GMAT Verbal : Correcting Interrupting Phrase Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Correcting Interrupting Phrase 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 years he sought to get a pardon for his late father, until new evidence came out that convinced him his father was in fact guilty.

Possible Answers:

that convinced him his father was in fact guilty.

that convinced him his father was, in fact, guilty.

that convinced him his father was, in fact guilty.

that convinced him his father was in fact, guilty.

that convinced him, his father was in fact guilty.

Correct answer:

that convinced him his father was, in fact, guilty.

Explanation:

In the underlined portion of the sentence, "in fact" is an interrupting phrase, a phrase that adds extra meaning to the sentence, but is not a part of the sentence's main structure. Any interrupting phrase must be set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. The only answer choice that makes this correction is "that convinced him his father was, in fact, guilty."

Example Question #11 : Correcting Appositive And Interrupting Phrase 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.

Working together, which was a process fraught with problems the two research teams were able to meet the incredibly tough deadline.

Possible Answers:

Working together, which was a process, fraught with problems the two

Working together, which was a process fraught with problems the two

Working together, which was a process, fraught with problems, the two

Working together, which was a process fraught with problems, the two

Working together which was a process fraught with problems the two

Correct answer:

Working together, which was a process fraught with problems, the two

Explanation:

The phrase "which was a process fraught with problems" is an interrupting phrase, one that adds meaning to the sentence, but is not a part of the main structure of the sentence. All interrupting phrases must be set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. "Working together, which was a process fraught with problems, the two" is the only answer choice which appropriately sets off the interrupting phrase.

Example Question #12 : Correcting Appositive And Interrupting Phrase 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 volcano a massive geothermal spot in the middle of the landmass threatened the lives of most of the island's residents.

Possible Answers:

The volcano, a massive geothermal spot, in the middle of the landmass, threatened

The volcano, a massive geothermal spot in the middle of the landmass threatened

The volcano a massive geothermal spot in the middle of the landmass, threatened

The volcano, a massive geothermal spot in the middle of the landmass, threatened

The volcano a massive geothermal spot in the middle of the landmass threatened

Correct answer:

The volcano, a massive geothermal spot in the middle of the landmass, threatened

Explanation:

The phrase "a massive geothermal spot in the middle of the landmass" functions in this sentence as an interrupting phrase, one which conditions the meaning of the sentence, but sits outside the core structure of the sentence. Any interrupting phrase must be set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. "The volcano, a massive geothermal spot in the middle of the landmass, threatened" is the only answer choice which correctly deploys commas around the phrase.

Example Question #4 : Correcting Interrupting Phrase 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.

Another solution to the author's problem regards the least possible world: that is, one that is metaphysically simplest; as something that actually does exist, rather than a mental construct.

Possible Answers:

least possible world, that is, one that is metaphysically simplest, as something

least possible world—that is, one that is metaphysically simplest—as something

least possible world that is, one that is metaphysically simplest as something

least possible world: that is, one that is metaphysically simplest; as something

least possible world-that is, one that is metaphysically simplest-as something

Correct answer:

least possible world—that is, one that is metaphysically simplest—as something

Explanation:

The use of dashes to set off the parenthetical phrase explaining what the least possible world is (rather than simply renaming it, as an appositive phrase set off by commas would do) is the best solution for this sentence.

Example Question #13 : Correcting Appositive And Interrupting Phrase 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 Oxford Ordinatio (or what's left of it, at any rate), Scotus seems to suggest a moral psychology that anticipates Kant's by a good five hundred years.

Possible Answers:

In the Oxford Ordinatio, (or what's left of it, at any rate), Scotus

In the Oxford Ordinatio (or what's left of it [at any rate]), Scotus

In the Oxford Ordinatio or what's left of it, at any rate, Scotus

In the Oxford Ordinatio (or what's left of it, at any rate) Scotus

In the Oxford Ordinatio (or what's left of it, at any rate), Scotus

Correct answer:

In the Oxford Ordinatio (or what's left of it, at any rate), Scotus

Explanation:

The parenthetical interrupting phrase "or what's left of it, at any rate" is associated with the phrase "In the Oxford Ordinatio," and should come before the comma that separates that phrase from the rest of the sentence. No other punctuation is needed to set off the parenthetical phrase from the phrase it is associated with, nor should this phrase be needlessly split into further parenthetical phrases.

Example Question #6 : Correcting Interrupting Phrase 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.

For Kant, ever the optimist moral progress within a community is almost inevitable.

Possible Answers:

For Kant ever the optimist moral progress

For Kant—ever the optimist—moral progress

For Kant (ever the optimist moral) progress

For Kant ever the optimist, moral progress

For Kant, ever the optimist moral progress

Correct answer:

For Kant—ever the optimist—moral progress

Explanation:

In formal written English, em-dashes (—) or commas are used to set off interrupting phrases. Commas would also be correct if used to set apart the phrase "ever the optimist," but that option is not provided as an answer choice, so the option that uses em-dashes to set apart the phrase is the correct answer.

Example Question #14 : Correcting Appositive And Interrupting Phrase 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.

William McKinley, who served on the side of the Union in the Civil War, and he was re-elected for his second term as president in 1900.

Possible Answers:

William McKinley: who served on the side of the Union in the Civil War, was re-elected

William McKinley served on the side of the Union in the Civil War, and he was re-elected

William McKinley, who served on the side of the Union in the Civil War, and he was re-elected

William McKinley, who served on the side of the Union in the Civil War, was re-elected

William McKinley, served on the side of the Union in the Civil War, was re-elected

Correct answer:

William McKinley, who served on the side of the Union in the Civil War, was re-elected

Explanation:

The relative clause beginning with "who served..." modifies William McKinley. This modifying phrase should be offset by two commas. The verb "was" is the predicate of the sentence - if you remove the modifying clause, you get "William McKinley was re-elected." This is correct, over "William McKinley and he was re-elected." Interrupting phrases should be able to be removed, and still leave a grammatically correct sentence behind.

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