GMAT Verbal : Meaning

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Illogical Predication

In an extensive survey of Fortune 500 companies, recruiters indicated that the quality they prioritize most in an applicant is someone who takes initiative and seeks out new tasks without having to be directly managed at all times.

Possible Answers:

Recruiters indicated in an extensive survey of Fortune 500 companies that the quality they prioritize most in an applicant is someone who take initiative, seeking

In an extensive survey of Fortune 500 companies, recruiters indicated that the quality they prioritize most in an applicant is someone who takes initiative and seeks

In an extensive survey of Fortune 500 companies, recruiters indicated that they most heavily prioritize applicants who take initiative and seek

In an extensive survey of Fortune 500 companies, recruiters indicating that they most heavily prioritize applicants who have the quality of taking initiative and who seek

Recruiters indicated in an extensive survey of Fortune 500 companies that they prioritize most heavily the quality in applicants who take initiative, seeking

Correct answer:

In an extensive survey of Fortune 500 companies, recruiters indicated that they most heavily prioritize applicants who take initiative and seek

Explanation:

Choices "In an extensive survey of Fortune 500 companies, recruiters indicated that the quality they prioritize most in an applicant is someone who takes initiative and seeks" and "Recruiters indicated in an extensive survey of Fortune 500 companies that the quality they prioritize most in an applicant is someone who take initiative, seeking" in this problem showcase a classic case of illogical predication:

"The quality they most prize is...someone who"

Is the person really the quality? The quality could be initiative, or they could be looking for someone who has that quality, but "the quality is someone" is illogical, saying that the quality is a person. Therefore "In an extensive survey of Fortune 500 companies, recruiters indicated that the quality they prioritize most in an applicant is someone who takes initiative and seeks" and "Recruiters indicated in an extensive survey of Fortune 500 companies that the quality they prioritize most in an applicant is someone who take initiative, seeking" are incorrect.

"Recruiters indicated in an extensive survey of Fortune 500 companies that they prioritize most heavily the quality in applicants who take initiative, seeking" has a similarly incorrect meaning in that it speaks of one quality that it never defines: "they prioritize most heavily the quality in applicants who take initiative..." What is the quality?

"In an extensive survey of Fortune 500 companies, recruiters indicated that they most heavily prioritize applicants who take initiative and seek" corrects these issues and is therefore correct - note that by omitting the words "the quality" altogether, "In an extensive survey of Fortune 500 companies, recruiters indicated that they most heavily prioritize applicants who take initiative and seek" is able to describe the quality ("applicants who take initiative") while avoiding the awkward meanings that that the other options discussed have from trying to wedge in that phrase.

"In an extensive survey of Fortune 500 companies, recruiters indicating that they most heavily prioritize applicants who have the quality of taking initiative and who seek" simply isn't a complete sentence, as it does not have a verb for the subject "employers." "indicating" may look like a verb but appears as a participial modifier (think of "John running" vs. "John is running").

Example Question #1 : Illogical Predication

A crippling disorder for many young women, anorexia nervosa is when issues of control and distorted body image result in a dangerously low weight within the context of age, developmental trajectory, and physical health.

Possible Answers:

Anorexia nervosa is a crippling disorder for many young women;

A crippling disorder that affects many young women, anorexia nervosa is

A crippling disorder for many young women, anorexia nervosa develops

A crippling disorder for many young women, anorexia nervosa is

Anorexia nervosa is a crippling disorder for many young women,

Correct answer:

A crippling disorder for many young women, anorexia nervosa develops

Explanation:

In your initial scan of the answer choices, the only difference you will probably notice quickly is that between “is” and “develops” in "A crippling disorder for many young women, anorexia nervosa is", "A crippling disorder that affects many young women, anorexia nervosa is", and "A crippling disorder for many young women, anorexia nervosa develops". Why would you be given such a difference? Look at what follows the verb and you see that "A crippling disorder for many young women, anorexia nervosa is" and "A crippling disorder that affects many young women, anorexia nervosa is" suffer from illogical predication – the subject “anorexia nervosa” is illogically linked by the verb “is” to a clause starting with “when”. An illness or disorder is not a timeframe! The verb “develops” works because the clause then explains when/how the illness develops so "A crippling disorder for many young women, anorexia nervosa develops" is correct. In "Anorexia nervosa is a crippling disorder for many young women,", you again have the problem of what the “when” clause is linked to – there is no action verb like “develops” that can be modified by the clause. For "Anorexia nervosa is a crippling disorder for many young women;" you have an improper use of a semicolon as the clause that follows is not an independent sentence. 

Example Question #3 : Illogical Predication

The study involved 1000 patients whose cardiac disease was not well controlled by existing medications – drugs such as ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers – and had suffered persistent symptoms that had been lasting for at least a year.

