The GMAT test has surely made grammar a surreal experience. From the point of view of a trainer who enjoys every class, no matter how repetitive it may get, I must salute the test for what it has been able to concoct of the many grammar rules. Very basic stuff one grew up knowing and mastering is now laced with the unknown, the not-so-obvious, and sometimes even the impossible. As a result, a Sentence Correction class often ends up much like an odyssey, with participants struggling to find a purpose.
Let me use this platform to share some SC questions that required more than my fair share of effort to explain and justify. Below is the first of these, and I invite readers to share other SC questions that we can discuss and understand here.
(A) that suggests that the elephant is descended from an aquatic animal, and its trunk originally evolving
(B) that has suggested the elephant descended from an aquatic animal, its trunk originally
(C) suggesting that the elephant had descended from an aquatic animal with its trunk originally evolved
(D) to suggest that the elephant had descended from an aquatic animal and its trunk originally evolved
(E) to suggest that the elephant is descended from an aquatic animal and that its trunk originally evolved
The most important thing to watch out for here are the two “thats.” The first, evidence that, is a relative pronoun simply sitting after evidence and referring to it, while the second that suggests that is a reporting conjunction that reports information. This latter is crucial. Since the embryologists report 2 details – one about the elephant and the other about its trunk – it is clear that the reporting conjunction will need to be used twice. So all we need to do is look for an answer or answers that suggest that the elephant…………………………., and that its trunk…………………………………..
Based on this understanding, we can locate just one answer….E.
Following the same rule, we can identify the need to observe a parallel of that in the example below:
Sartre believed each individual is responsible for choosing one course of action over another, which gives value to the act, and that nothing that is not acted upon has value.
(A) each individual is responsible for choosing one course of action over another one
(B) that each individual is responsible for choosing one course of action over another
(C) that each individual is responsible for choosing one course of action over another
(D) that each individual is responsible to choose one course of action over the other
(E) each individual is responsible for choosing one course of action over another one
Here, we can spot that; this hints at the need for an earlier use of that – as a reporting conjunction. So, trace the sentence back to the first verb – believed – and identify answers that use that to report each detail being reported. So we pick the three answers – B, C, D – and use that to report the first clause and then identify the right answer relying on the idiom responsible for in B.
I will end this demonstration by reminding GMAT test takers to be vigilant about the non-underlined part of the SC question….there will always be something there to guide you through the seeming maze of words and structures.