Sentence Correction: Logical Approach to Comparison and Parallelism Sample GMAT Question

Written by Kelly Granson. Posted in GMAT Sample Questions

parallelism and comparison (practice)In this entry, we will look at a sample GMAT Sentence Correction question to strengthen your grip on the skill discussed in the earlier post—spotting and fixing flaws in parallelism and faulty comparisons.

Here is the GMAT sample question:

The anti-smoking campaign initiated by John Crofton, who is known around the world for his pioneering work on curing tuberculosis, both influenced legislation and public attitudes more than any other campaign of comparable scale.

A) both influenced legislation and public attitudes more than any other campaign of comparable scale.

B) whose influence on legislation and public attitudes was more significant than that of any other campaign of comparable scale.

C) influenced both legislation and public attitudes more than in any other campaign of comparable scale.

D) had more influence on legislation and public attitudes than that of any other campaign of comparable scale.

E) influenced both legislation and public attitudes more than any other campaign of comparable scale ever did.

First, let's find the subject and the corresponding verb in the original sentence. If we leave out the clause describing John Crofton and the comparison at the end, we will get the... campaign... both influenced legislation and attitudes. Both... and... is used to list two items, and items in a series must be in the same grammatical form. In our case, however, we have a verb following both and a noun following and. Thus, the structure is not parallel. The way to correct this mistake might be to use two nouns (influenced both legislation and attitudes) or add another verb (both influenced legislation and changed attitudes.)

We've have found one mistake, but we're not done with the underlined part of a sentence yet: the campaign... influenced [something] more than any other campaign. More than should surely prompt you to check whether everything is fine with the comparison here. Since the author probably wants to say that this campaign influenced legislation and public attitudes more than any other campaign influenced legislation and attitudes, we should look for a variant that makes this comparison unambiguous: the campaign influenced legislation and attitudes more than any other campaign DID.

Now that we know what to look for, let's go through the answer choices.

We have already figured out that A is wrong.

B is grammatically correct, although it does quite radically change the original structure. Let's read it back into the sentence to see whether it fits: the campaign... by Crofton, who is known for... curing tuberculosis, whose influence... was more significant than that of any other campaign. It looks like whose influence now refers to tuberculosis instead of referring to the campaign. Moreover, the sentence is not complete, since we have a subject (the campaign) and no verb to go with it.

C puts both into the right position but leaves the comparison nonparallel: the campaign... influenced something more than in any other campaign. In obviously does not belong here.

D has the same flaw as C does: it uses a correct structure with both, but includes that of into the comparison without any reason. Remember: to use that of [something] in a sentence, you should state explicitly what that refers to, e. g., the influence of the campaign was greater than that of another campaign. Here we know for sure that that refers to influence since we already used the phrase influence of the campaign earlier in the same sentence.

Choice E is the one we want.

 

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