Possible Answers:

and who suffered persistent symptoms that had been lasting for at least a year

and had suffered persistent symptoms that had been lasting for at least a year

and suffered from persistent symptoms that had lasted for at least a year

but were suffering from persistent symptoms that had been lasting for a year or more

but had suffered from persistent symptoms that lasted for a year or more

Correct answer:

and who suffered persistent symptoms that had been lasting for at least a year

Explanation:

This sentence contains a tricky sentence construction issue that you will likely miss unless you “Slash and Burn” the unnecessary parts of the sentence. The sentence is trying to show that there are two things relating to the 1000 patients: patients “whose cardiac disease was not well controlled….and who had not suffered persistent symptoms”. In "and had suffered persistent symptoms that had been lasting for at least a year", "and suffered from persistent symptoms that had lasted for at least a year", "but were suffering from persistent symptoms that had been lasting for a year or more" and "but had suffered from persistent symptoms that lasted for a year or more" the verb forms following the dash are illogically referring back to cardiac disease. Take "and suffered from persistent symptoms that had lasted for at least a year" for instance - without the “and who” it reads like this: “patients whose cardiac disease was not well controlled and suffered…” The suffered is not referring back to patients but is necessarily part of the “whose” clause and is commanded illogically by “cardiac disease”. Only "and who suffered persistent symptoms that had been lasting for at least a year" corrects this issue - that choice should be a major “decision points” hint to carefully analyze why the “who” might be required in this sentence. Answer is "and who suffered persistent symptoms that had been lasting for at least a year".

Example Question #4 : Illogical Predication

The endangered giraffes have sometimes been shot by farmers trying to save their crops when they are foraging for late-night snacks, or by poachers allowed access to help guard the fields.

Possible Answers:

trying to save their crops when the animals are foraging for late-night snacks, or by poachers

trying to save their crops when the animals are foraging for late-night snacks or poachers

who are trying to save their crops when the animals are foraging for late-night snacks or poachers who are

trying to save their crops when they are foraging for late-night snacks, or by poachers

who are trying to save their crops when they are foraging for late-night snacks, or by poachers who are

Correct answer:

trying to save their crops when the animals are foraging for late-night snacks, or by poachers

Explanation:

This problem is primarily testing logical meaning, pronoun reference, and sentence construction. Whenever you have a pronoun choice in the answers, start there: "trying to save their crops when they are foraging for late-night snacks, or by poachers" and "who are trying to save their crops when they are foraging for late-night snacks, or by poachers who are" use the pronoun “they” while the remaining choices use “animals”. This is a major hint that the pronoun “they” might have a reference problem and indeed it does: it is not the farmers who are “foraging for late-night snacks” but rather the giraffes! The use of the word “animals” corrects this problem so it must be "trying to save their crops when the animals are foraging for late-night snacks or poachers", "trying to save their crops when the animals are foraging for late-night snacks, or by poachers" or "who are trying to save their crops when the animals are foraging for late-night snacks or poachers who are".

The most obvious decision point between the remaining choices is the use of “or poachers” in "trying to save their crops when the animals are foraging for late-night snacks or poachers" and "who are trying to save their crops when the animals are foraging for late-night snacks or poachers who are" versus “or by poachers” in "trying to save their crops when the animals are foraging for late-night snacks, or by poachers". A closer look (and the use of slash-and-burn to simplify the sentence) shows that it should be: the giraffes have been shot by farmers doing X, or BY poachers doing Y. Without the word “by”, it seems that the last part is linked to what the animals are doing when it is really a separate component going back to who is shooting the giraffes. If you read "trying to save their crops when the animals are foraging for late-night snacks or poachers" and "who are trying to save their crops when the animals are foraging for late-night snacks or poachers who are" carefully it seems that the giraffes might be foraging for poachers – clearly illogical! The correct answer is "trying to save their crops when the animals are foraging for late-night snacks, or by poachers".

Example Question #1 : Meaning

Until 2010, a state tax regulation known as the “80-20 rule” required that condominium associations receive at least 80 percent of their gross income from their tenant-shareholders, and no more than 20 percent from other sources, such as ground-floor rent for restaurants.

Possible Answers:

required condominium associations to receive at least 80 percent of their gross income from their tenant-shareholders, and have no more than 20 percent from other sources, such as

required that condominium associations receive at least 80 percent of their gross income from their tenant-shareholders, and have no more than 20 percent from other sources, such as

required that condominium associations receive at least 80 percent of their gross income from their tenant-shareholders, and no more than 20 percent from other sources, such as

requiring that condominium associations receive at least 80 percent of their gross income from their tenant-shareholders, and have no more than 20 percent from other sources, such as

required condominium associations to receive at least 80 percent of their gross income from their tenant-shareholders, and to have no more than 20 percent from other sources, like

Correct answer:

required that condominium associations receive at least 80 percent of their gross income from their tenant-shareholders, and no more than 20 percent from other sources, such as

