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The Philosophy Of G-Matic Sentences

Because of the formal communicative purposes they need to serve, G-matic sentences should satisfy three conditions.

  1. G-matic sentences should be both grammatically and stylistically correct
     
    This is the basic necessity for any academic expression. Grammar should be given the first priority as lack of grammar in expressions results in uneducated speech. The grammar should be of formal, rather than informal, standards. Once the grammar is taken care of, style comes to the fore.
    To understand this concept of prioritization of rules, study the following illustrations.
     She spoke clever. (This expression is grammatically incorrect as it does not follow grammar; it uses an adjective incorrectly for an adverb required.)
    ? She spoke in a clever way. (This sentence is correct grammatically but stylistically questionable, as it uses four words in the place of a single word that would have served the purpose. This expression is a wordy expression, which is stylistically wrong.)
     She spoke cleverly. (This is the best expression as it correctly uses adverb cleverly and also expresses the idea briefly, removing the problem of wordy structure.)
    When it comes to GMAT, the last should be your choice. However, if the grammar demands, you need to select that expression that you would otherwise have rejected.
    Study the following extension of the above example.
     She spoke cleverly, which I liked a lot.
    In this sentence, which I liked is relative clause – we shall discuss more about these in later chapters. The clause must be preceded by a noun/ noun phrase. Thus the given sentence contains an adverb cleverly instead of the required noun phrase making it incorrect.
     She spoke in a clever way, which I liked a lot.
    This sentence correctly places the noun phrase clever way before the relative clause making it correct grammatically.
  2. G-matic sentences should be concise and precise
     
    You should first know what concision and precision are. A concise structure is a structure that uses minimum number of words needed to give the intended meaning. Precise structure is a structure which expresses the exact meaning intended.
    Study the following examples to understand this concept of concision.
     London Metropolitan Railways, which was opened in 1863, was the first underground railway in the world.
     London Metropolitan Railway, opened in 1863, was the first underground railway in the world.
    Both sentences are grammatically right, but the second is preferable to the first as it has fewer words. The use of which is does not add anything to the sense of the sentence. This is how concision comes into picture.
    Study the following example to know the concept of precision.
    ? I like Michael more than John.
    This sentence looks quite acceptable, right? It appears so only to a casual listener or reader. The meaning is, in fact, ambiguous. It can be interpreted in two different ways: I like Michael more than I like John or I like Michael more than john likes him. You may intend to mean one sense and the listener may take the other. This ambiguity can be removed by adding more words to the sentence.
     I like Michael more than I like/do John
     I like Michael more than John does.
    Now you might have observed that concision and precision may demand exactly opposite actions: omission of words and addition of words. In the above example, precision is attained by sacrificing concision.
    Look at the same example with slight change in nouns.
    I like English more than I like Russian.
     I like English more than Russian.
     
    In the first sentences, English and Russian are two words that refer to languages. There is no possibility, on the part of listener, to interpret that I like English more that Russian likes English. When there is no such possibility, using … than I like Russian results in wordiness. Thus, now the first sentence becomes questionable and the second sentence becomes both precise and concise.
     
    Thus, the G-matic expressions require us to strike the golden balance between precision and concision. Remember, the above example of comparison is a very important testing point in GMAT. We will discuss more of this in the chapter Modifiers.
  3. G-matic sentences should be logical
    The part of GMAT that tests your verbal skills is called Verbal Reasoning. This very name indicates that the element of logic is inevitable in all types of questions. While this logic is directly tested in Critical Reasoning Questions, it is subtly tested in both Reading Comprehension and Sentence Correction questions.
     
    The logical accuracy of the GMAT sentence should arise both from grammatical constructions and from choice of words. A specific construction/word that gives a specific meaning may not be logical in the context implied by the GMAT sentence.
     
    Let me explain this concept using some examples.
     
     Most houses were partially and completely damaged during the earthquake.
     
    The sentence, despite its apparent correctness, is flawed because it goes against the common sense. A house can be partially damaged or completely damaged. But, it cannot be damaged both partially and completely at the same time. This is illogical to say. The following can be the corrected version of the sentence.
     Most houses were partially or completely damaged during the earth quake.
     
    Observe how the above sentence is made logical by choosing appropriate word.
     Most houses are partially or superficially damaged during the earthquake.
     Most houses are partially and superficially damaged during the earthquake.
     
    Now, you might have observed that both sentences are correct. The words partially and superficially allow the use of either of conjunctions and and or.
     
     Having been extremely rich, he can surely afford to buy that costly car.
     
