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## How comma changes the modified entity ?

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vikram4689 GMAT Titan
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How comma changes the modified entity ? Wed May 09, 2012 6:48 pm
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What does modifier "far less than most other laserjet printers" modifies in each sentence
a)CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels of noise far less than most other laserjet printers
b)CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels of noise, far less than most other laserjet printers

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vikram4689 GMAT Titan
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Mon May 14, 2012 9:36 am
Idea is to learn how " , " changes before the modifier changes the modified entity in previous clause. Those who don't like above sentences (since no one replied) can take some other example to explain same concept.

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Mike@Magoosh GMAT Instructor
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Tue May 15, 2012 12:16 pm
vikram4689 wrote:
What does modifier "far less than most other laserjet printers" modifies in each sentence
a)CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels of noise far less than most other laserjet printers
b)CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels of noise, far less than most other laserjet printers
I would say --- sentence (b) is correct, and sentence (a) is questionable. In (b) the clause after the sentence modifies 43 decibels, very clear.

Sentence (a) is in a grey limbo zone between (b) and
(c) CLP-300 laserjet printer emits 43 decibels fewer than do most other laserjet printers.

This is a very different sentence. In (c) the 43 decibels clearly is a difference between the CLP-300 laserjet and other printers. In (b), the 43 decibels is clearly the exact noise level of the CLP-300 laserjet. In (a), there's ambiguity.

BTW, "decibels of noise" is redundant --- decibels only measure one thing.

BTW, you can count decibels, so the correct comparative is "fewer", not "less."

BTW, we want to compare what the CLP-300 laserjet creates to what the other printers create, so we need the verb "do" after the comparison.

That's my take. Let me know if you have any further questions.

Mike

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vikram4689 GMAT Titan
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Tue May 15, 2012 6:39 pm
Quote:
BTW, you can count decibels, so the correct comparative is "fewer", not "less."

BTW, we want to compare what the CLP-300 laserjet creates to what the other printers create, so we need the verb "do" after the comparison.
Can we conclude that because of above reasons both sentences are INCORRECT

Quote:
In (b) the clause after the sentence modifies 43 decibels, very clear.

Sentence (a) is in a grey limbo zone between (b) and
(c) CLP-300 laserjet printer emits 43 decibels fewer than do most other laserjet printers.
I didn't get comment in BLUE. Isn't "far less..." an adjective. Can you add some points on how addition of "," changes the structure of sentence(this is #1 point i want to learn from this discussion)

Quote:
In (a), there's ambiguity.
What's ambiguous in (a). Did you mean that (a) can express meaning similar to (b) and (c)

Let me add (d) CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels of noise, far quieter than most other laserjet printers
I think (d) is incorrect because 43 decibels cannot be quieter. Am i correct here

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Mike@Magoosh GMAT Instructor
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Wed May 16, 2012 12:21 pm
vikram4689,

First of all, for clarity, here are all three sentences, with the other grammar mistakes corrected.

(a) CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels of noise far fewer than do most other laserjet printers.
(b) CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels of noise, far fewer than do most other laserjet printers.
(c) CLP-300 laserjet printer emits 43 decibels fewer than do most other laserjet printers.

(b) is correct. Here, the phrase "43 decibels" quantifies the amount of noise the CLP-300 laserjet printer makes, and points out that this level of noise is less than that of other printers. The structure of this sentence is very clear.

(c) is also correct, and says something quite different. Here, the phrase "43 decibels" is not the level of noise of any one printer, but rather than difference between the CLP-300 laserjet printer and (presumably) the next noisiest printer. The structure of this sentence is very clear.

(a), I would argue, is ambiguous, because it's in a grey area between what (b) conveys and what (c) conveys --- (b) & (c) give two different meanings to the "43 decibel" quantity, and it's unclear which of these two (a) intends. That, in a nutshell, the problem caused by the missing comma.

