errors? NO

B) was displaying in the store window
Subject/verb agreement? NO - a number of : was displaying
Additional errors? Verb form: displaying is the wrong form; displayed is correct.

C) was displayed in the store window
Subject/verb agreement? NO - a number of : was displayed

D) displayed in the store window
Subject/verb agreement? NO - part of the verb (was : were) is missing

E) was being displayed in the store window
Subject/verb agreement? NO - a number of : was displayed

(A) is correct.


4. Neither of our school’s students nominated for the national spelling bee were able to win the competition.

A) Neither of our school’s students nominated for the national spelling bee were
B) Neither of our school’s students nominated for the national spelling bee was
C) Neither of the students from our school nominated for the national spelling bee were
D) Neither of the students nominated for the national spelling bee from our school were
E) Neither one of our school’s students who was nominated for the national spelling bee was
 


Neither of our school’s students nominated for the national spelling bee were able to win the competition.


Grammar issue presented: Subject/Verb Agreement (neither/either)

"Neither" is always a singular subject and thus takes a singular verb. The original sentence uses the verb were, which is plural. To help isolate the subject and verb, cross off prepositional phrases:

Neither of our school’s students nominated for the national spelling bee were able…

The singular subject Neither does not agree with the plural verb were.  We need the singular verb was.


A) Neither of our school’s students nominated for the national spelling bee were
Subject/verb agreement: NO - neither : were

B) Neither of our school’s students nominated for the national spelling bee was
Subject/verb agreement: YES - neither : was
Additional errors? NO

C) Neither of the students from our school nominated for the national spelling bee were
Subject/verb agreement: NO - neither : were

D) Neither of the students nominated for the national spelling bee from our school were
Subject/verb agreement: NO - neither : were

E) Neither one of our school’s students who was nominated for the national spelling bee was
Subject/verb agreement: YES - neither : were
Additional errors? Wordy: neither one, who was.

(B) is correct.

5. Everybody at the party love the chocolate cake Shelley made.

A) Everybody at the party love the chocolate cake Shelley made.
B) Everybody at the party loving the chocolate cake Shelley made.
C) Everybody at the party loves the chocolate cake Shelley made.
D) Everybody love the chocolate cake Shelley made at the party.
E) Everybody loves the chocolate cake Shelley made at the party.
 


Everybody at the party love the chocolate cake Shelley made.


Grammar issue presented:Subject/Verb Agreement (plural/singular)

Everybody is a singular subject and thus takes a singular verb. Love is the plural form of the verb. To help isolate the subject and verb, remember to cross out prepositional phrases:

Everybody at the party love…

The singular subject Everybody does not agree with the plural verb love.  We need the singular verb loves.


A) Everybody at the party love the chocolate cake Shelley made.
Subject/verb agreement? NO - everybody : love

B) Everybody at the party loving the chocolate cake Shelley made.
Subject/verb agreement? NO - the verb is in the wrong form; it should read is/are loving.

C) Everybody at the party loves the chocolate cake Shelley made.
Subject/verb agreement? YES - everybody : loves
Additional errors? NO

D) Everybody love the chocolate cake Shelley made at the party.
Subject/verb agreement? NO - everybody : love

E) Everybody loves the chocolate cake Shelley made at the party.
Subject/verb agreement? YES - everybody : loves
Additional errors? Change in meaning: The phrase the cake Shelley made at the party indicates that Shelley made the cake while she was at the party.

(C) is correct.

6. The public are receiving the new mayor well though she was mostly unheard of prior to the election.

A) The public are receiving the new mayor well though she was
B) The public receive the new mayor well though she was
C) The public is receiving the new mayor well though she was
D) The public is receiving the new mayor well though she is
E) The public are receiving the new mayor well though she is


The public are receiving the new mayor well though she was mostly unheard of prior to the election.


Grammar issue presented: Subject/Verb Agreement (collective nouns)

Public, although made up of individual members, functions as a singular group and thus takes a singular verb. Are is plural.


A) The public are receiving the new mayor well though she was
Subject/verb agreement? NO - public : are

B) The public receive the new mayor well though she was
Subject/verb agreement? NO - public : receive

C) The public is receiving the new mayor well though she was
Subject/verb agreement? YES - (public : is)
Additional errors? NO

D) The public is receiving the new mayor well though she is
Subject/verb agreement? YES - public : is
Additional errors? Verb form: "she is unheard of" – the mayor used to be unheard of, but now is known to the public.
We need the past-tense verb was.

E) The public are receiving the new mayor well though she is
Subject/verb agreement? NO - public : are
Additional errors? Verb form: "she is unheard of" – the mayor used to be unheard of, but now is known to the public. We need the past-tense verb "was."

(C) is correct.

7. We don’t yet know whom it will be, but eventually either my brother or I are going to take over the family business.

A) either my brother or I are going to take over the family business
B) either my brother nor I are going to take over the family business
C) either my brother or I will be going to take over the family business
D) either my brother or I taking over the family business
E) either my brother or I am going to take over the family business
 


We don’t yet know whom it will be, but eventually either my brother or I are going to take over the family business.


Grammar issue presented: Subject/Verb Agreement (or / nor)

If two subjects are joined by or or nor, the verb should agree with the subject that is closer to it. In this case, the verb are going is plural, and the subject I is singular. We need the singular verb is going.


A) either my brother or I are going to take over the family business
Subject/verb agreement: NO - I : are

B) either my brother nor I are going to take over the family business
Subject/verb agreement: NO - This sentence uses the nonexistent expression either…nor. It is always eitheror OR neithernor.
Agreement does not apply in this case.

C) either my brother or I will be going to take over the family business
Subject/verb agreement: YES - I : will take
Additional errors? Awkward construction: The phrase "will be going" is awkward and unnecessarily wordy.

D) either my brother or I taking over the family business
Subject/verb agreement: NO - missing verb - I : (are going to be) taking

E) either my brother or I am going to take over the family business
Subject/verb agreement: YES - I : am
Additional errors? NO

(E) is correct.

8. Next to me on the bench sits two older women.

A) on the bench sits two older women
B) on the bench sit two older women
C) two older women sitting on the bench
D) sit on the bench two older women
E) two older women sits on the bench
 


Next to me on the bench sits two older women.


Grammar issue presented: Subject/Verb Agreement (subject/verb/object)

In this sentence, the verb sits precedes the plural subject, two older women.



A) on the bench sits two older women
Subject / verb agreement? NO - sits : two older women

B) on the bench sit two older women
Subject / verb agreement? YES - sit : two older women
Additional errors? NO

C) two older women sitting on the bench
Subject / verb agreement? NO - missing verb - two older women : (are) sitting

D) sit on the bench two older women
Subject / verb agreement? YES - sit : two older women
Additional errors? Awkward construction: Next to me sit on the bench two older women.

E) two older women sits on the bench
Subject / verb agreement? NO - two older women : sits

(B) is correct.


Section V-2 Modifiers

Modifiers

A. Introduction
B. Adjectives and Adverbs
C. Adjectives and Adverbs with Sense Verbs
D. Misplaced Modifiers
E. Sample Questions


Modifiers are words, phrases, or clauses that restrict or provide extra information about other words, phrases, or clauses. Adjectives (the red car, the happy child) and adverbs (he runs quickly) are modifiers.

