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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.