For more on how the comma changes the meaning, read:
1) http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/that-vs-which-on-the-gmat/
2) http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/gmat-grammar-vital-noun-modifiers/

Here, the comma is even more tricky, because there's a comparison. In general

structure #1 = A is P, more/less than B

structure #2 = A is P more/less than B

Both compare A & B. Statement #1 gives the value/signification of A itself, P, and then adds secondarily, this happens to be more or less than B. In statement #2, P is very specifically the difference between A and B.

For example
Structure #1 = I earn \$30,000, more than Fred does.

Structure #2 = I earn \$30,000 more than Fred does.

In the first, \$30K would be the actual value of my salary, and then I also add, it's more than the value of Fred's salary. In the second, we have no idea of the actual value of my salary, because the figure \$30K is now the difference between my and Fred's salaries. In the first case, we know I made \$30K, and Fred makes less --- maybe \$29K, maybe \$25K, etc. In the second, all we know is the difference --- perhaps I make \$100K and Fred makes \$70K, or I make \$450K and Fred makes \$420K. Do you see the stark difference here?

(d) CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels of noise, far quieter than most other laserjet printers.
... is missing a verb after the comparison:
(d2) CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels of noise, far quieter than are most other laserjet printers.
Now, in this form --- quieter (describing relative noise level) is a perfectly appropriate modifier for "43 decibel." What bothers me about this is the incomplete parallelism --- "The CLP-300 . . . emits . . [and] other laserjet printers are ..." Because of that parallelism problem, I don't believe this sentence would be correct on GMAT SC.

Does all this make sense?

Mike

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vikram4689 GMAT Titan
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Wed May 16, 2012 6:59 pm
Quote:
(d) CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels of noise, far quieter than most other laserjet printers.
quieter (describing relative noise level) is a perfectly appropriate modifier for "43 decibel
Grammatically "quieter" modifies "43 decibel" but logically isn't it incorrect as 43 decibels can never be quieter

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Mike@Magoosh GMAT Instructor
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Thu May 17, 2012 1:42 pm
vikram4689 wrote:
Grammatically "quieter" modifies "43 decibel" but logically isn't it incorrect as 43 decibels can never be quieter
This is a comparison. Think about it ----

"...taller than three feet...."
"...longer than seven years..."
"...more than six eggs..."

The quantities "three feet", "seven years", and "six eggs" are (like "43 decibels") fixed values, and we often establish comparisons to fixed values. It's true, the "three feet" will never be taller, and the "seven years" will never be any longer, but that's not the point: the point is the comparison.

Does that make sense?

Mike

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vikram4689 GMAT Titan
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Thu May 17, 2012 7:49 pm
Isnt the above construction opposite to original. In original sentence, fixed no. is before the comparison
Ray is taller than 3 feet makes sense BUT 3 feet are taller than Ray does not make sense

Similarly,
Laser Printers are quieter than 43 decibels makes sense but 43 decibels are quieter than Laser Printer does not make sense

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Mike@Magoosh GMAT Instructor
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Fri May 18, 2012 11:37 am
vikram4689 wrote:
Isnt the above construction opposite to original. In original sentence, fixed no. is before the comparison
Ray is taller than 3 feet makes sense BUT 3 feet are taller than Ray does not make sense

Similarly,
Laser Printers are quieter than 43 decibels makes sense but 43 decibels are quieter than Laser Printer does not make sense
Quite true, quite true, but the sentence in question does not have that second structure. Rather, the structure is:

(d) CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels, far quieter than are most other laserjet printers.

This has the same structure as

(1) On that one sale, Bert made \$392,000, far more than I make in a year.
(2) In one day, Hilda hiked 25 miles, farther than I hiked in my week-long trip.
(3) The peregrine falcon reaches speeds of 200 mph, far faster than any car.

In these three and in (d), there's a independent clause ending with a unit of measurement, and then a comparison after the comma. This is a bonafide 100% correct structure.

The problem with (d), as I indicated above --- the comparison is spot-on correct, but I am troubled by the awkward lack of parallelism between the verbs "emit . . . are" --- I believe this would not be up to GMAT SC standards because of that.

Does the structure of the comparisons make sense to you?