Adjectives modify nouns or pronouns.
Adverbs modify verbs or adjectives.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.


Entire phrases can also be used as modifiers.
Modifying phrases function in the same way as single-word modifiers, but because they're often buried in an already complicated sentence, they can be harder to spot than adjectives and adverbs. Lengthy modifiers appear quite often on the GMAT. This chapter will give you more detailed tips and methods to recognize these modifiers.

For general reference, keep this rule in mind: any part of a sentence that adds extra information can be considered a modifier. "Extra information" is anything that can be removed from the sentence without affecting the meaning or structure of the main clause.

Our list of common modifier errors begins with adjectives and adverbs, and then considers phrases and clauses.


 
 


Modifiers: Adjectives and Adverbs
    

Modifiers

A. Introduction
B. Adjectives and Adverbs
C. Adjectives and Adverbs with Sense Verbs
D. Misplaced Modifiers
E. Sample Questions


Errors in the Use of Adjectives and Adverbs

The first step in identifying modifiers is to read the sentence and look for descriptive words. You should then look at each descriptive word and try to determine whether it is an adjective or an adverb.

  1. An adjective describes a noun or pronoun and answers the questions: how many, which one, what kind?

    She is a good tennis player. (What kind of tennis player is she?)
    This is an easy exercise. (What kind of exercise is it?)

  2. An adverb describes a verb, an adjective or another adverb and answers the questions: when, where, how, why, and to what extent?

    She plays tennis well. (How does she play?)
    This exercise is relatively easy. (To what extent is it easy?)

An easy way to identify adverbs and to distinguish them from adjectives is to look at the ending. Most adverbs are formed by adding -ly to the adjective: He worked quickly.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.


However, there are a few exceptions to this rule that you should memorize if you're not already familiar with them. Here's a list of common exceptions
:

  Exceptions
The following irregular adverbs do not end in —ly.
Their corresponding adjectives appear to the left.
 
Adjective
Adverb
 
  early early (ends in -ly, but so does the adjective)  
  fast; faster; fastest fast; faster; fastest  
  good well, ill (meaning "badly," as in "to think ill of")  
  better; best better; best  
  hard hard ("hardly" means "almost not")  
  late late ("lately" means "recently")  
  worse; worst worse; worst  
  little little (meaning "not much," or "not at all")  
  more; most more; most  
  less; least less; least  
  much much  
  very very  
  far; farther; farthest far; farther; farthest  
  further; furthest further; furthest  
  near; nearer; nearest near; nearer; nearest ("nearly" means "almost")  
  high; higher; highest high; higher; highest ("highly" means "very," or "very well," as in "to think highly of")  
  low; lower; lowest low; lower; lowest ("lowly" means "humble," adj., or "in a low position," adv.)  
  wide; wider; widest wide; wider; widest ("widely" means "generally")  
  long; longer; longest long; longer; longest  
  short; shorter; shortest short; shorter; shortest (several meanings; "shortly" means "soon")  
  deep; deeper; deepest deep; deeper; deepest ("deeply" means "very")  
  ago ago  


  More Exceptions

The following irregular adverbs do not end in —ly.
 

 


either (meaning "also")
pretty (meaning "moderately")
quite
rather
almost
tall (meaning "to a given standard," as in "to stand tall")

After you've identified the word as an adjective or adverb, the next step is to determine whether it is used correctly.

She is a (real / really) good swimmer.

This sentence contains a descriptive word good modifying a noun swimmer and another descriptive word real modifying the adjective good. Are these modifying words used correctly? Break the sentence into parts:

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.


As you can see, the word good modifies swimmer. Good is an adjective, and swimmer is a noun. Adjectives modify nouns, so no error there. But notice the word real, used to modify the adjective good. Real is an adjective — and only adverbs modify adjectives.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

In this version, the adjective real, which modifies the adjective good, is replaced with the adverb really. Note the difference: really is real with an —ly tacked on.

Incorrect: She is a real good swimmer.

Correct: She is a really good swimmer.

Incorrect: The new student speaks poor.

Correct: The new student speaks poorly.

This sentence contains one descriptive word modifying a noun and one descriptive word modifying a verb. In both versions, the adjective new is used to modify the noun student, which is correct.

In the first version, however, the word poor is used to modify the verb speaks. But poor is an adjective - and adjectives cannot modify verbs. Therefore, the second version correctly replaces the adjective poor with the adverb poorly. Once again, the difference between the two is a mere, but necessary, -ly.
 


Modifiers: Adjectives and Adverbs with Sense Verbs
    

Modifiers

A. Introduction
B. Adjectives and Adverbs
C. Adjectives and Adverbs with Sense Verbs
D. Misplaced Modifiers
E. Sample Questions


Errors in the use of Adjectives and Adverbs with Sense Verbs

The following verbs require adjective modifiers:

sound look smell taste feel seem

These verbs are all "sense verbs," or verbs that describe someone's sensation or feeling or perception. Unlike other verbs, they require adjective, not adverb, modifiers.

Incorrect: The strawberry shortcake tastes deliciously.

Correct: The strawberry shortcake tastes delicious.

Sense verbs convey personal opinions, thoughts, and perceptions in an inherently subjective manner – that is, they describe someone's personal experience. The sentence "The strawberry shortcake tastes delicious," has essentially the same meaning as "The strawberry shortcake tastes delicious to me," or "I think the strawberry shortcake tastes delicious." Because each sentence describes the attributes of the shortcake as seen through the eyes (and mouth) of an observer, each sentence should use the same version of the modifier: the delicious shortcake.

Another way to approach this sentence is to think about it as a "sandwich." When a sense verb is sandwiched between a noun and a modifier, the modifier should always agree with the noun.

Some sense verb modifiers are commonly misused in speech. Be especially careful with these; just because they sound right doesn't mean they are right. Sometimes these errors arise from the misinterpretation of a popular grammar rule. Here's a common example:

After she returned from the three-week vacation, she looked very well.

How many times have you heard someone say, "He looks well?" It probably sounds fine, but this sentence is actually a comment on the visual abilities of the man in question; it means something like, "He's skilled at looking." Pretty funny, right? But why is it wrong?

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Looking at the version above: if you place an adverb (well) directly after the verb looked, then the adverb modifies the verb. But we don't want to describe a verb — we want to describe a noun (or pronoun), in this case a woman who just came back from vacation.

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She
is a pronoun, and pronouns (which stand in for nouns) are modified with adjectives. Thus, the correct sentence fixes our modification problem by replacing the adverb "well" with the adjective good.

Incorrect: After she returned from the three-week vacation, she looked very well.

Correct: After she returned from the three-week vacation, she looked very good.


Modifiers: Misplaced Modifiers
    

Modifiers

A. Introduction
B. Adjectives and Adverbs
C. Adjectives and Adverbs with Sense Verbs
D. Misplaced Modifiers
E. Sample Questions


Location of Modification – Misplaced Modifiers

What's wrong with the following sentence?

Finally thinking clearly, the book was able to be understood by Rebecca.

The meaning of the sentence seems clear enough: Rebecca finally understood the book after she started thinking clearly.

But what does the sentence actually say? If you look closely, you'll see that the introductory phrase actually refers to "the book," not "Rebecca":

Finally thinking clearly, the book was able ...

