This article is the third in the series of “5 strategies the GMAT uses to distort meaning”. In this article we will talk about the third strategy which is change in meaning due to “change of conjunctions”.
At the end of this article, there are two practice questions based on this strategy. You can click here to view the first article that outlines the 5 strategies. Click here to read about the second strategy.
Strategy 3 – Change of Conjunctions
How does GMAC use this strategy: Conjunctions connect two or more parts of the sentence and establish certain relationship between/among these parts. Thus, conjunctions are connectors.
Each conjunction/connector establishes a certain relationship. Thus, if we change the conjunction/connector, the relationship expressed may change, thereby changing the meaning of the sentence. In the table below some of the commonly used connectors are presented. This is not an exhaustive list, but just a representative one.
Lets take a simple example below:
Now per this sentence, Tom loves to eat sandwiches with cheese – i.e. sandwiches that have cheese in them. Thus, if we compare the two sentences we get the difference in the implied meaning. In sentence 1, when the two entities “sandwiches”, “cheese” were combined using “and”, we got the sense of two independent entities that Tom loves to eat. However, in sentence 2, by using “with”, now we do not consider sandwiches and cheese as two separated entities. They are somehow connected with each other – in this case obviously, cheese is used in the sandwich. But notice how both meanings are absolutely logical. This is exactly how GMAT may introduce a difference in meaning.
Lets take another set of example sentences below:
Per this sentence, Amy does two things. She eats a balanced diet and she does regular workouts. Pretty logical meaning!!
Now per this sentence, Amy only does one of the two things. She either eats balanced diet. Or she does regular workouts. This is also logical. (From personal experience I can tell that there are times when I only do one or the other. But yes, I know doing both is what makes the difference!!)
Now per this sentence, Amy does one action – eats balanced diet – so that she can do the other action effectively – workout. This is also logical. (From personal experience, I can vouch for this as well. When I eat in balanced proportions, I feel energized and I can do better workouts!!)
So as you can see, all three sentences above are logical but all three communicate different meanings and this happened because of change in the connectors/conjunctions. This is exactly how GMAT may introduce a difference in meaning.
Official question 1 – OG VR2 – Q#31
Now lets take an official question:
Nearly two tons of nuclear-reactor fuel have already been put into orbit around the Earth, and the chances of a collision involving such material increase greatly as the amount of both space debris and satellites continue to rise.
A. as the amount of both space debris and satellites continue to rise
B. as the rise continues in both the amount of satellites and space debris
C. as the amount of space debris and the number of satellites continue to rise
D. with the continually increasing amount of space debris and the number of satellites
E. with the amount of space debris continuing to increase along with the number of satellites
Intended meaning from Choice A (and Correct Choice C): The intended meaning of the sentence from choice A can be inferred as follows:
- Nearly two tons of nuclear-reactor fuel have been put into orbit around the Earth.
- The chances of collision involving such material increase greatly as two things continue to increase:
a. the amount of space debris AND
b. the number of satellites
Grammatically Correct but Incorrect choice (E) – Notice how in choice E the test makers have changed the connector of the two things. Now the connection is made with “along with”. This now implies that there is a relationship between the “increase in number of satellites” and “rise in amount of space debris”. It implies that amount of space debris increases as the number of satellites increase. Although perfectly logical, this is not what choice A implied. And hence this choice is incorrect.
Official question 2 – GMATPrep – Largest trade-book publisher
Now let’s take another official question.
The largest trade-book publisher in the US has announced the creation of a new digital imprint division, under which it will publish about 20 purely digital works to be sold online as either electronic books or downloadable copies that can be printed upon purchase.
A. works to be sold online as either electronic books or
B. works to sell them online, either as electronic books or
C. works and it will sell them online as either electronic books or as
D. works, and selling them online as either electronic books or as
E. works, and it will sell them online as either electronic books or
Intended meaning from Choice A: Per choice A, the publisher will publish these works with a purpose of having them sold online. Note clearly that this choice does not indicate who will sell the works. It only indicates that online selling is the purpose of taking on this project.
Grammatically Correct but Incorrect choice E: This choice communicates the sense that publisher will publish these works and will sell them online. Notice how that the purpose of embarking on that project is no longer communicated. By using “and”, the sentence simply presents the two as independent facts rather than as purpose relationship. Furthermore, this choice adds the information that publisher will be selling the books online. This information is not presented in the original sentence. So notice how by simply changing the way the two entities are connected, meaning can be drastically changed. This is why it is of utmost importance that one reads and understands the meaning of the original sentence.
How to evaluate choices that change the meaning?
- Understand the logical meaning of the original choice.
- Note what ideas have been communicated
- Note how the ideas have been connected.
Exercise Sentence 1 – Drug To Market
The possibilities opened by the recent federal court decision are frightening because now a radical pro-business secretary, in principle, can bypass the clinical trial system and also the F.D.A. approval process in order that he brings a drug faster to the market.
A. bypass the clinical trial system and also the F.D.A. approval process in order that he brings a drug faster to the market
B. bypass the clinical trial system or the F.D.A. approval process in order to bring a drug faster to market
C. bring a drug faster to the market along with the F.D.A. approval process by bypassing the clinical trial system
D. bypass the clinical trial system and the F.D.A. approval process to bring a drug faster to the market
E. bypasses the clinical trial system and the F.D.A. approval process, bringing a drug faster to the market
Exercise Sentence 2 – Quality of Teaching
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Finland requires that all teachers have master’s degree and funds the same to ensure that its teachers impart high quality of teaching.
A. degree and funds the same to ensure
B. degree, funds the same, and ensures
C. degree and fund the same to ensure
D. degree, funds the same, ensuring
E. degree, funding the same to ensure