    This sentence is grammatically correct, but logically incorrect. Having been always refers to a time before the time of the main clause. The sentence actually means that because he was extremely rich in the past, he can buy a costly car now! Further implication of the structure is also noteworthy. The use of having been rich implies that he is not rich now. This also contributes to illogical nature of the sentence.
     
     Being extremely rich, he can surely afford to buy that costly car.
     
    Let me illustrate the rational connection between the construction and sense of the sentence with a more tricky constructional choice.
     
    Before we go into the further discussion, try to guess the difference in sense in the following sentences.
  • I ate one apple and left one behind.
  • I ate one apple, leaving one behind.

Were you able to identify the difference between the sentences? Read the explanation to know whether you have guessed correctly or not.


Using two main verbs (as in the first sentence) implies that you wanted to leave one behind and so ate one apple only. This sense makes both actions intentional. The use of participle in this context has a special implication. The second action (leaving one behind) is the corollary or natural consequence of the first action. It was not intentionally done. Both of the sentences are correct as both implications are possible in the given context. However, every case may not be this simple. Study the following example.

 

 In 1936, scientists discovered a new element, which has later been named Francium, and made 115 the total number of naturally found elements.
 

In the above sentence, use of two main verbs (discovered and made) implies that both the actions are intentional. However, they did not make the number 115 intentionally. It is corollary of the first action. Thus, use of two main verbs is incorrect here. The corrected version of the above sentence is this.
 

 In 1936, scientists discovered a new element, which has later been named Francium  making 115 the total number of naturally found elements.
 

This logical thinking is what is actually tested in GMAT. Thus, knowing the grammar principles is not enough for mastering the sentence correction questions.

If you are aiming for a score of 700+, which is an extremely rare score these days, you should think along these lines when you are taking the test!
 

Down to Earth Practice

Identifying irrationality of the sentences

Read the following sentences carefully and rewrite them correcting the irrationality present. Two of the sentences, you should note, are without any illogical sense problem.

  1. Your style has the ability of being understood easily.
  2. Many of the modern political theorists support democracy, which is the best system of governance.
  3. Proteins are broken in our digestive system and liberate amino acids which are essential for the growth of our bodies.
  4. Our colleague Eddie proved her acumen in complex situations, promoted three times in a span of four years and became a team leader.
  5. The postponement of the meeting had been because of unavoidable circumstances and it was to be conducted as quickly as possible.
  6. The constitution of United States has granted the Congress many powers, including those to levy and collect taxes, and to establish public services, and can also declare war.
  7. My project can be easily completed, whereas you will find it difficult to complete yours.
Keys
  1. Your style can be understood easily.
     
    Your style does not have the ability or capability! The concept of possession using has is illogical here. The suggested sentence corrects this aspect
  2. Many of the modern political theorists support the view that democracy is the best system of governance.
     
    Theorists only think of philosophy of politics; they do not support a system. Here the view that democracy is the best system of governance is supported. The corrected sentence removes this irrationality by using a relevant structure.
  3. Proteins are broken in our digestive system liberating amino acids which are essential for the growth of our bodies.
     
    In the given sentence, Proteins acts as the subject for the verb liberate, giving the sense that proteins liberate amino acids. this sense is illogical because it is the break up of proteins that liberates amino acids. The second action is the natural consequence of the first action and thus it should be expressed by ing form as discussed in this chapter.
  4. Our colleague Eddie proved her acumen in complex situations, was promoted three times in a span of four years and became a team leader.
     
    The second verb is not logical because she did not promote anyone else, but she was promoted.
  5. The postponement of the meeting had been because of unavoidable circumstances and the meeting was to be conducted as quickly as possible.
     
    The pronoun it after and seems to refer to the postponement of the meeting. It is not logical to say that the postponement of the meeting was to be conducted as quickly as possible. So the second verb has been provided with a logical subject to make the sentence logical.
  6. The constitution of United States has granted the Congress many powers, including those to levy and collect taxes, to establish public services, and also to declare war.
     
    The sentence gives illogical sense that the constitution can also declare war. As the subject is absent for the verb can also declare war, we need to assume the earlier subject as the subject for this verb also, resulting in the illogical sense. to make this logical, a to-infinitive is included. This can be explained even by parallelism, which we will discuss later.
  7. My project can be easily completed, whereas yours will be difficult to complete.
     
    I can easily complete my project, whereas you will find it difficult to complete yours.
     
    The sentence should contrast my project and your project. But change of subject result in illogical contrast of my project being completed and your finding it difficult to complete yours. The logical structure requires either of the above





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