Mike

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vikram4689 GMAT Titan
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Fri May 18, 2012 6:51 pm
Expression "far quieter/fewer/more/farther" is an adverb that should make sense with verb and noun it touches.

(1)On that one sale, Bert made \$392,000, far more than I make in a year.
comparison "\$392,000 >> I make in a year" is valid because "I make in a year" will be dollars of the form \$392,000 and hence both entities are parallel and "more" is appropriate word for comparing dollars

similarly,
"25 miles >> I hiked in my week-long trip" I hiked in my week-long trip == a distance
"reaches speed of 200 mph far faster than any car reaches" both underlined parts describe TIME and "faster" is appropriate word for comparing Time

In,
CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels, far fewer than do most other laserjet printers
emits only 43 decibels far fewer than most other laserjet printers emit both underlined parts describe number of decibels emitted and fewer is appropriate word for comparison

In,
CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels, far quieter than do most other laserjet printers
Following above process "quieter" seems awkward, am i missing something

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Mike@Magoosh GMAT Instructor
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Mon May 21, 2012 11:23 am
Dear vikram,

CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels, far quieter than are most other laserjet printers.

Again, I am reluctant to parade this sentence as a paragon of fine grammar, because parallelism fails between the verbs "emits" and "are" ---- but we need "are", not "do" in the second clause, because "are quieter" is correct, not "do quieter."

Nevertheless, purely on the point of the comparison, I will argue that "far quieter" is a correct comparative modifier for 43 decibels. I would say: think of this sentence, and the others, in question form. (One powerful trick for checking comparisons is to rephrase them as questions.)

"far more" ---> "how much" ---> "how much did Bert make on that sale?" "Answer: \$392,000"

"farther" ---> "how far" ---> "how far did you hike?" "Answer: 23 miles"

"faster" ---> "how fast" ---> "how fast does the falcon fly?" "Answer: 200 mph"

"far quieter" ---> "how quiet" ---> "how quiet is the CLP-300 laserjet printer?" "Answer: only 43 decibels"

You see, 43 decibels is a quantitative statement "how quiet" (or "how loud") in exactly the same way that "200 mph" is a statement of "how fast", or "25 miles" is a statement of "how far." We are not as used to speaking of "how quiet" and "how loud" in quantitative terms, whereas we regularly talk about speed & distance & time quantitatively. Nevertheless, decibels are the unit of loudness and properly answer the question "how loud" or "how quiet" --- this makes them proper objects for comparative phrases such as "as loud as", "far quieter than", etc.

Does all this make sense?

Mike

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vikram4689 GMAT Titan
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Tue May 22, 2012 1:32 am
Mike@Magoosh wrote:
Dear vikram,

CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels, far quieter than are most other laserjet printers.

Again, I am reluctant to parade this sentence as a paragon of fine grammar, because parallelism fails between the verbs "emits" and "are" ---- but we need "are", not "do" in the second clause, because "are quieter" is correct, not "do quieter."
the reason i said "do" is apt because "emits" (an action) is parallel to "do". "are" is a verb of form "to be" and can only be parallel to another verb of form "to be" see http://www.beatthegmat.com/soar-t62473-15.html#280069

Quote:
"far quieter" ---> "how quiet" ---> "how quiet is the CLP-300 laserjet printer?" "Answer: only 43 decibels"
replace "quieter" with "fewer"(a legitimate construction) does not work here. Also you missed verb "emit" in this question but you have used a verb(fly/hike/make) in all of other 3 sentences. I think question should be "how ____ the CLP-300 laserjet printer emit?" . Fewer but not quiet fits perfectly-"how fewer does the CLP-300 laserjet printer emit?"

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Tue May 22, 2012 2:56 am
I may be interrupting the discussion here, but is it ok to say

(b) CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels of noise, far fewer than do most other laserjet printers.

As

(b) CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels of noise, far fewer than most other laserjet printers do .

Please notice the shifting in "do".