This construction makes it seem as if the book were thinking clearly. What went wrong?

Modifiers can be groups of words – known as adjectival or adverbial phrases or clauses – that describe another part of the sentence. Like adjectives and adverbs, these multiple-word modifiers must be placed as close as possible to the word or group of words they're modifying.

Modifiers that fail to observe this rule are called "misplaced modifiers."

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

Even though the modifier is followed immediately by "the book," we might very easily assume that because a book can't think, we can overlook its placement in the sentence as the phrase "Finally thinking clearly" must refer to "Rebecca." According to the rules of English grammar, a modifier must always be placed as close as possible to the word it's modifying.

Incorrect: Finally thinking clearly, the book was able to be understood by Rebecca.

Correct: Finally thinking clearly, Rebecca was able to understand the book.

 

Try another example:

Upon arriving at the train station, his friends greeted Jay and took him immediately to his speaking engagement in Springfield.

Take a closer look: let's break it down and check to make sure that the modifiers are placed where they belong.


GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

First find the modifying phrase: look for a descriptive group of words set off by a comma or commas. Here, we have one phrase that looks like that: Upon arriving at the train station. After identifying the modifier, the next step is to figure out which word/s it should be modifying, and which word/s it actually is modifying. Because the modifier is right next to the phrase his friends, it sounds like Jay's friends are arriving, rather than Jay himself. We want Jay to be arriving at the station.

To correct the error, move the noun so that it sits right next to the phrase that modifies it.  Sometimes this requires making other small modifications to the sentence, such as changing the form of the verb:


Upon arriving at the train station, Jay was greeted by his friends, who immediately took him ...


Note the other small modifications that were needed to keep the sentence clear and grammatical: changing the verb form from active to passive and inserting the pronoun "who," etc.

Incorrect: Upon arriving at the train station, his friends greeted Jay and took him immediately to his speaking engagement in Springfield.

Correct: Upon arriving at the train station, Jay was greeted by his friends, who immediately took him to his speaking engagement in Springfield.

Misplaced modifiers won't always occur at the beginning of sentences; any descriptive phrase or clause is a potential misplaced modifier.


Descriptive phrases are not always set off by commas. These pronouns often indicate modifying phrases:

which (refers to things)
that
who (refers to people)
whose
whom

In addition to helping you identify modifying phrases, these pronouns can be helpful when you're trying to fix an awkwardly worded sentence

Sounds Funny: Joan's father, preferring meat to vegetables, made a breakfast of eggs and bacon every morning.

Better: Joan's father, who preferred meat to vegetables, made a breakfast of eggs and bacon every morning.

Sounds Funny: Your tea kettle, having a leak in the bottom, was thrown away last week.

Better: Your tea kettle, which had a leak in the bottom, was thrown away last week.

All four versions are grammatically correct, but the pronoun helps to clarify the sentence. This is especially important when two or more nouns precede the modifying phrase.

Note also the different uses of "who" and "which" in the examples above: "who" is used in the first example because it introduces a phrase that describes a person ("Joan's father"). "Which" is used to introduce a phrase that describes a thing (the "tea kettle"). "That" also is used to describe things, as opposed to people.

The words “only” and “almost” are often misplaced in GMAT sentences.

I only want to see you.

I want to see only you.

The first sentence means “I want to see you; I don’t want to do anything else with you.”  The second sentence means “I want to see no one but you.”  This is a significant change in meaning resulting from such a small change in word placement. 

 

Don't forget!

Its is the possessive of it, and it's is the contraction of it and is.

The dog licked its paw.

It's about to rain.



Modifiers: Sample Questions
    

Modifiers

A. Introduction
B. Adjectives and Adverbs
C. Adjectives and Adverbs with Sense Verbs
D. Misplaced Modifiers
E. Sample Questions


Test your comprehension with the following practice question.

The professor's consistent late arrival is offset somewhat by the remarkable quality of his lectures.

A) The professor's consistent late arrival
B) The consistent late arrival of the professor
C) The professor's consistently late arrival
D) Lately, the professor's arriving consistently
E) The professor's consistent late arriving

Read
The professor's consistent late arrival is offset somewhat by the remarkable quality of his lecture.

 

Dissect
Grammar issue presented: Modifiers (adjectives / adverbs)


There are several modifiers in this sentence: consistent, late, somewhat, and remarkable. In the underlined part of the sentence, we have the group consistent late arrival, where the adjective late correctly modifies the noun arrival, but the adjective consistent incorrectly modifies the adjective late. Adjectives cannot modify adjectives; only adverbs can modify adjectives. We need the adverb consistently.

 

Compare
A) The professor’s consistent late arrival
Modifiers used correctly? NO - consistent (adjective) modifies late (adjective)

B) The consistent late arrival of the professor
Modifiers used correctly? NO - consistent (adjective) modifies late (adjective)

C) The professor’s consistently late arrival
Modifiers used correctly? YES - consistently (adverb) modifies late (adjective)
Additional errors? NO


D) Lately, the professor’s arriving consistently
Modifiers used correctly? YES - consistently (adverb) modifies arriving
(verb)
Additional errors? Illogical meaning: This sentence requires a contrast between something negative (the professor’s late arrival) and something positive (the quality of his lectures). Here, the adjective late is moved to the front of the sentence, where it means something like “these days." Hence, there is no contrast and the sentence is illogical.

E) The professor's consistent late arriving
Modifiers used correctly? NO - consistent (adjective) modifies late (adjective)

(C) is correct.

 

 

 

The concerto sounds more sophisticatedly in the 200-year-old concert hall than it did in the practice room, which has decidedly inferior acoustics.

A) sounds more sophisticatedly
B) sound more sophisticatedly
C) sounds with greater sophistication
D) sounds more sophisticated
E) sound more sophisticated

Read
The concerto sounds more sophisticatedly in the 200-year-old concert hall than it did in the practice room, which has decidedly inferior acoustics.

Dissect
Grammar issue presented: Modifiers (adjectives / adverbs with sense verbs)


The sense verb sounds requires an adjective, not adverb, modifier. We need the adjective “sophisticated” rather than the adverb sophisticatedly.

Compare
A) sounds more sophisticatedly
Modifiers used correctly? NO Sophisticatedly (adverb) modifies sounds (sense verb).

B) sound more sophisticatedly
Modifiers used correctly? NO Sophisticatedly (adverb) modifies sound (sense verb).
Additional errors? Agreement: The singular noun “concerto” requires the singular verb “sounds.”

C) sounds with greater sophistication
Modifiers used correctly? NO Sophistication (noun) modifies sounds (sense verb).
Additional errors? Diction: The construction “sounds with” is ungrammatical.

D) sounds more sophisticated
Modifiers used correctly? YES Sophisticated (adjective) modifies sounds (sense verb).
Additional errors? NO

E) sound more sophisticated
Modifiers used correctly? YES Sophisticated (adjective) modifies sounds (sense verb).
Additional errors? Agreement: The singular noun “concerto” requires the singular verb “sounds.”

D) is correct.


