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GMAT Tips: Sentence Correction Modification

Today’s GMAT Tip comes to us from Kaplan. In this article, Kaplan GMAT instructor Bret Ruber provides helpful advice on answering Sentence Correction questions that involve modification errors:

Today’s advanced GMAT sentence correction problem revolves around a modification error.  Remember to watch out for modifying phrases at the beginning of a sentence – they must refer to whatever comes directly after them.

Problem:

Running off-Broadway for 17,162 performances over 42 years, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones adapted The Fantasticks from Edmund Rostand’s 1894 play Les Romanesques.

(A)  Running off-Broadway for 17,162 performances over 42 years, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones adapted The Fantasticks from Edmund Rostand’s 1894 play Les Romanesques.

(B)  The Fantasticks, which ran off-Broadway for 17,162 performances over 42 years, was adapted by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones from Edmund Rostand’s 1894 play Les Romanesques.

(C)  The Fantasticks, which ran off-Broadway for 17,162 performances over 42 years and was adapted by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones from Edmund Rostand’s 1894 play Les Romanesques.

(D)  Running through 17,162 performances over 42 years off-Broadway, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones had adapted The Fantasticks from Edmund Rostand’s 1894 play Les Romanesques.

(E)  Adapted from Edmund Rostand’s 1894 play Les Romanesques, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones ran The Fantasticks off-Broadway for 17,162 performances over 42 years.

Solution:

The original sentence opens with the modifying phrase “running off-Broadway for 17,162 performances over 42 years,” which is followed by a comma.  In order for the sentence to be correct, whatever ran off-Broadway must come after this comma.  However, the sentence puts Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones after the comma, making it seem as if they ran off-Broadway, rather than their play.  All answer choices that maintain this error must be wrong.  Therefore, we can eliminate options (A), (D) and (E), as they all make similar modification errors.

While option (C) fixes the initial modification error, it introduces a new one.  “The Fantasticks” is followed by a comma and the word “which.”  In this construction everything that follows the word “which,” until another comma appears, is part of a modifying phrase.  However, in choice (C) a second comma is never used, making the entire sentence after “The Fantasticks” a modifier.  This is problematic, as the sentence has no verb, making it a fragment.  Option (C) is, therefore, incorrect and should be eliminated.

This leaves choice (B) as the only remaining answer.  Thus, (B) must be correct.

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Posted in: GMAT - Verbal, GMAT Tips

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