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Wed May 23, 2012 9:03 am
vikram4689 wrote:
the reason i said "do" is apt because "emits" (an action) is parallel to "do". "are" is a verb of form "to be" and can only be parallel to another verb of form "to be" see.
Dear vikram

Yes, precisely. You see, if we didn't have the phrase "far quieter", then the sentence would be something like:

CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels, far fewer than do most other laserjet printers.

Perfect comparison, perfect parallelism, a GMAT SC worth sentence. The comparative "far quieter" changes everything, because in the second phrase, the printer does not "do" quieter than the others, but rather, it "is" quieter than the others. The predicate "quieter" demands a form of the verb "to be." I was providing the verb form needed within the clause. Because we have introduced that comparative, that demands a form of the verb "to be", which takes it out of parallel with the "to do" form that mirrors "to emit." This is a deep grammatical conflict, where the verb form demanded within the clause is not the same as the verb form demanded to create proper parallelism. (I guarantee, the GMAT SC will not make you deal with conundrums like this!) As I have said, for at least two posts in a row, the verb parallelism is highly problematic in this sentence, but I was considering the sentence only to clarify that "far quieter" indeed could refer to & modify "43 decibels." That was the very point you about which you were asking.

Yes, you're right --- using "fewer" rather than "quieter" obviates a host of difficulties. You will recall, the original sentence had "fewer" (or the grammatically incorrect counterpart "less"), and at some point, you asked about "quieter" instead. That's the only reason we are discussing it at all: you asked about it.

vikram4689 wrote:
replace "quieter" with "fewer"(a legitimate construction) does not work here. Also you missed verb "emit" in this question but you have used a verb(fly/hike/make) in all of other 3 sentences. I think question should be "how ____ the CLP-300 laserjet printer emit?" . Fewer but not quiet fits perfectly-"how fewer does the CLP-300 laserjet printer emit?"
Again, the problem is: different predicates demand different verb forms. If the object is "43 decibels", we need a form of "to emit". If the predicate is "quiet" or "quieter", then we need a form of the verb "to be." I didn't miss the verb "to emit" --- rather, I was choosing the verb appropriate the grammatical construction. The following constructions are all grammatically correct:
(a) "How quiet is the CLP-300 laserjet printer?" "Answer: only 43 decibels"
(b) "How much noise does the CLP-300 laserjet printer emit?" "Answer: only 43 decibels"
(c) "How many decibels does the CLP-300 laserjet printer emit?" "Answer: only 43 decibels"
(d) "Is the CLP-300 laserjet printer as loud as other printers?" "Answer: No, it is far quieter: it emits only 43 decibels."
(e) "Does the CLP-300 laserjet printer emit as much noise as other printer?" "Answer: No, far less: it emits only 43 decibels."
(f) "Does the CLP-300 laserjet printer emit as many decibels as other printer?" "Answer: No, only 43 decibels, far fewer."

Incidentally, in the sentence you suggested...
"How fewer the CLP-300 laserjet printer emit?"

...must be changed to
"How many fewer decibels does the CLP-300 laserjet printer emit?"

The corresponding sentence with an adjectival predicate instead of a direct object is ....
"How much quieter is the CLP-300 laserjet printer?"

Both are 100% correct. Notice, the verb required must change between "to be" vs. "to emit", depending on the predicate/object. Is all this clear? Do you have any further questions?

Mike

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Last edited by Mike@Magoosh on Wed May 23, 2012 9:08 am; edited 1 time in total

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Wed May 23, 2012 9:08 am
hey_thr67 wrote:
I may be interrupting the discussion here, but is it ok to say
(1) CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels of noise, far fewer than do most other laserjet printers.
(2) CLP-300 laserjet printer emits only 43 decibels of noise, far fewer than most other laserjet printers do.
Dear hey_thr67,
No interruption at all. I am happy to answer you questions.

Both of your sentences are completely correct. The only difference is --- the first is a little more hoity-toity correct, so it might be what the GMAT SC uses, but the second, although a shade more colloquial, is 100% correct and would never be considered wrong on the GMAT.

I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any further questions.

Mike

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