GMAT Verbal : Correcting Conventional and Idiomatic Usage Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Many soldiers have undertaken specialized education, which both helps them with current combat tasks and future endeavors.

Possible Answers:

which helps them both with current combat tasks and future endeavors.

which helps them with both current combat tasks and future endeavors.

both of which helps them with current combat tasks and future endeavors.

which both helps them with current combat tasks and future endeavors.

which helps them with current combat tasks and future endeavors both.

Correct answer:

which helps them with both current combat tasks and future endeavors.

Explanation:

The placement of "both" in this sentence makes the underlined phrase confusing and awkward. By placing the word "both" nearer to the two things it joins together, "current combat tasks and future endeavors," makes the meaning of the sentence much more clear. The only answer choice which correctly makes this change is "which helps them with both current combat tasks and future endeavors."

Example Question #2 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

The abrupt resignation of the CEO was not very surprising to those close to him, who knew that he would always put his family first.

Possible Answers:

who knew that he would always put his family first and foremost.

who knew that he would always put his family first.

who knew that he would always be putting his family first.

who knew he would always put family first.

who knew that he would have always put his family first.

Correct answer:

who knew he would always put family first.

Explanation:

The sentence is not technically gramatically correct as it is written, but it is awkwardly worded and unnecessarily long. The sentence is best served by being shortened to a more direct statement that conveys the same meaning. The answer choice that best does this kind of streamlining is "who knew he would always puthis family first."

Example Question #3 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

For all intensive purposes, the new plan was essentially the same as the old plan, but with a much tighter time frame in which to accomplish everything.

Possible Answers:

For all intents and purposes, the new plan was essentially the same

For all intensive purposes, the new plan was essentially the same

For all intensive purposes, the new plan being essentially the same

For all intensive purposes, the new plan was effectively the same

For all intensive purposes, the new plan was essentially the same thing

Correct answer:

For all intents and purposes, the new plan was essentially the same

Explanation:

The use of the phrase "for all intensive purposes," as it is in this sentence, is incorrect. The idiom is actually "for all intents and purposes," which indicates that every element was considered. "For all intents and purposes, the new plan was essentially the same," is the correct answer choice as it is the only one that uses the correct idiom.

Example Question #4 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

In the back corner of the building stood a lone chair, that was said to be a memorial for the property’s original owner who died tragically before the mansion was fully completed.

Possible Answers:

a lone chair which was said

a lone chair, which had been said

a lone chair, that was said

a lone chair, which was saying

a lone chair that was said

Correct answer:

a lone chair that was said

Explanation:

The use of "which" in the underlined portion of the sentence is incorrect, as it introduces information crucial to the sentence. "Which" is used to introduce non-restrictive clauses, which provide additional but non-essential information in a sentence, and "that" is used to introduce restrictive clauses, which contain information information essential to the sentence. "Which" should be preceded by a comma. In this sentence, the comma that precedes "that" is extraneous and incorrect. As the only answer choice that makes this change, "a lone chair that was said" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #5 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage Errors

She is as yet regarded as being the best pirate on the seven seas. 

What option best replaces the underlined portion of the sentence?

Possible Answers:

She is yet regarded as being 

As yet, she is regarded as being 

As yet, she is regarded as

She is as yet regarded as being 

She is as yet regarded as

Correct answer:

As yet, she is regarded as

Explanation:

"As yet" or "as of yet" can almost always be replaced by "yet." The only exception is when it comes at the beginning of the sentence, where it means the same thing as "so far." "Regarded as being" is a common grammar mistake. It should instead be "regarded as."

Example Question #387 : Usage Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

The snob woman looked down on the slovenly young man, who always dressed in a disheveled manner.

Possible Answers:

The snob woman looks down on the slovenly young man

The snobby woman looked down on the slovenly young man

The snob woman looking down on the slovenly young man

The snob woman looked down to the slovenly young man

The snob woman looked down on the slovenly young man

Correct answer:

The snobby woman looked down on the slovenly young man

Explanation:

The use of "snob" as an adjective in this sentence is incorrect, as "snob" is a noun and cannot properly modify "woman." The word needs to be changed to an adjectival form. "The snobby woman looked down on the slovenly young man" is the only answer choice to appropriately use an adjective.

Example Question #5 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

I learned a lot from the woman that I talked to.

Possible Answers:

I learned a lot from the woman who I talked to.

I would learn a lot from the woman that I had talked to.

I learned a lot from the woman whom I talked to.

I learned a lot from the woman to whom I talked.

I learned a lot from the woman that I talked to.

Correct answer:

I learned a lot from the woman to whom I talked.

Explanation:

We do not end a sentence with a preposition. Also, we use the pronoun "whom" when a person is the object of the verb. Here, the woman is the object of the verb "talked".

Example Question #2 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

No matter how hard I concentrated on the question, the solution to it kept alluding me.

Possible Answers:

the solution to it kept alluding me.

the solution was kept elusive.

alluding me was the solution to it.

the solution was keeping allusive.

the solution to it kept eluding me.

Correct answer:

the solution to it kept eluding me.

Explanation:

This question deals with incorrect word choice. The correct word is elude, which means to stay out of reach. Allude means to indirectly refer to something.

Example Question #43 : Other Usage Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The rain has a big affect on his mood.

Possible Answers:

The rain has a big effect on his mood.

On his mood, the rain is largely effecting.

(No changes to original.)

The rain affects his mood.

His mood has a big affect on the rain.

Correct answer:

The rain has a big effect on his mood.

Explanation:

Here, we need the noun “effect,” not the verb “affect.”

Example Question #3 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Many New Yorkers had no choice but to evacuate the area because of the imminent danger of the approaching snow storm.

Possible Answers:

because of the imminent danger from the approaching snow storm.

because of the eminent danger from the approaching snowstorm.

because of the imminent danger of the approaching snow storm.

because of the eminent danger of the approaching snow storm.

because of the imminent danger of the approaching snowstorm.

Correct answer:

because of the imminent danger of the approaching snowstorm.

Explanation:

“Imminent” means threatening or looming, while “eminent” means well-known or famous. Also, “snowstorm” is a compound word (two words put together).

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