EASY

1. Previously thought to have been extinct, a team of biologists rediscovered the New Caledonia crested gecko in 1994.

a) a team of biologists rediscovered the New Caledonia crested gecko in 1994.
b) a team of biologists, in 1994, rediscovered the New Caledonia crested gecko.
c) in 1994 the New Caledonia crested gecko was rediscovered by a team of biologists.
d) in 1994 a team of biologists rediscovered the New Caledonia crested gecko.
e) the New Caledonia crested gecko was rediscovered by a team of biologists in 1994.

 

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

Previously thought to have been extinct, a team of biologists rediscovered the New Caledonia crested gecko in 1994.

 

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

Grammar issue presented: Modifiers (misplaced modifiers)

The modifier “Previously thought to have been extinct” refers to “the New Caledonia crested gecko.” These two elements must be as close as possible to each other in the sentence.

 


A) a team of biologists rediscovered the New Caledonia crested gecko in 1994.
Modifier used correctly? NO – “Previously thought to have been extinct” is followed by “a team of biologists

B) a team of biologists, in 1994, rediscovered the New Caledonia crested gecko.
Modifier used correctly? NO – “Previously thought to have been extinct” is followed by “a team of biologists

C) in 1994 the New Caledonia crested gecko was rediscovered by a team of biologists.
Modifier used correctly? YES – “Previously thought to have been extinct” is followed by “the New Caledonia crested gecko.”
Additional errors? Awkward construction: The phrase “in 1994” gets in the way of the modifier and the noun being modified.

D) in 1994 a team of biologists rediscovered the New Caledonia crested gecko.
Modifier used correctly? NO – “Previously thought to have been extinct” is followed by “a team of biologists
Additional errors? Awkward construction: The phrase “in 1994” gets in the way of the modifier and the noun being modified.

E) the New Caledonia crested gecko was rediscovered by a team of biologists in 1994.
Modifier used correctly? YES – “Previously thought to have been extinct” is followed by “the New Caledonia crested gecko.”
Additional errors? NO

(E) is correct.

 

HARD

2. Erasmus's tomb lies inside the Basel Munster, located in Switzerland, an architectural monument which having survived medieval earthquakes, and remains one of Switzerland's most well-known buildings to this day.

A) Erasmus's tomb lies inside the Basel Munster, located in Switzerland, an architectural monument which having survived medieval earthquakes, and
B) Erasmus's tomb lies inside Switzerland's Basel Munster, an architectural monument that survived medieval earthquakes and
C) Switzerland's Basel Munster, an architectural monument that survived medieval earthquakes, houses Erasmus's tomb,
D) The Basel Munster, in Switzerland, an architectural monument which, having survived medieval earthquakes, is now home to the tomb of Erasmus and
E) The tomb of Erasmus, being housed inside Switzerland's Basel Munster, is an architectural monument that survived medieval earthquakes and

 

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

Erasmus's tomb lies inside the Basel Munster, located in Switzerland, an architectural monument which having survived medieval earthquakes, and remains one of Switzerland's most well-known buildings to this day.

 

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

Grammar issue presented: Modifiers (misplaced modifiers)

The modifier “an architectural monument” refers to “the Basel Munster.” These two elements must be next to each other in the sentence.


A) Erasmus's tomb lies inside the Basel Munster, located in Switzerland, an architectural monument which having survived medieval earthquakes, and
Modifier used correctly? NO – “an architectural monument” follows “Switzerland

B) Erasmus's tomb lies inside Switzerland's Basel Munster, an architectural monument that survived medieval earthquakes and
Modifier used correctly? YES – “an architectural monument” follows “Basel Munster
Additional errors? NO

C) Switzerland's Basel Munster, an architectural monument that survived medieval earthquakes, houses Erasmus's tomb,
Modifier used correctly? YES – “an architectural monument” follows “Basel Munster
Additional errors? Missing conjunction: this choice lacks the linking word “and” after “tomb.”

D) The Basel Munster, in Switzerland, an architectural monument which, having survived medieval earthquakes, is now home to the tomb of Erasmus and
Modifier used correctly? NO – “an architectural monument” follows “Switzerland

E) The tomb of Erasmus, being housed inside Switzerland's Basel Munster, is an architectural monument that survived medieval earthquakes and
Modifier used correctly? YES – “an architectural monument” follows “Basel Munster
Additional errors? Verb form: this choice uses the passive voice (“being housed”). It should be reworded so that “Basel Munster” is the subject of the sentence and can perform the action (“houses”).

(B) is correct.

 


Section V-3: Parallelism

Parallelism

A. Introduction
B. Lists of Verbs and Parallel Constructions
C. Lists of Adjectives or Adverbs
D. Comparisons
E. Correlative Pairs
F. Sample Questions



As a concept, parallelism means something very similar to what it means in mathematics. Think of parallel lines:







They're straight, they're equally spaced, and they're very clearly "parallel."

Think of the parts of a sentence as lined up, one on top of the next, along their own parallel lines. Consider the sentence "Joe was trying to decide between eating, running, and to walk to the store." There are three items in the list of activities Joe is considering, so separate these and imagine them on their own parallel lines:

eating
running
to walk

To be parallel, all verbs must look identical. In this case, one sticks out like a sore thumb: "to walk." Here's the correct version:

eating
running
walking

Parallel Structure
http://www.youtube.com/embed/tXl02zJzNJs
Video Courtesy of Kaplan GMAT

 

How to recognize parallelism
Parallelism is a rule of English grammar that demands consistency in a sentence's structure. Any lists of ideas, places, activities, or descriptions that have the same level of importance – whether they are words, phrases, or clauses - must be written in the same grammatical form. Some examples:

activities: running, biking, and hiking
places: the store, the museum, and the restaurant
ideas: how to read, how to write, and how to learn
descriptors: quickly, quietly, and happily

Note the grammatical consistency in each list. The activities all end in "-ing;" the places are all preceded by the article "the;" the ideas all begin with "how to;" the descriptors are all adverbs. In each list, whatever grammatical form is applied to one item is applied to all items. This rule (what applies to one must apply to all) is pretty much all you need to remember.


Parallelism: Lists of Verbs and Parallel Constructions
    

Parallelism

A. Introduction
B. Lists of Verbs and Parallel Constructions
C. Lists of Adjectives or Adverbs
D. Comparisons
E. Correlative Pairs
F. Sample Questions


You'll often see a list of three verbs, in which two agree, but one does not. In order for the sentence to be correct, all three verbs must agree:

Patty ate macaroons, drank soda and was dancing the tango.

This is a list of activities – more specifically, activities undertaken by Patty. Parallelism dictates that all the things Patty did must be in the same form. Since "all the things Patty did" are verbs, they must agree in tense and number. Do they?
 

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

This graphic identifies each verb form in the sentence: there are two singular, simple past tense verbs (ate and drank) and one singular, past progressive verb (was dancing). Because the verbs are placed together in a list, this cannot be correct. The verbs should all match:

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
 

This version correctly changes the mismatched past progressive verb, was dancing, to the simple past tense, danced, so that it matches the tense of the other verbs in the list, ate and drank. This sentence now exhibits proper parallelism.

Incorrect: Patty ate macaroons, drank soda and was dancing the tango.

Correct: Patty ate macaroons, drank soda and danced the tango.

Here's another example using a list of gerunds:

Incorrect: All business students should learn word processing, accounting, and how to program computers.

Correct: All business students should learn word processing, accounting, and computer programming.