Explanation:

The most important decision point in this problem relates to the sometimes subtle error of "illogical predication" - when the subject is not logically linked to what follows. Before you get to that, you can quickly eliminate as "requiring that condominium associations receive at least 80 percent of their gross income from their tenant-shareholders, and have no more than 20 percent from other sources, such as" there is no active verb - “requiring” is just a participle. In "required condominium associations to receive at least 80 percent of their gross income from their tenant-shareholders, and have no more than 20 percent from other sources, such as", "required that condominium associations receive at least 80 percent of their gross income from their tenant-shareholders, and have no more than 20 percent from other sources, such as", and "required condominium associations to receive at least 80 percent of their gross income from their tenant-shareholders, and to have no more than 20 percent from other sources, like" “have no more…” is incorrect: you do not “have 20% of your income from other sources” you “receive 20% of your income from other sources”. Only "required that condominium associations receive at least 80 percent of their gross income from their tenant-shareholders, and no more than 20 percent from other sources, such as" gets the predication correct: “require that associations receive at least 80% from this…, and no more than 20% from other sources” The comma confuses some students but it is there to make it clear that the first part ends after “from shareholders.” The sentence is really “receive at least 80% from this and no more than 20% from this…”. Answer is "required that condominium associations receive at least 80 percent of their gross income from their tenant-shareholders, and no more than 20 percent from other sources, such as".

Example Question #6 : Illogical Predication

Trust in the medical field has been declining for decades, and the most tangible and immediate damage of that change may be public health and safety.

Possible Answers:

had been to

has been

may be to

will be

Correct answer:

may be to

Explanation:

With only one concrete decision point (the verb choice and what follows), you need to figure out what is really going on in the sentence. Often this is best done by using “slash-and-burn” to eliminate any garbage and only read the core elements. The last part of the sentence in "may be" is really “the damage…may be public health and safety.” This is clearly illogical predication! Public health and safety are not “damage”.

Leveraging the fact that "had been to" and "may be to" have the necessary “to” at the end, you can see that "may be to" is correct: “the damage…may be TO public health and safety.” You can have damage TO public health and safety - this option makes sense. "had been to" – the only other answer with the necessary “to” – is incorrect as the past perfect tense “had been” cannot be used with present perfect “has been” used earlier in the sentence. Correct answer is "may be to".

Example Question #1 : Logical Meaning

With productivity slowing substantially in recent years, questions have re-emerged about whether computer technology can power economic growth like the steam engine and the printing press.

Possible Answers:

if computer technology can power economic growth like the way the steam engine and the printing press did

if computer technology can power economic growth as the steam engine and the internal combustion engine of the past do

whether computer technology can power economic growth like the steam engine and the printing press

whether computer technology can power economic growth the way the steam engine and the printing press did

whether technology can power economic growth as the steam engine and the printing press do

Correct answer:

whether computer technology can power economic growth the way the steam engine and the printing press did

Explanation:

The end of this sentence needs to logically convey whether computer technology can power economic growth in the same way that the steam engine and the printing press used to power economic growth when they were important. "whether computer technology can power economic growth like the steam engine and the printing press", "whether technology can power economic growth as the steam engine and the printing press do", and "if computer technology can power economic growth as the steam engine and the internal combustion engine of the past do" all compare computer technology to the PRESENT impact of the steam engine and the printing press on economic growth – clearly illogical as those have no impact today on economic growth today. "whether computer technology can power economic growth the way the steam engine and the printing press did" and "if computer technology can power economic growth like the way the steam engine and the printing press did" make the proper comparison between computer technology today and the steam engine and printing press in the past. "if computer technology can power economic growth like the way the steam engine and the printing press did" is wrong, however, because of the redundant and incorrect structure “like the way” and the incorrect conditional “if” that starts the clause. "whether computer technology can power economic growth the way the steam engine and the printing press did" uses the correct “whether” and makes a logical and proper comparison.

Example Question #2 : Logical Meaning

With the approval ratings among his constituents and the stock market dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try stimulating the economy.

Possible Answers:

the stock market and with the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives that will try to stimulate

the stock market and the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try and stimulate

the approval ratings among his constituents and the stock market dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives trying to stimulate

the stock market and the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try to stimulate

the approval ratings among his constituents and the stock market dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try stimulating

Correct answer:

the stock market and the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try to stimulate

Explanation:

This problem features several subtle meaning-related errors, errors that are much easier to spot and understand if you use good Decision Points strategy to identify the major differences between answer choices.

