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-ing verb modifiers, confusion

This topic has 5 expert replies and 4 member replies
oavasd Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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-ing verb modifiers, confusion

Post Wed Jun 27, 2012 1:57 pm
I am confused by two different solutions I have seen.
From MGMAT,
Scientists have found high levels of iridium in certain geological formations, suggesting the impact of a meteor millions of years ago.
is a correct sentence, because the verb modifier suggesting ... modifies the entire first clause.
However, in the OG, the sentence: Some anthropologists believe that the genetic homogeneity evident in the world's people is the result of a "population bottleneck"--at some time in the past, our ancestors suffered an event, greatly reducing their numbers and thus our genetic variation.
is wrong, as the agent of reducing is unclear. Couldn't you argue that, similar to in the first sentence, that it was simply modifying the entire clause our ancestors suffered an event?

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Post Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:58 pm
Dear oavasd,

Hi, there. I'm happy to contribute my 2¢ to this discussion. Smile

First of all, in OG13, SC 97, I know the solution says, "the agent of reducing is unclear." It seems to me, it's relatively clear that "an event", which immediately touches the modifying clause, is in fact the target modified by the clause --- the unknown catastrophic event reduced the population. Of course, there are multiple other problems with choice A, which is why it's wrong. I just have doubts about that final sentence of the OG explanation of answer choice A.

I would say --- the verb "to suggest" is a verb in a special category. I don't know exactly what to call it, so I'm going to call the category "argument verbs" ----- verbs that would be used specifically in the construction of a logical argument --- "to suggest", "to imply", "to demonstrate", "to support", "to explain" --- these are verbs that pertain to the relationship of facts. You will find these liberally used in the CR section. When these verbs are in participle form, these participles are likely candidates for modifying not simply a noun but rather a whole clause. In general, with an ordinary "action verb" (to run, to catch, to sell, to own, etc.) it simply wouldn't make sense for them to modify a full noun + verb clause. You need a special kind of verbs to modify a full noun-verb clause, and these "argument verbs" work.

Fred does X, explaining why he . . .

Fred does X, supporting the fact that he . . .

Fred does X, demonstrating that he . .


Does this help? Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Mike Smile

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oavasd Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:50 pm
Thanks Mike!

I am still wondering, do participle phrases modify the subject in the original clause or not? Over at this thread http://gmatclub.com/forum/some-anthropologists-believe-that-the-genetic-homogeneity-ev-134793.html Chris Lele says this is indeed the case. I'm thinking with the type of verbs you are referring to they don't need to modify the subject, but with more action oriented participles, they do. (E.g. I went for a run, whistling the whole way. Here whistling would modify the subject, I)

If this were the case, it would explain the final line in that explanation.

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Post Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:11 am
oavasd wrote:
I am confused by two different solutions I have seen.
From MGMAT,
Scientists have found high levels of iridium in certain geological formations, suggesting the impact of a meteor millions of years ago.
is a correct sentence, because the verb modifier suggesting ... modifies the entire first clause.
[/b]?
If this sentence were to appear on the GMAT, I would be very skeptical. The implication here is that SCIENTISTS are SUGGESTING the impact of a meteor millions of years ago -- not the intended meaning.

When an OA employs a COMMA + VERBing construction, invariably the agent of the VERBing is the subject of the preceding clause.
From the OG12:

SC30:
ANIMAL-HIDE SHIELDS with wooden frames were essential items of military equipment, PROTECTING warriors against enemy arrows and spears.
Here, the ANIMAL-HIDE SHIELDS are PROTECTING warriors.

SC47:
FIVE FLEDGLING SEA EAGLES left their nests in western Scotland this summer, BRINGING to 34 the number of wild birds successfully raised since transplants from Norway began in 1975.
Here, the FIVE FLEDGLING SEA EAGLES are BRINGING to 34 the number of wild birds successfully raised.

SC65:
A BREAKWATER OF ROCKS that would rise six feet above the waterline and act as a buffer, ABSORBING the energy of crashing waves and PROTECTING the beaches.
Here, a BREAKWATER OF ROCKS is ABSORBING and PROTECTING.

SC94:
The recent surge in the number of airplane flights has clogged the nation’s air-traffic control system, LEADING to a 55-percent increase in delays at airports and PROMPTING fears among some officials that safety is being compromised.
Here, the RECENT SURGE is LEADING to an increase in delays and PROMPTING fears.

In each case, the agent of the VERBing is the subject of the preceding clause. Unless a precedent can be found in an official SC, I wouldn't make an exception for a verb such as suggesting.

