GMAT Verbal : Correcting Word Usage Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #2 : Correcting Modifier Word Modified Agreement 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 underlined choices repeats the answer as it is written. 

Kasia was initially confused by all of the different part involved in constructing the cabinet, but she eventually came to understand how everything fit together.

Possible Answers:

all of the different part

all the different part

all of the different parts

all different of the part

all the part different

Correct answer:

all of the different parts

Explanation:

The word "part" must be pluralized in order to reflect the use of the word "all." We should therefore change the phrase to "all of the different parts."

Example Question #11 : Correcting Modifier Word Modified Agreement 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.

All film directors must be thoughtful in his use of light and shadow.

Possible Answers:

All film directors must be thoughtful in her use of light and shadow.

All film directors must be thoughtful in one's use of light and shadow.

All film directors must be thoughtful in a use of light and shadow.

All film directors must be thoughtful in their use of light and shadow.

All film directors must be thoughtful in someone's use of light and shadow.

Correct answer:

All film directors must be thoughtful in their use of light and shadow.

Explanation:

"All film directors" is a plural noun in which all film directors are described as a unified group. The example sentence incorrectly shifts to a singular pronoun ("his") later in the sentence. In order for a singular pronoun to be correct in this situation, the sentence would have to be begin "Any film director" and the preferred pronoun form is gender neutral: "Any film director must be thoughtful in his or her use of light and shadow." The use of "all" means that the film directors must be treated as a unified group of many people. The correct version of the sentence reads, "All film directors must be thoughtful in their use of light and shadow."

Example Question #12 : Correcting Modifier Word Modified Agreement 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 after all these time, I still do not know how to swim.

Possible Answers:

Even after all this time, I still do not know how to swim.

Even after all these times, I still do not know how to swim.

Even after all time, I still do not know how to swim.

Even after all those time, I still do not know how to swim.

Even after all some times, I still do not know how to swim.

Correct answer:

Even after all this time, I still do not know how to swim.

Explanation:

The example sentence makes a modifier error. In order for the sentence to be correct, the "time" must either be treated as a unified, grammatically singular block of time (in which case "all this time" is the correct phrasing), or treated as multiple occurrences (grammatically plural) in which case "all these times" is correct. In either case, the modifier and the word modified must agree in number. Since it is the only one of these options that is included without additional errors, the correct response reads, "Even after all this time, I still do not know how to swim." 

Example Question #1 : Correcting Modifier Word Modified Agreement 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 appeal of art is largely a subjective experience that critics nonetheless take as an objective studies.

Possible Answers:

the objective studies.

an objective study.

an objective studies.

a studies of objectivity.

the study's objective.

Correct answer:

an objective study.

Explanation:

The key issue with the underlined phrase is the simultaneous use of "an" and the plural form "studies." Either the singular "an" or the plural "studies" needs to be changed to make the forms match. "An objective study" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #721 : Correcting Word 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.

Marcus enjoyed his work, civil engineers, finding that he could have a concrete impact on this community.

Possible Answers:

Marcus enjoyed his work as a civil engineer finding

Marcus enjoyed his work, finding civil engineers

Marcus enjoyed his work as civil engineers finding

A civil engineer, his work made Marcus enjoy finding

Marcus, a civil engineer, enjoyed his work, finding 

Correct answer:

Marcus, a civil engineer, enjoyed his work, finding 

Explanation:

The major issue here is not only the misplaced modifier "civil engineers" but also modifier agreement. Note that using the plural "civil engineers" is inappropriate. The correct placement of the modifier uses the phrase to modify Marcus. To convey Marcus' profession (singular), one must adjust the modifier to agree with the singular noun. The incorrect answer choices fail to resolve both of these issues and result in awkward syntax or modifier placement errors.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Noun Noun Agreement 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.

Just one of the large family's seven children became successful entrepreneurs; the rest found more conventional jobs.