The verb "to program" must be changed to "programming," because the rest of the verbs are already in the -ing form.

You'll often see lists of infinitives on the GMAT. These are the "to ___" verbs (to walk, to talk, to eat, to chat, to drink…). With infinitives, a very simple rule applies: the word "to" must either go either only before the first verb in the list, or before every verb in the list.

For example:

Correct: He likes to swim, to sail, and to dance.

Correct: He likes to swim, sail, and dance.

Incorrect: He likes to swim, sail, and to dance.

The first two sentences are equally acceptable variations. The third sentence is incorrect because it lacks consistency; the verb changes from to swim to sail, and then back to to dance. This violates the rules we've laid out.
 

 

List of infinitives: Options

To __________, __________, and __________.
To __________, to __________, and to __________.

The principle governing lists of infinitives applies to any words that might come before each item in a series: prepositions (in, on, by, with), articles (the, a, an), helping verbs (had, has, would) and possessives (his, her, our). Either repeat the word before every element in a series or include it only before the first item. Anything else violates the rules of parallelism.



Parallelism: Lists of Adjectives or Adverbs

Parallelism

A. Introduction
B. Lists of Verbs and Parallel Constructions
C. Lists of Adjectives or Adverbs
D. Comparisons
E. Correlative Pairs
F. Sample Questions

 
Just like verbs, adverbs and adjectives in a list must agree.
Descriptive words are easy to replace with wordy phrases, and test writers will try to trip you up by including a verb or phrase among a list of adjectives or adverbs:

On the morning of his fourth birthday, Johnny was giggly, energetic, and couldn't wait for the party to begin.

If you read through the sentence quickly, it might sound acceptable. However, the list includes one item that doesn't belong:
 


GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

This looks to be a list of adjectives until you reach the third item in the list: it's not an adjective, it's a verb. The "list of adjectives" won't be complete until the last item falls into step with the others:
 

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
 

This example replaces the verb phrase couldn't wait with the descriptive phrase very eager — which indeed includes an adjective. Note that this list is parallel even though one of the items in the list is modified.

Watch for consistency in item type as well as consistency of form.

Incorrect: On the morning of his fourth birthday, Johnny was giggly, energetic and couldn't wait for the party to begin.

Correct: On the morning of his fourth birthday, Johnny was giggly, energetic and very eager for the party to begin.
 

Parallelism: Comparisons

Parallelism

A. Introduction
B. Lists of Verbs and Parallel Constructions
C. Lists of Adjectives or Adverbs
D. Comparisons
E. Correlative Pairs
F. Sample Questions

Comparisons require both elements to be parallel. When you see comparison words or phrases such as "more than," "less than," "although," "rather than," etc, check to make sure the things being compared are grammatically parallel.

Incorrect: The professor published more papers last year than were published by all his colleagues combined.

Correct: The professor published more papers last year than all his colleagues combined.

For comparisons, the grammatical forms need to be balanced rather than identical. This means that while you need to include the same parts of speech in both elements of comparison, they do not necessarily need to be in the same order. The correct sentence above has one “noun + active verb” construction and one “active verb + noun” construction (the verb “did” is implied: than (did) all his colleagues combined).

Just as you can’t compare apples to oranges, you can’t compare two things with different grammatical structures.

Sometimes, you'll come across comparisons between multiple pronouns or a noun and a pronoun. In many cases, in order for the pronouns to be parallel, the pronouns must be identical.

Incorrect: Those who exercise in addition to maintaining a healthy diet are likely to be in better health than the people who maintain a healthy diet but don't exercise.

Correct: Those who exercise in addition to maintaining a healthy diet are likely to be in better health than those who maintain a healthy diet but don't exercise.

Here, people who exercise are being compared to people who don't exercise. In the first sentence, the pronoun "those who" in the first part of the sentence is matched with the noun "the people who" in the second part of the sentence. Notice how much cleaner and easier to understand the second sentence is, where the pronoun "those" stands in for "people" in both parts of the comparison.

Use the same pronoun for both elements of the comparison. Consider the sentence below:

Those who have strong work credentials and a college degree are more likely to be hired than one who has only the degree.

This sentence compares two types of people, but uses two different pronouns: "those" and "one."  This confuses the basis of comparison. The pronouns must match:

Those who have strong work credentials and a college degree are more likely to be hired than those who have only the degree.

OR

One who has strong work credentials and a college degree is more likely to be hired than one who has only the degree.

Both sentences are grammatically correct. It does not matter which pronoun you choose to use; all that matters is that they match, and that the verbs in the sentence agree with the chosen pronoun ("those" requires plural verbs, whereas "one" requires singular verbs).

Incorrect Incorrect: Those who have strong work credentials and a college degree are more likely to be hired than one who has only the degree.

Correct Correct: Those who have strong work credentials and a college degree are more likely to be hired than those who have only the degree.

Correct Correct: One who has strong work credentials and a college degree is more likely to be hired than one who has only the degree.

Be consistent: whichever pronoun you choose, use it all the way through.


Parallelism: Correlative Pairs

Parallelism

A. Introduction
B. Lists of Verbs and Parallel Constructions
C. Lists of Adjectives or Adverbs
D. Comparisons
E. Correlative Pairs
F. Sample Questions

Correlative pairs such as either…or, neither…nor, not only…but also, and whether…or also require parallelism. When you see one of these pairs in a sentence, check to make sure that the words or groups of words immediately following each conjunction are in the same form.

Consider the following sentence:

Either I will attend the show, or they will be attending.

This sentence uses the correlative pair "either…or" to present a set of two options. Are both in the same form? Compare the structures immediately following each conjunction:

(Either) I will attend: pronoun + future-tense verb

(or) they will be attending: pronoun + future-progressive-tense verb

Both constructions use a pronoun followed by a verb, but the verbs do not match.  Parallelism dictates that both verbs must be in the same form:

Either I will attend the show, or they will.

OR

Either I will be attending the show, or they will (be attending).

The first version has two future tense verbs, while the second version has two future progressive tense verbs.  Both tenses are appropriate for describing an event of some duration that will take place sometime in the future.

http://www.800score.com/content/sentence_files/bullet-red.gif Incorrect: Either I will attend the show, or they will be attending.

http://www.800score.com/content/sentence_files/bullet.gif Correct: Either I will attend the show, or they will.

http://www.800score.com/content/sentence_files/bullet.gif Correct: Either I will be attending the show, or they will (be attending).

Both latter versions are correct.

Watch out for matching clauses or phrases with single words.

Consider the following sentence:

Not only has the captain assigned all his men to the case, but also a private detective.

This sentence reads well at first glance, but it contains a hidden grammar error.

Compare the structure of the groups of words following each conjunction in the "Not only…but also" pair:

(Not only) has the captain put all his men on the case: clause

(but also) a private detective: noun

These two structures definitely do not match. A better way to write this sentence is:

The captain has assigned to the case not only all his men, but also a private detective.

Here, "not only" and "but also" are both followed by nouns: "men" and "private detective." 

Alternatively, both can be followed by phrases:

The captain has not only assigned all his men to the case, but also hired a private detective.

Here, "not only" and "but also" are both followed by verb phrases: "assigned all his men" and "hired a private detective." Note that both verbs must be in the same form.