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Post Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:52 am
oavasd wrote:
Thanks Mike!
I am still wondering, do participle phrases modify the subject in the original clause or not? Over at this thread http://gmatclub.com/forum/some-anthropologists-believe-that-the-genetic-homogeneity-ev-134793.html Chris Lele says this is indeed the case. I'm thinking with the type of verbs you are referring to they don't need to modify the subject, but with more action oriented participles, they do. (E.g. I went for a run, whistling the whole way. Here whistling would modify the subject, I)
If this were the case, it would explain the final line in that explanation.
Dear oavasd,
For the sake of GMAT SC, I will agree with Chris and Mitch that the subject of a participial phrase is the subject of the preceding clause. This is not necessarily true in the broader English language as a whole, and in some constructions, a participle of certain verbs could modify an entire [noun + verb] clause --- but, I took Mitch's advice, scoured the OG, and found absolutely no examples of this. Therefore, in the somewhat more limited world of GMAT SC, you can always rely on the rule that the subject of a participial phrase is the subject of the preceding clause. Consistency with that rule would explain the last sentence of that explanation in the OG. (Consistency is not always the hallmark of the highest level of intelligence, but in this instance, we'll just be glad that GMAC is making their stance on this point easy to identify.)

My Magoosh colleague and good friend Chris Lele is a grammar & verbal guru, and if he and I have different takes on a fine point of grammar, I will typically defer to him. I don't know Mitch personally, but he appears to have a praeternatural understanding of the GMAT in his DNA --- he is indeed a guru.

Does this clear everything up? Do you have any further questions?

Mike Smile

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oavasd Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:58 pm
Thanks, everything is clear now!

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ngk4mba3236 Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:56 pm
GMATGuruNY wrote:
When an OA employs a COMMA + VERBing construction, invariably the agent of the VERBing is the subject of the preceding clause.
this construction seems NOT to be always true on GMAT, i guess!

sometimes this agent could well be the subject of nearest preceding actions such as to verb. right ?

@gmatguru/mikemagoosh - can you please share your thoughts on the above ?

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Post Tue Jul 05, 2016 6:26 am
ngk4mba3236 wrote:
GMATGuruNY wrote:
When an OA employs a COMMA + VERBing construction, invariably the agent of the VERBing is the subject of the preceding clause.
this construction seems NOT to be always true on GMAT, i guess!

sometimes this agent could well be the subject of nearest preceding actions such as to verb. right ?

@gmatguru/mikemagoosh - can you please share your thoughts on the above ?
The two colored portions are not in conflict.
SUBJECT + INFINITIVE is typically considered a type of clause, since this construction includes a subject and a verb form.
Rather than debate this issue, it is probably simplest to apply the following rule:
Generally, a COMMA + VERBing modifier will serve to modify the nearest preceding action and the agent of this action.

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ngk4mba3236 Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:27 pm
GMATGuruNY wrote:
SUBJECT + INFINITIVE is typically considered a type of clause, since this construction includes a subject and a verb form.
Rather than debate this issue, it is probably simplest to apply the following rule:
Generally, a COMMA + VERBing modifier will serve to modify the nearest preceding action and the agent of this action.
rule: when an OA employs a COMMA + VERBing construction, a COMMA + VERBing modifier will serve to modify the nearest preceding action and the agent of this action.

so, on the basis of the above rule we can conclude that -

1. in most cases, this nearest preceding action will be the main action of the preceding clause and the agent of this action will be the subject of the preceding clause.

2. in some cases, this nearest preceding action will be an infinitive verb-form and the agent of this action will be the corresponding subject of this infinitive verb-form .

is this understanding correct ?

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Post Fri Jul 08, 2016 8:13 am
ngk4mba3236 wrote:
GMATGuruNY wrote:
SUBJECT + INFINITIVE is typically considered a type of clause, since this construction includes a subject and a verb form.
Rather than debate this issue, it is probably simplest to apply the following rule:
Generally, a COMMA + VERBing modifier will serve to modify the nearest preceding action and the agent of this action.
rule: when an OA employs a COMMA + VERBing construction, a COMMA + VERBing modifier will serve to modify the nearest preceding action and the agent of this action.

so, on the basis of the above rule we can conclude that -

1. in most cases, this nearest preceding action will be the main action of the preceding clause and the agent of this action will be the subject of the preceding clause.

2. in some cases, this nearest preceding action will be an infinitive verb-form and the agent of this action will be the corresponding subject of this infinitive verb-form .

is this understanding correct ?
Looks good.
Note also that a COMMA + VERBing may also serve to modify a preceding that-clause.
SC65 in the OG12:
The Army Corps of Engineers proposed building parallel to shore a breakwater of rocks that would rise six feet above the waterline and act as a buffer, absorbing the energy of crashing waves and protecting the beaches.
Here, COMMA + absorbing serves to refer not to the preceding main subject (the Army Corp of Engineers) but to the implied subject of the preceding that-clause (a breakwater of rocks).
I would stick to the rule that I suggested above:
Generally, a COMMA + VERBing modifier will serve to modify the nearest preceding action and the agent of this action.

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GMATGuruNY@gmail.com
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