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Sentence Correction - Questions Using Participles

Today, we discuss a couple of questions involving participle modifiers.

We will take one question in which you should use the participle and another in which you should not.

Let’s see how we decide that.

 

Question 1: In the wake of the global housing crisis, and amid dramatically changing demographics, it is likely that a widespread shift in thinking is ahead, which will reduce demand for large suburban homes, thus increasing demand for smaller urban apartments.

(A) it is likely that a widespread shift in thinking is ahead, which will reduce demand for large suburban homes, thus increasing demand for smaller urban apartments.

(B) it is likely that a widespread shift in thinking is ahead, which will reduce demand for large suburban homes, and thus increase demand for smaller urban apartments.

(C) it is not unlikely that a widespread shift in thinking is ahead, reducing demand for large suburban homes, thus creating an increase in demand for smaller urban apartments.

(D) it is not unlikely that a widespread shift in thinking is ahead, reducing demand for large suburban homes and increasing demand for smaller urban apartments.

(E) it is not unlikely that a widespread shift in thinking is ahead, reducing demand for large suburban homes, increasing demand for smaller urban apartments.

 

Solution: Let’s start looking for decision points – the first decision point is ‘it is likely’ vs ‘it is not unlikely’ – both have similar meanings and are grammatically correct so we cannot eliminate any option based on this right now. The next decision point is the beginning of the modifier. Options (A) and (B) use ‘which clauses’. Options (C), (D) and (E) use present participle modifiers.

 

‘which’ is a relative pronoun but there is no noun before it which can act as an antecedent. Hence, the use of which is incorrect here. On the other hand, the use of participle modifier is acceptable here. Last week, we discussed that present participle modifier after a comma will modify the preceding clause. It provides additional information about the preceding clause. ‘reducing …’ tells us more about ‘widespread shift in thinking‘. Hence, let’s focus on options (C), (D) and (E).

 

In (C), the “thus” used to introduce the second participle is incorrect: the two participles should be linked with a coordinating conjunction without a comma. One is not really leading to the other – they are both byproducts of the change in thinking – reducing demand for large homes and increasing demand for urban apartments. Lastly, in option (C), the “creating an…” is unnecessary and redundant – you just need “increasing demand.”

 

For option (E), you need something to link the two participle phrases together – without it, there is a comma splice error. Hence we eliminate (E) as well.

 

Option (D) gets the structure and meaning correct – “the shift in thinking is reducing … and increasing …”

 

Answer is (D).

 

Now, let’s look at an official GMAT question.

 

Question 2: In 1984, medical researchers at Harvard and Stanford universities concluded that sedentary life-styles lead to heart and lung diseases that shorten lives, strongly recommending middle-aged people to undertake some form of regular exercise.

(A) strongly recommending middle-aged people to
(B) strongly recommending that middle-aged people should
(C) and strongly recommended for middle-aged people to
(D) and their strong recommendation was for middle-aged people to
(E) and they strongly recommended that middle-aged people

 

Solution: The given sentence has two clauses:

 

Main clause – medical researchers at Harvard and Stanford universities concluded

That clause – that sedentary life-styles lead to heart and lung diseases that shorten lives

 

If we use a comma and the present participle ‘recommending’ here, it will modify the ‘that clause’. So ‘recommending’ will be done by ‘sedentary life-styles’. Obviously, this is incorrect since the researchers are the ones who recommend exercise. So we cannot use the participle here. Hence we eliminate options (A) and (B).

 

Options (C), (D) and (E) use ‘recommend’ in verb form.

 

Options (C) and (D) are unidiomatic in their usage of the verb recommend.

 

You recommend X for Y (say a person X for position Y)

or

You recommend that X do Y (say a person X do Y)

 

Option (C) says ‘recommended for X to do Y’ and option (D) says ‘recommendation was for X to do Y’ – both are incorrect.

 

Option (E) uses recommend properly – ‘recommended that X do Y’. Also, ‘… researchers concluded that … and recommended that …’ have parallel structure. Hence, option (E) is correct.

 

Answer (E)

 

Hope you now understand how participle phrases are used.

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