GMAT Verbal : Correcting Misplaced or Interrupting Modifier Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Correcting Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier 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.

Even under the sunniest analyses, corporate profits sharply will go down over the final quarter of the year.

Possible Answers:

corporate profits will go down over sharply the final quarter of the year.

sharply corporate profits will go down over the final quarter of the year.

corporate profits will go down sharply over the final quarter of the year.

corporate profits will go down over the final quarter of the year sharply.

corporate profits sharply will go down over the final quarter of the year.

Correct answer:

corporate profits will go down sharply over the final quarter of the year.

Explanation:

The adverb "sharply" is awkwardly placed in the sentence, creating confusion and ambiguity in the phrase. An adverb should be placed immediately next to the word it is describing, which in this case is "down." The only answer choice that  puts "sharply" correctly in the sentence is "corporate profits will go down sharply over the final quarter of the year."

Example Question #84 : Correcting Modifier Placement 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.

Five dollars was the measly largest amount the scouts were able to collect from any single individual during their charity drive.

Possible Answers:

Five dollars measly was the largest amount the scouts were able to collect

Five dollars was the largest amount the scouts were able to collect measly

Five dollars was the measly largest amount the scouts were able to collect

Five dollars was the largest amount the scouts were able to measly collect

A measly five dollars was the largest amount the scouts were able to collect

Correct answer:

A measly five dollars was the largest amount the scouts were able to collect

Explanation:

The adverb "measly" is awkwardly placed in the middle of this sentence; it is confusing because its placement does not make it clear which noun the adverb is modifying. As a qualification of an amount, it makes the most sense to associate "measly" with the subject, "five dollars." "A measly five dollars was the largest amount the scouts were able to collect" is the only answer choice which places "measly" in the correct location.

Example Question #3 : Correcting Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier 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 young woman only nibbled at the salad overly soggy with too much dressing during her important lunch meeting with her boss.

Possible Answers:

the salad, which was overly soggy with too much dressing, during

the salad overly soggy with too much dressing during

the salad was overly soggy with too much dressing during

the salad, overly soggy with too much dressing during

the salad overly soggy with too much dressing, during

Correct answer:

the salad, which was overly soggy with too much dressing, during

Explanation:

The phrase "overly soggy with too much dressing" describes the salad that the young woman was eating, but is placed within the sentence in a way that it could describe the woman herself. The phrase needs to be set apart from the main sentence structure and more directly linked to the salad. As the only answer choice to make these changes, "the salad, which was overly soggy with too much dressing, during" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier Errors

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

The hotel provided complimentary refreshments to the guests in expensive crystal glasses.

Possible Answers:

the guests with complimentary refreshments in expensive crystal glasses.

in crystal glasses the guest's refreshments complimentarily.

complimentarily provided to the guests refreshments in expensive crystal glasses.

complimentary refreshments to guests in expensive crystal glasses.

complementary refreshments to the guests in expensive crystal glasses.

Correct answer:

the guests with complimentary refreshments in expensive crystal glasses.

Explanation:

The example sentence contains a misplaced modifier. The structure of the example sentence suggests that the guests are "in expensive crystal glasses" rather than the refreshments they are being served. The error can be corrected by placing the modifier as close as possible to the object with which it is meant to be associated, in this case by moving "the guests" to precede the mention of the refreshments, thus clarifying what is in the expensive crystal glasses.

Example Question #5 : Correcting Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier 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 only addition of the encryption program served to confuse the programmers.

Possible Answers:

The addition of the encryption program served to confused the programmers solely.

The addition of the encryption program only served to confuse the programmers.

The addition of the encryption program served to confused the programmers only.

The merely addition of the encryption program served to confuse the programmers.

The addition of the encryption program only served to confuse the programmers.

Correct answer:

The addition of the encryption program only served to confuse the programmers.

Explanation:

The example sentence contains a misplaced modifier. "Only" in this context works best when applied to the encryption program's effects. The "only"  thing the software did was confuse the programmers. The modifier should be placed as closely to the action, idea, or thing it modifies. The best version of this sentence reads, "The addition of the encryption program only served to confuse the programmers."

Example Question #86 : Correcting Modifier Placement Errors

One associates nominalism most commonly with William of Ockham, but a more careful review of the available evidence seems to suggest that it dates at least to the era of Thomas Aquinas.

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.

Possible Answers:

One associates nominalism most commonly with William of Ockham, but

Most commonly, one associates nominalism with William of Ockham, but

With William of Ockham is nominalism most commonly associated with, but

Nominalism is most commonly associated with William of Ockham, but

William of Ockham is most associated with nominalism commonly, but

Correct answer:

Nominalism is most commonly associated with William of Ockham, but

Explanation:

The credited response shows with the greatest clarity what is being modified by "most commonly" by placing it within the verb phrase "is associated." The response also omits the unnecessary use of the pronoun "one," which makes the sentence clearer, especially later on when the pronoun "it" refers back to "nominalism" as the subject of the adjusted sentence.