 

Final tips on recognizing parallelism
Look for:

Lists
Correlative pairs
Comparisons using multiple pronouns


Parallelism: Sample Questions

Parallelism

A. Introduction
B. Lists of Verbs and Parallel Constructions
C. Lists of Adjectives or Adverbs
D. Comparisons
E. Correlative Pairs
F. Sample Questions



His coworkers praised both his determination and the way he paid attention to detail.

A) and the way he paid attention to detail
B) and also praised his attention to detail
C) and his attention to detail
D) they praised the way he paid attention to detail
E) also they praised his attention to detail

Read
His coworkers praised both his determination and the way he paid attention to detail.

Dissect
Grammar issue presented: Parallelism (correlative pairs)

This sentence uses the correlative pair "Both…and" to present two characteristics. Both characteristics should be in the same form, but one is a possessive pronoun + noun (his determination), while the other is a phrase (the way he paid attention to detail). We need another possessive pronoun + noun: "his attention to detail."

Compare
A)
 and the way he paid attention to detail
It is parallel? NO – his determination (pronoun + noun) / the way he paid attention to detail (phrase)

B) and also praised his attention to detail
Is it parallel? NO – his determination (pronoun + noun) / praised his attention to detail (verb phrase)

C) and his attention to detail
Is it parallel? YES – his determination (pronoun + noun) / his attention to detail (pronoun + noun)
Additional errors? NO

D) they praised the way he paid attention to detail
Is it parallel? NO – This choice lacks the second conjunction (and) in the correlative pair Both…and

E) also they praised his attention to detail
It is parallel? NO – This choice lacks the second conjunction (and) in the correlative pair Both…and

(C) is correct.



The art studio is spacious, pleasantly cluttered, and has good lighting.

A) and has good lighting
B) and being well-lit
C) and is lit well
D) and well-lit
E) and the lighting is good

Read
The art studio is spacious, pleasantly cluttered, and has good lighting.

Dissect
Grammar issue presented: Parallelism (lists of adjectives)

This sentence presents a list of qualities. The first two are adjectives (“spacious” and “pleasantly cluttered”), while the third is a verb phrase (“has good lighting”).  The third quality must also be an adjective.

Compare
A) and has good lighting
Is it parallel? NO spacious, pleasantly cluttered (adjectives) : has good lighting (verb phrase)

B) and being well-lit
Is it parallel? NO spacious, pleasantly cluttered (adjectives) : being well-lit (verb phrase)

C) and is lit well
Is it parallel? NOspacious, pleasantly cluttered (adjectives) : is lit well (verb phrase)

D) and well-lit
Is it parallel? YESspacious, pleasantly cluttered (adjectives) : well-lit (adjective)
Additional errors? NO

E) and the lighting is good
Is it parallel? NOspacious, pleasantly cluttered (adjectives) : the lighting is good (clause)

(D) is correct.



The school board requested that a waiver be obtained and that the residency requirements are reviewed.

A) that the residency requirements are reviewed
B) the residency requirements will be reviewed
C) the residency requirements reviewed
D) to review the residency requirements
E) a review of the residency requirements

Read
The school board requested that a waiver be obtained and that the residency requirements are reviewed.

Dissect
Grammar issue presented: Parallelism (lists of verbs)

This sentence presents a list of two actions. The first verb, "be obtained," is in the passive voice and is governed by the idiom “request that x be y.” The second verb must also be in the form (be) reviewed.

Compare
A) that the residency requirements are reviewed
Is it parallel? NObe obtained : are reviewed

B) the residency requirements will be reviewed
Is it parallel? NO be obtained : will be reviewed

C) the residency requirements reviewed
Is it parallel? YES be obtained : (be) reviewed
Additional errors? NO

D) to review the residency requirements
Is it parallel? NObe obtained : to review

E) a review of the residency requirements
Is it parallel? NO be obtained : a review

(C) is correct.



Some of the many renovations set for Memorial Field in the coming years include building additional seating, improving safety, and the construction of a new varsity athletics center.

(A) and the construction of a new varsity athletics center
(B) and constructing a new varsity athletics center
(C) and also the construction of a new varsity athletics center
(D) and a new varsity athletics center
(E) and a new varsity athletics center under construction

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
Some of the many renovations set for Memorial Field in the coming years include building additional seating, improving safety, and the construction of a new varsity athletics center.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
Grammar issue presented: Parallelism (lists of verbs)

All items in a list must be parallel, meaning they must be in the same grammatical form. Every verb in the list must therefore take on an -ing ending.


A) and the construction of a new varsity athletics center
Is it parallel? NO – building : improving : the construction

B) and constructing a new varsity athletics center
Is it parallel? YES – building : improving : constructing
Additional errors? NO

C) and also the construction of a new varsity athletics center
Is it parallel? NO – building : improving : the construction

D) and a new varsity athletics center
Is it parallel? NO – building : improving : a new varsity athletics center

E) and a new varsity athletics center under construction
Is it parallel? NO – building : improving : a new varsity athletics center

(B) is correct.



Richard is not only a terrific pianist, but also great at playing hockey.

A) Richard is not only a terrific pianist, but also great at playing hockey.
B) Richard not only is a terrific pianist, but is also great at playing hockey.
C) Not only great at playing hockey, Richard also is a terrific pianist.
D) Richard is not only a terrific pianist, but also a great hockey player.
E) Also great at playing hockey, Richard is a terrific pianist.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
Richard is not only a terrific pianist, but also great at playing hockey.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
Grammar issue presented: Parallelism (correlative pairs)

Not only…but also” is a correlative pair, so the elements immediately following each conjunction must be parallel.


A) Richard is not only a terrific pianist, but also great at playing hockey.
Is it parallel? NO – a terrific pianist (noun) : great at playing hockey (adjective)

B) Richard not only is a terrific pianist, but is also great at playing hockey.
Is it parallel? NO – is a terrific pianist (verb) : great at playing hockey (adjective)

C) Not only great at playing hockey, Richard also is a terrific pianist.
Is it parallel? NO – great at playing hockey (adjective) / is a terrific pianist (verb)

D) Richard is not only a terrific pianist, but also a great hockey player.
Is it parallel? YES – a terrific pianist (noun) : a great hockey player (noun)
Additional errors? NO

E) Also great at playing hockey, Richard not only is a terrific pianist.
Is it parallel? NO – great at playing hockey (adjective) / is a terrific pianist (verb)

(D) is correct.



The philosophical doctrine of Incompatibility posits an inherent irreconcilability among the doctrine of Determinism, which holds that each state of affairs is necessitated by the states of affairs that preceded it, and the existence of free will.

A) among the doctrine of Determinism, which holds that each state of affairs is necessitated by the states of affairs that preceded it, and the existence of free will
B) between the doctrine of Determinism, holding each state of affairs as necessitated by the states of affairs that preceded it, and free will existing
C) in the doctrine of Determinism, which holds the idea that each state of affairs is necessitated by the states of affairs preceding, and the existence of free will
D) between the doctrine of Determinism, which holds that each state of affairs is necessitated by the states of affairs preceding it, and the existence of free will
E) among the doctrine of Determinism, which holds that each state of affairs may be necessitated by the states of affairs preceding it, and free will existing

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
The philosophical doctrine of Incompatibility posits an inherent irreconcilability among the doctrine of Determinism, which holds that each state of affairs is necessitated by the states of affairs that preceded it, and the existence of free will.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.
Grammar issue presented: Word Choice and Parallelism (comparisons)

When comparing only two things, the proper word to use is between, not among, which is used in reference to more than two things. Furthermore, the construction “between x and y” requires that x and y be parallel.


