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question related to singular versus plural and being

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The data being collected in the current geological survey are providing a strong warning for engineers as they consider the new dam project, but their greatest importance might lie in how they influence the upcoming decision by those same engineers on whether to retrofit 75 bridges in the survey zone.

(A) The data being collected in the current geological survey are providing a strong warning for engineers as they consider the new dam project, but their greatest importance

(B) The data being collected in the current geological survey provide a strong warning for engineers as they consider the new dam project, but its greatest importance

(C) The data collected in the current geological survey is providing a strong warning for engineers as they consider the new dam project, but their greatest importance

(D) The data collected in the current geological survey provides a strong warning for engineers in consideration of the new dam project, but its greatest importance

(E) The data collected in the current geological survey provide a strong warning for engineers in consideration for the new dam project, but the greatest importance

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by Max.P@EMPOWERgmat.com » Tue Oct 02, 2018 1:50 pm
Hello Everyone!

Let's tackle this question, one issue at a time, to find the correct choice! Before we dive in, here is the original question with any major differences between each option highlighted in orange:

The data being collected in the current geological survey are providing a strong warning for engineers as they consider the new dam project, but their greatest importance might lie in how they influence the upcoming decision by those same engineers on whether to retrofit 75 bridges in the survey zone.

(A) The data being collected in the current geological survey are providing a strong warning for engineers as they consider the new dam project, but their greatest importance
(B) The data being collected in the current geological survey provide a strong warning for engineers as they consider the new dam project, but its greatest importance
(C) The data collected in the current geological survey is providing a strong warning for engineers as they consider the new dam project, but their greatest importance
(D) The data collected in the current geological survey provides a strong warning for engineers in consideration of the new dam project, but its greatest importance
(E) The data collected in the current geological survey provide a strong warning for engineers in consideration for the new dam project, but the greatest importance

After a quick glance over the options, a few major differences jump out:

1. "The data being collected" vs. "The data collected"
2. Subject-verb agreement: are providing / provide / is providing / provides
3. Phrasing: as they consider / in consideration of / in consideration for
4. Pronoun agreement: their / its

The easiest place to start here would be subject-verb agreement because it's something most test-takers are comfortable with, and it will eliminate a few answers right away. So - what is the subject of the sentence? Data! I know it may sound strange to some people, but the word "data" is a PLURAL word (it's the plural form of "datum"). This means we need to use a PLURAL verb to match! Let's see how each option stacks up, and eliminate any that use singular verbs:

(A) The data being collected in the current geological survey are providing a strong warning for engineers as they consider the new dam project, but their greatest importance
(B) The data being collected in the current geological survey provide a strong warning for engineers as they consider the new dam project, but its greatest importance
(C) The data collected in the current geological survey is providing a strong warning for engineers as they consider the new dam project, but their greatest importance
(D) The data collected in the current geological survey provides a strong warning for engineers in consideration of the new dam project, but its greatest importance
(E) The data collected in the current geological survey provide a strong warning for engineers in consideration for the new dam project, but the greatest importance

We can eliminate options C & D because they use singular verbs for a plural subject.

Now, let's move on to #4 on our list: pronoun agreement. In this sentence, the "their/its" we highlighted in orange refers back to the word "data." Since "data" is a PLURAL word, we must choose a plural pronoun to match! Let's see how each remaining option stacks up, and eliminate any options that use singular pronouns:

(A) The data being collected in the current geological survey are providing a strong warning for engineers as they consider the new dam project, but their greatest importance

This is our CORRECT choice! It uses proper subject-verb agreement with the verb "are," and it uses proper pronoun-antecedent agreement with the plural "their" to refer back to the plural "data."

(B) The data being collected in the current geological survey provide a strong warning for engineers as they consider the new dam project, but its greatest importance

This is INCORRECT because it uses the singular pronoun "its" to refer back to the plural "data." This doesn't match in number, so it's wrong.

(E) The data collected in the current geological survey provide a strong warning for engineers in consideration for the new dam project, but the greatest importance

This is also INCORRECT, but for a couple reasons. First, taking out the pronoun altogether makes this vague - the greatest importance of what/who? Second, there is a problem with the phrase "in consideration for" because it doesn't follow the proper idiomatic structure "in consideration of."

There you have it - option A was the correct choice!


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answer

by Gitika_Lakhotia » Thu Oct 04, 2018 3:52 am
A detailed reply already stated above.

In a long complicated sentence like this one, it is easier to spot subject-verb error if we break the sentence into smaller parts and remove the "fluff".

The data (being collected in the current geological survey) are providing (a strong warning for engineers as they consider the new dam project,) but their greatest importance might lie in (how they influence the upcoming decision by those same engineers on whether to retrofit 75 bridges in the survey zone. )

So, the structure of this sentence and the answer choices can be seen below-

(A) The data ....... are providing ....... but their greatest importance might lie in ...... - seems correct
(B) The data .... provide ..... its greatest importance - "it" is incorrectly used here for plural subject
(C) The data .... is providing ...... but their greatest importance - "is" is incorrectly used for plural subject
(D) The data ..... provides ..... but its greatest importance - "provides" and "its" used incorrectly for plural subject
(E) The data collected in the current geological survey provide a strong warning for engineers in consideration for the new dam project, but the greatest importance - no pronoun for engineers here. This makes the sentence vague.