Example Question #87 : Correcting Modifier Placement Errors

The bloody Donatist crisis only came to a belated conclusion after the tireless efforts of many officials and a distant emperor.

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.

Possible Answers:

The bloody Donatist crisis only came to a conclusion belated after the efforts of many tireless officials and a distant emperor.

The Donatist bloody crisis only came to a conclusion belated after the tireless efforts of many officials and a distant emperor.

The bloody Donatist crisis only came to a belated conclusion after the efforts of many tireless officials and a distant emperor.

The bloody Donatist crisis only came to a belated conclusion after the tireless efforts of many officials and a distant emperor.

The belated Donatist crisis came to a bloody conclusion after only the tireless efforts of distant officials and many an emperor.

Correct answer:

The bloody Donatist crisis only came to a belated conclusion after the efforts of many tireless officials and a distant emperor.

Explanation:

The credited response is the only one in which every modifier is clearly paired with its object. In this instance, "Donatist crisis" is treated as a singular object modified by "bloody," rather than "Donatist" and "crisis" treated as equally important (and interchangeable) modifiers of "crisis," as "bloody" refers not to a crisis that happened to be "Donatist," but to a specific incident in history. "Belated" modifies "conclusion"; placing it after "conclusion" implies that the efforts delayed the conclusion, rather than that the belated conclusion was reached due to the efforts. While it is common to speak of "tireless efforts," properly speaking, it would be the officials who do not tire, rather than their inanimate efforts.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier Errors

Despite the injunction of the forceful Western Emperor and the mainstream influence of diminished Donatists, the Circumcellions soon took their more radical place.

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.

Possible Answers:

Despite the injunction of the Western, forceful Emperor, and the influence diminished of mainstream Donatists, the more radical Circumcellions soon took their place.

Despite the injunction of the forceful Western Emperor and the diminished mainstream influence of the Donatists, the Circumcellions soon took their more radical place.

Despite the forceful injunction of the Western Emperor and the diminished influence of mainstream Donatists, the more radical Circumcellions soon took their place.

Despite the forceful injunction of the Western Emperor and the mainstream diminished influence of Donatists, the more radical Circumcellions soon took their place.

Despite the forceful injunction of the Western Emperor and the diminished mainstream influence of the Donatists, the more radical Circumcellions soon took their place.

Correct answer:

Despite the forceful injunction of the Western Emperor and the diminished influence of mainstream Donatists, the more radical Circumcellions soon took their place.

Explanation:

The credited response is the only one that correctly matches each modifier with the person, idea, or group that it modifies. "Forceful" is not usually used to describe people, for instance, and so must be paired with "injunction" rather than "the Western Emperor." "Diminished" is paired with "influence," and "mainstream" with "Donatists"; it was the influence of the most usual sort of Donatism that declined, not this more usual sort itself nor the Donatists (the individual people) themselves. Finally, "more radical" modifies "Circumcellions," as the Circumcellions were more radical than the Donatists, rather than the Circumcellions taking some predetermined place set aside for the "more radical."

Example Question #272 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Ascertaining the meaning of ancient writing is often beyond the reach of even the most learning scholars.

Possible Answers:

even the most learning scholars.

even scholars most learning.

the most learning scholars.

even the most learning of scholars.

even the most learned scholars.

Correct answer:

even the most learned scholars.

Explanation:

The underlined phrase has a problem with the phrase "most learning." The phrase is describing the word "scholars." While the scholars might have "the most learning," this would make them "the most learned." The correct answer is "even the most learned of scholars."

Example Question #9 : Correcting Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier Errors

Studies that have shown pets can help people with problems such as depression and anxiety.

Possible Answers:

Studies that have shown pets can help people with problems as such as depression and anxiety.

Studies that have shown pets can help people with problems such as depression or anxiety.

Studies have shown pets that can help people with problems such as depression and anxiety.

Studies that have shown pets can help people with problems such as depression and anxiety.

Studies have shown that pets can help people with problems such as depression and anxiety.

Correct answer:

Studies have shown that pets can help people with problems such as depression and anxiety.

Explanation:

The insertion of "that" between "studies" and "have" makes the sentence unclear and strangely incomplete, as the sentence essentially becomes a dependent clause. By placing "that" after "shown," the sentence becomes much more clear and appropriately makes the dependent clause after the main body of the sentence. The correct answer choice is "Studies have shown that pets can help people with problems such as depression and anxiety."

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