A) among the doctrine of Determinism, which holds that each state of affairs is necessitated by the states of affairs that preceded it, and the existence of free will
Correct word choice? NO – this comparison should use the word “between” (not “among”)
Is it parallel? YES – the doctrine of Determinism (noun phrase) : the existence of free will (noun phrase)

B) between the doctrine of Determinism, holding each state of affairs as necessitated by the states of affairs that preceded it, and free will existing
Correct word choice? YES – this comparison uses the word “between”
Is it parallel? NO – the doctrine of Determinism (noun phrase) : free will existing (verb phrase)

C) in the doctrine of Determinism, which holds the idea that each state of affairs is necessitated by the states of affairs preceding, and the existence of free will
Correct word choice? NO – this choice lacks the word “between”
Is it parallel? YES – the doctrine of Determinism (noun phrase) : the existence of free will (noun phrase)

D) between the doctrine of Determinism, which holds that each state of affairs is necessitated by the states of affairs preceding it, and the existence of free will
Correct word choice? YES – this comparison uses the word “between”
Is it parallel? YES – the doctrine of Determinism (noun phrase) : the existence of free will (noun phrase)

E) among the doctrine of Determinism, which holds that each state of affairs may be necessitated by the states of affairs preceding it, and free will existing
Correct word choice? NO – this comparison should use the word “between” (not “among”)
Is it parallel? NO – the doctrine of Determinism (noun phrase) : free will existing (verb phrase)

(D) is correct.



Section V-4: Pronoun Agreement

Pronoun Agreement

A. Introduction
B. Subject vs. Object
C. Who vs. Whom
D. Singular and Plural Pronouns
E. Possessive Pronouns
F. Objects of to be verbs
G. Relative Pronouns
H. Sample Questions



Pronouns stand in for nouns in a sentence. When replacing any noun (Matt, the cheerleader, the chair) with a pronoun (he, she, it), the pronoun must match the noun it is replacing, or the antecedent.

The first step in tackling a pronoun question is to locate and identify the pronouns in the sentence. Study the chart below, which includes some common English pronouns.

 
Subject/Object Pronouns Possessives
Subject Object Adjective Pronoun
I me my mine
you you your yours
he him his his
she her her hers
it it its its
we us our ours
they them their theirs
everyone everyone everyone's everyone's


This chapter will help you to become more familiar with the different pronoun types and will show you how to use them.  Review the following examples.

1. She bought the rights to the film last week, hoping to make lots of money off it.

              First pronoun: She (antecedent: unspecified female)
              Second pronoun: it (antecedent: “the film”)

2. On the way to her meeting, the executive bought a cup of coffee and proceeded to spill it all over her coat.

               First pronoun: her (antecedent: “the executive”)
               Second pronoun: it (antecedent: “a cup of coffee”)

3. Everyone gathered at the meeting spot, anxiously awaiting their assignments.

              Note: their (antecedent: the same unspecified group of people) functions as an adjective.

4. Running towards the building, he hoped to catch a glimpse of them somewhere inside it.

                First pronoun: he (antecedent: unspecified male)
                Second pronoun: them (antecedent: unspecified group of people)
                Third pronoun: it (antecedent: “the building”)


Pronoun Agreement: Subject vs. Object

Pronoun Agreement

A. Introduction
B. Subject vs. Object
C. Who vs. Whom
D. Singular and Plural Pronouns
E. Possessive Pronouns
F. Objects of to be verbs
G. Relative Pronouns
H. Sample Questions



Once you’ve found a pronoun, check to see whether it’s acting as the SUBJECT or the OBJECT of the sentence or clause.

This aspect of pronoun formation is called case (objective/subjective/possessive).

Subject Pronouns
Just like the nouns they replace, pronouns can be the subject or object of the main verb. Pronouns that are the subject take the subjective case:

He walked to the store.
She decided to take a taxi.
They liked the food.

In each case, the subject is the person/pronoun doing the action. Since it is the subject, the pronoun takes the subjective case: he, she, they, etc.

Object Pronouns
Pronouns that are the object take the objective case:

Mary ate it.
Christian agreed that we should elect him. Mr. Weinberg asked about them.

Above, the pronouns in bold are all acting as objects of the main verb. Objects of the main verb take the objective case: it, him, them, etc.

Personal Pronouns: Subject and Object Forms

Subjective

Objective

I

me

you

you

he/she/it

him/her/it

we

us

you

you

they

them

 

The first step in working with pronouns is to identify any pronoun(s) in the sentence

See if you can locate the pronouns in the following sentence:

How could she blame you and he for the accident?

Answer: There are three pronouns in this sentence: she,you, and he.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

The next two steps can be done in any order. You need to identify the antecedent of each pronoun and determine whether it is acting as subject or object of the main verb. In the sentence above, three different pronouns are used to refer to three different people: she (the person doing the blaming, a female), and you and he (the two people she blames; one is male, and the other’s gender is unspecified).

You can use this information to determine the role of each pronoun in the sentence. The person doing the action (she, or the blamer) is the subject of the sentence, whereas the people receiving the action (you and he, or the people being blamed) are the objects:

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page. 

Now that we have identified the pronouns and their roles in the sentence, the final step is to determine whether the pronouns are in the correct form.  The first two pronouns in this sentence are correct: she is the subjective form of the her/she pronoun, and you takes the same form for the objective and subjective cases, so it is also correct. However, he is not in the correct form: it is acting as the object of the sentence, but it is in the subjective form. We need the objective form of the pronoun, him.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

Both pronouns acting as objects must be in the objective case: you and him.

Hint: If you are having trouble remembering whether he or him is the objective form, turn the sentence into a question: “Whom did she blame?” The answer will give you the correct pronoun: “She blamed him.”

Incorrect: How could she blame you and he for the accident?

Correct: How could she blame you and him for the accident?


Let's look at another example:

Incorrect: Her was better suited for the job.

Correct: She was better suited for the job.

Here, the pronoun is the subject of the sentence. Because the pronoun stands in for some woman, it must be feminine and in the subjective case: She.

Remember: Personal pronouns in the subject and object form must agree with their antecedents in number and gender.

Pronouns and Compound Subjects: Me or I?

One special case that often causes confusion is a compound noun involving a noun and the personal pronoun (me / I).  Consider the following sentence:

John and me drank a bottle of wine.

Which is the correct pronoun in this case: me or I? This pair is often confused in both spoken and written English due to the seeming complication of adding another subject into the mix. But it's actually quite simple to remember when to use "me," and when to use "I": cross out everything in the "someone else and me/I" phrase except the pronoun. The correct pronoun is the one that leaves you with a grammatical sentence.

GMAT Sentence Correction: If graphic doesn't load, press shift-refresh in your webbrowser to reload the page.

"Me drank a bottle of wine" sounds wrong so the proper pronoun is clearly "I."

Incorrect: John and me drank a bottle of wine.

Correct: John and I drank a bottle of wine.