Possible Answers:

Just one of the large family's seven children became a successful entrepreneur, the rest found more conventional jobs.

Just one of the large family's seven children became successful entrepreneurs, and rest found more conventional jobs.

Just one of the large family's seven children became a successful entrepreneur; the rest found more conventional jobs.

Just one of the large family's seven children became successful entrepreneurs, but the rest found more conventional jobs.

Just one of the large family's seven children became a successful entrepreneur, however, the rest found more conventional jobs.

Correct answer:

Just one of the large family's seven children became a successful entrepreneur; the rest found more conventional jobs.

Explanation:

"Just one" is singular; therefore, the verb must be conjugated to agree with a singular subject. Entrepreneurs also must change to the singular form. The second part of the sentence is correct in the question. Semicolons can link two related, independent clauses, with or without the use of a conjunction like "however" or "therefore."

Example Question #2 : Correcting Noun Noun Agreement 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.

Favoring handmade suits and buying Italian leather shoes, the young man’s ability to spend on fashion items was unparalleled among his friends.

Possible Answers:

Favored handmade suits and buying Italian leather shoes

Favoring handmade suits and buying Italian leather shoes

Favoring handmade suits, buying Italian leather shoes

Favoring handmade suits and Italian leather shoes

Favoring handmade suits and bought Italian leather shoes

Correct answer:

Favoring handmade suits and Italian leather shoes

Explanation:

The use of both "favoring" and "buying" in the opening phrase is awkward and ruins the parallelism between the suits and the shoes. Tying the two items to the same verb streamlines the phrase and makes the sentence more gramatically correct. " Favoring handmade suits and Italian leather shoes" is the only answer choice that makes the appropriate correction to the sentence.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Noun Noun Agreement Errors

Both of Tim's triplets were developing quite nicely. No error

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all. 

Possible Answers:

were

Both

Tim's 

triplets

No error 

Correct answer:

Both

Explanation:

In this question, the nouns "both" and "triplets" disagree. Triplets would suggest three things, while "both" only applies to differentiating between two options. Therefore "both" should be replaced, perhaps with a word like "all."

Example Question #1381 : Gmat Verbal

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

All students in my program hope to become a rich, famous author, but statistics indicate that none of us will.

Possible Answers:

All students in my program hope to become rich, famous authors, but statistics indicate that we will.

All students in my program hope to become some rich famous authors, but statistics indicate that none of us will.

All students in my program hope to become a rich, famous author, but statistics indicate that not any of us will.

All students in my program hope to become rich, famous authors, but statistics indicate that none of us will.

All students in my program hope to become rich, famous authors, but statistics indicate that none of them will.

Correct answer:

All students in my program hope to become rich, famous authors, but statistics indicate that none of us will.

Explanation:

In this sentence, "all students" establishes the subject as plural. Therefore the "rich, famous author" must be changed to be plural: "All students in my program wish to become rich, famous authors." 

Because the writer is included in "all students in my program," the most correct version of this sentence would include the author in the assertion that "none of us will."

Example Question #1181 : Sentence Correction

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.

Although they were on time, the students had their pencil sharpened or their drawing pad out at the beginning of class.

Possible Answers:

the students were having their pencils sharpened or their drawing pads out at the beginning of class.

the students did not have their pencil sharpened or their drawing pads out at the beginning of class.

the students were not having their pencils sharpened or their drawing pads out at the beginning of class.

the students had their pencil sharpened and their drawing pad out at the beginning of class.

the students did not have their pencils sharpened or their drawing pads out at the beginning of class.

Correct answer:

the students did not have their pencils sharpened or their drawing pads out at the beginning of class.

Explanation:

Because the subject of the sentence is the plural “students,” we have to assume that each student would have his or her own pencil and drawing pad. Therefore, the correct sentence has “pencils” and “drawing pads.” Also, “had sharpened” is more concise and correct than “were having sharpened” or “were having sharpening.”

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