Note first that choices "the approval ratings among his constituents and the stock market dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try stimulating"/"the approval ratings among his constituents and the stock market dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives trying to stimulate" and "the stock market and the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try and stimulate"/"the stock market and with the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives that will try to stimulate"/"the stock market and the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try to stimulate" flip the order of "the approval ratings" and "the stock market." Is that important? In "the approval ratings among his constituents and the stock market dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try stimulating" and "the approval ratings among his constituents and the stock market dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives trying to stimulate", "the approval ratings among" applies to both nouns that follow it ("his constituents and the stock market"), creating an illogical meaning: the stock market doesn't give approval ratings! By changing that order and putting the stock market first, "the stock market and the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try and stimulate", "the stock market and with the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives that will try to stimulate", and "the stock market and the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try to stimulate" fix that error, keeping "the approval ratings among" separate and applicable only to "his constituents."

In choice "the approval ratings among his constituents and the stock market dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives trying to stimulate", the phrase " the president announced a series of spending initiatives trying to stimulate" assigns the verb "trying" to the spending initiatives. But that's not logical either - initiatives are inanimate and can't "try" to do anything; it's the president trying to stimulate the economy, not the initiatives. So "the approval ratings among his constituents and the stock market dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives trying to stimulate" is also incorrect for a meaning reason.

"the stock market and with the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives that will try to stimulate" makes a very similar meaning error: by saying "spending initiatives that will try to stimulate" this choice makes it seem again like the initiatives will try, and that just cannot be true.

Between "the stock market and the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try and stimulate" and "the stock market and the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try to stimulate", there is a one-word difference: "the stock market and the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try and stimulate" has "try and stimulate" while "the stock market and the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try to stimulate" has "try to stimulate." While in common speech you may be accustomed to hearing the two used interchangeably, the "and" creates a totally different meaning - by linking two parallel verbs ("try" and "stimulate"), "and" creates the meaning that those two actions are independent. That's an incorrect meaning: "stimulate" is exactly what the president is trying to do. "Try to stimulate" conveys that meaning properly, making answer choice "the stock market and the approval ratings among his constituents dropping rapidly, the president announced a series of spending initiatives to try to stimulate" correct.

Example Question #3 : Logical Meaning

Doctors sometimes insist that their patients’ illnesses are the result of depression, but in ascribing these ailments to a psychological disorder, the patients are in effect told that these illnesses are all in their head.

Possible Answers:

in ascribing these ailments to a psychological disorder

in ascribing a psychological disorder as the cause for these ailments

if these ailments are ascribed as the cause for a psychological disorder

if these ailments are ascribed to a psychological disorder

in ascribing a psychological disorder to these ailments

Correct answer:

if these ailments are ascribed to a psychological disorder

Explanation:

In analyzing the decision points between the five answer choices, you should first notice the difference between “in ascribing” in "in ascribing these ailments to a psychological disorder", "in ascribing a psychological disorder as the cause for these ailments", and "in ascribing a psychological disorder to these ailments" and "if these ailments are ascribed" in "if these ailments are ascribed as the cause for a psychological disorder" and "if these ailments are ascribed to a psychological disorder". Additionally, you should see that "if these ailments are ascribed as the cause for a psychological disorder" and "in ascribing a psychological disorder as the cause for these ailments" contain the words “as a cause” while the other choices do not. Probably the easiest of those decision points to assess is the addition of “as a cause”. The word "ascribe" already means "to credit or assign, as to a cause or source" so "if these ailments are ascribed as the cause for a psychological disorder" and "in ascribing a psychological disorder as the cause for these ailments" are redundant. For "in ascribing these ailments to a psychological disorder" and "in ascribing a psychological disorder to these ailments" the use of the modifying phrase “in ascribing” illogically modifies the patients, suggesting that the patients are the ones doing the ascribing. Clearly, it is the doctor who is doing the ascribing and the “if” clause, which does not then modify the patients, makes the meaning logical. Correct answer is "if these ailments are ascribed to a psychological disorder".

Example Question #4 : Logical Meaning

With some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than does any European country.

Possible Answers:

As some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than does any other European country.

With some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than does any European country.

With some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than does any other European country.

Because it has some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than any European country does.

Because of some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than does any European country.

Correct answer:

With some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than does any other European country.

Explanation:

This problem (like many others) tests logical meaning. Note the use of the word "other" in choices "As some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than does any other European country." and "With some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than does any other European country.", and compare that to the usage in "With some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than does any European country."/"Because of some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than does any European country."/"Because it has some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than any European country does.". Can the UK have more invasive species than any European country, when it is a European country itself? Logically, no - it can have the most of any country in Europe, but not more than any country. The best it can do is "tie" itself. So this sentence requires the use of "other" to be logically correct.

Then notice the major difference between "As some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than does any other European country." and "With some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than does any other European country.". The UK has some of the busiest (air)ports, but it is not itself the busiest airports and ports. So "As some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than does any other European country." is illogical, meaning that "With some of the busiest airports and ports in Europe, the United Kingdom has far more invasive species of certain types than does any other European country." must be the correct answer.

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