Let's try it again on the following sentence:

The dinner was eaten by John and I.

This sentence has a passive verb, so it’s harder to tell whether the compound noun is subject or object. Perform the test to find out:

The dinner was eaten by John and I.

or

The dinner was eaten by John and me.

The second sentence is grammatically correct: “The dinner was eaten by…me.” This test works for many instances of misused pronouns, but you should become familiar with the subject/object pronoun chart.

Incorrect: The dinner was eaten by John and I .

Correct: The dinner was eaten by John and me.

 

Summary: Subject/Object Pronouns in Three Steps

1. Identify any pronouns in the sentence relating to the main verb.

2. Identify the antecedent of each pronoun and its role in the sentence: is it the subject or object of the main verb? For compound subjects, cross out the other subject plus the word and.

3. Check to see that the pronoun is in the correct case: subjective for subject pronouns and objective for object pronouns. In addition, subject and object pronouns must agree with their antecedents in number (singular or plural) and gender (masculine, feminine, or neuter).

 

 


Pronoun Agreement: Who vs. Whom

Pronoun Agreement

A. Introduction
B. Subject vs. Object
C. Who vs. Whom
D. Singular and Plural Pronouns
E. Possessive Pronouns
F. Objects of to be verbs
G. Relative Pronouns
H. Sample Questions

 

This section discusses the interrogative pronouns who and whom. When these pronouns are used to mean “which or what individual(s),” you must always check to see whether they are acting as the subject or the object of the verb. If the pronoun is acting as a subject, use who. If it is acting as an object, use whom.

You will often see these pronouns in questions and answers.  Consider the following sentence:

I don't know whom Kate married.

In this sentence, the pronoun whom acts as a placeholder for an unknown person – whoever it is whom Kate married. To determine whether this pronoun is acting as the subject or object of the verb, try rearranging the sentence into a question, and then answer it. The form of the answer will tell you which version of the pronoun to use, subjective or objective. Let's try it:

Question: Who/m did Kate marry?

Answer: Kate married him.

You wouldn't say "Kate married he." Since the pronoun used in the answer is the objective "him," the pronoun in the original sentence should also be in the objective case: whom.

Incorrect: I don’t know who Kate married.

Correct: I don’t know whom Kate married.

Here's another one to try:

Who took out the trash?

Because the sentence is already a question, all you need to do is answer the question.

Question: Who/m took out the trash?

Answer: He took out the trash.

The person taking out the trash is the subject of the sentence. You wouldn't say "Him took out the trash," because "him" is objective. The indefinite pronoun must be in the subjective case: Who.

Incorrect: Whom took out the trash?

Correct: Who took out the trash?

 

The interrogative pronouns who and whom take different forms in the subject and object positions.

Follow these steps:

1. Run the “question test” to determine whether who/whom is acting as a subject or object.

2.  Correct the form if necessary. If it is the subject, use who. If it is the object, use whom.

Pronoun Agreement: Singular and Plural Pronouns

Pronoun Agreement

A. Introduction
B. Subject vs. Object
C. Who vs. Whom
D. Singular and Plural Pronouns
E. Possessive Pronouns
F. Objects of to be verbs
G. Relative Pronouns
H. Sample Questions



Pronouns also act like nouns in the realm of verb agreement. When you check for subject-verb agreement, you must see if the noun and verb match in terms of number: they both must be either singular or plural. Similarly, when a pronoun is the subject of the sentence, it must agree with the main verb in number.

Like nouns, singular pronouns take singular verbs and plural pronouns take plural verbs. All personal pronouns except for you change form according to whether they are singular or plural:

 

Singular

Plural

First Person

I

we

Second Person

you

you

Third Person

he/she/it

they



Other pronouns are either always singular or always plural:

 

These pronouns are always singular:

anyone
either
neither
what

anything
everyone
no one
whatever

each
everything
nothing
whoever


These pronouns are always plural:

both
many

several
others

few


When a pronoun is the subject of the sentence, you must check to see that it agrees with the main verb in number. This means that you must be able to recognize the singular and plural forms of each pronoun on sight.

Everyone on the project (has / have) to come to the meeting.

There is only one pronoun in this sentence: "Everyone." It is acting as the subject of the sentence, so we must check for agreement with the main verb, "have to come."

Referring to the chart above, you see that the pronoun "everyone" is singular. But the verb "have" is plural!  We need the singular form of the verb: "has to come." 

Let’s try another one:

Many have tried, but few people (has / have) been able to solve the puzzle.

This sentence contains two pronouns, "Many" (subject of the first clause) and "few" (subject of the second clause). Each of these pronouns is considered a plural pronoun, so each must have a plural verb have.
 

Subject-Verb Agreement: Compound Subjects

Sometimes, you will see a compound subject where one subject is a noun and the other is a pronoun. In these cases, the verb must agree in number with whichever subject is closer to it. Consider the following sentence:

Neither he nor his bodyguards (we / were) there.

Here, there are two subjects, "he" and "his bodyguards," joined by the correlative conjunction "Neither…nor." As covered in an earlier section of this chapter, the constructions "either... or" and "neither… nor" require the verb to agree with the subject that is closer to it. The verb must agree with the plural noun bodyguards, so the plural verb were is correct. 

But what if the situation were reversed as in the following sentence?

Neither his bodyguards nor he (were / was) there. 

Here, the singular pronoun "he" is closer to the verb, so the verb needs to be singular, too: "has."

In both cases, the sentence is correct when the verb agrees with the subject – whether noun or pronoun – that is closest to it.

 

Summary: Singular/Plural Subject Pronouns in Three Steps

1. Identify any subject pronouns in the sentence. Look out for compound subjects and pronouns that are always singular or always plural.

2. Identify the main verb. Is it singular or plural?

3. Check to see that the pronoun matches the main verb in number: singular with singular, plural with plural. For compound subjects, the verb should match the subject that is closer to it. If necessary, correct the error.



Pronoun Agreement: Possessive Pronouns

Pronoun Agreement

A. Introduction
B. Subject vs. Object
C. Who vs. Whom
D. Singular and Plural Pronouns
E. Possessive Pronouns
F. Objects of to be verbs
G. Relative Pronouns
H. Sample Questions


  
When you come across possessive pronouns such as yours, theirs, his, hers and its, check to see whether they agree with their antecedents in number and gender. The antecedent for possessive pronouns is the noun or pronoun that is doing the possessing. 

Margaret put her coat on, and Paul put his on, too.

In the sentence above, there is one possessive pronoun, his, which refers to Paul. Paul is a masculine, singular noun, so we use the corresponding pronoun his – also masculine and singular. The word her, which refers to Margaret, is a possessive adjective because it modifies the noun coat. Contrast this with the pronoun his, which stands in for the noun phrase Paul’s coat.

Most possessive pronouns are used sloppily in spoken language, so take special note when you see one mixed in among other pronouns. Sometimes, the antecedent will be another pronoun.


Possessive Pronouns with Personal Pronoun Antecedents

Possessive pronouns sometimes have personal pronoun antecedents. When this happens, the possessive pronoun needs to match its antecedent in person and number, but not case. Personal pronouns have three different cases: subjective, objective, and possessive. If the antecedent of a pronoun indicating possession is another pronoun (in either subjective or objective form),