Logical Meaning In Sentence Correction

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Following are some logical splits typically one would see in GMAT sentence correction -- there are tons of such sentence correction questions in official sources that test us on meaning based logical splits. But we still encounter many new questions that would create doubts in our mind. Objective of this thread is to capture such logical splits one would have encountered

1) What do you add to the payroll ?
a) Workers
b) Number of workers

2) What's the difference between ?
a) Only one of the law firms
b) One of the only law firms

3) What's the difference between ? And which one is better ?
a) In 1989, Amazon was the only company that used credit card for payments.
b) In 1989, Amazon was the only company to use credit card for payments.

4) What do you do to the period/era of revolution (say) ?
a) Initiate an era of revolution
b) Cause an era of revolution
c) Start an era of revolution

Adding more to it

6) a) Why "work environment" is more appropriate than "working environment" - eg: hostile work environment
b) but, "working conditions" is more appropriate than "work conditions" - eg: unsafe working conditions
Last edited by shailendra.sharma on Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by sameerballani » Thu Aug 08, 2013 5:48 am
Adding to this -

5)
a) The bowerbirds of Australia derive their name from the fact that.....
or
b) The bowerbirds of Australia derive their name from the the elaborate bowers of sticks....

My question is that something derives its name by A FACT about something OR by SOMETHING?

Thanks.

shailendra.sharma wrote:Following are some logical splits typically one would see in GMAT sentence correction -- there are tons of such sentence correction questions in official sources that test us on meaning based logical splits. But we still encounter many new questions that would create doubts in our mind. Objective of this thread is to capture such logical splits one would have encountered

1) What do you add to the payroll ?
a) Workers
b) Number of workers

2) What's the difference between ?
a) Only one of the law firms
b) One of the only law firms

3) What's the difference between ? And which one is better ?
a) In 1989, Amazon was the only company that used credit card for payments.
b) In 1989, Amazon was the only company to use credit card for payments.

4) What do you do to the period/era of revolution (say) ?
a) Initiate an era of revolution
b) Cause an era of revolution
c) Start an era of revolution
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by lunarpower » Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:21 am
sameerballani wrote:Adding to this -

5)
a) The bowerbirds of Australia derive their name from the fact that.....
or
b) The bowerbirds of Australia derive their name from the the elaborate bowers of sticks....

My question is that something derives its name by A FACT about something OR by SOMETHING?
you can figure this one out by thinking through it (as you can with most decisions like this).

the sentence is saying that the bowerbirds derive their name from something. that's only going to make sense if it's followed by something that has a similar name.
* the piles of sticks and stuff are called "bowers", so that makes total sense here -- the birds are called "bowerbirds" because of the bowers.
* facts don't have names, so the "fact" thing doesn't make sense.
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by lunarpower » Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:27 am
i received a private message about this thread.
shailendra.sharma wrote:Following are some logical splits typically one would see in GMAT sentence correction -- there are tons of such sentence correction questions in official sources that test us on meaning based logical splits.
well... there's both good and bad here.

the good part is that you've realized that this stuff is based on intended meaning (as opposed to thinking that everything in the world is an "idiom", as is all too common around here).

the bad part, though, is that you haven't fully realized that meaning comes from the surrounding context. i.e., you can't just rip these phrases completely out of their original context, put them here by themselves, and ask "how would i resolve this split?" ... because you need an actual context in which to put them.
what i'm saying is this: you just took these phrases all by themselves and posted them as a question ... which indicates that you don't fully appreciate the role of context in giving the sentence a meaning.

please post the actual context(s) in which you found these phrases; without that context, it's going to be impossible to make most of these decisions.
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by shailendra.sharma » Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:32 am
Hi Ron,

I am posting the sentences that are similar to what I saw. These sentences might have few other small mistakes as I have tried to recall them from my memory - you can suggest me on those mistakes too, but my biggest questions are on the logical differences that I have asked :--

1)
a) The numbers of workers added to the payroll have increased more than employer had expected, increasing the pressure on company financials.
b) Workers added to the payroll have increased more than employer had expected, increasing the pressure on company financials.

My question: In above two sentences, what is more appropriate to say
a) Workers added to the payroll have increased
b) Number of workers added to the payroll have increased


2)
a) Amazon was only one of the internet company to use credit card for payments.
b) Amazaon was one of the only internet company to use credit card for payments.
c) Amazon was only one of the internet company that used credit card for payments.
d) Amazaon was one of the only internet company that used credit card for payments.

My question: Above sentences has two splits: Colored in red and colored in blue
Can you please explain what are the best usage ? In general too, I seem to struggle with different placements of "only".


3)
a) In 1729 Century Newton developed laws of motion, initiating an era of development that led to quantam field theory.
b) In 1729 Century Newton developed laws of motion, starting an era of development that led to quantam field theory.
c) In 1729 Century Newton developed laws of motion, causing an era of development that led to quantam field theory.

My Question: In above sentence, we have split colored in red. Newton's development led to further development - essentially an era (or phase) of development. So, what would be best usage : his development initiated/started/caused an era of development ?

4)
a) Hostile work environment and unsafe working conditions have been found as the most common reasons for high attrition rate.
b) Hostile working environment and unsafe working conditions have been found as the most common reasons for high attrition rate.
c) Hostile work environment and unsafe work conditions have been found as the most common reasons for high attrition rate.
d) Hostile working environment and unsafe work conditions have been found as the most common reasons for high attrition rate.

My Question: Above sentences has two splits: one colored in red, and other one colored in blue. I think the correct and most appropriate version is sentence (a).

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by lunarpower » Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:50 am
shailendra.sharma wrote:1)
a) The numbers of workers added to the payroll have increased more than employer had expected, increasing the pressure on company financials.
b) Workers added to the payroll have increased more than employer had expected, increasing the pressure on company financials.
this one you can figure out with everyday common sense.

can workers themselves "increase"?
nope

can a number of workers "increase?"
yep

there you go.

by the way, there are two other things here that don't make sense:
* "numbers" doesn't work here; it should be "number" (since we're presumably talking about only one number here).
* the use of both "added" and "increased" doesn't make sense, either. i.e., you should say that the # of workers ON the payroll (not added to it) is increasing.
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by lunarpower » Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:50 am
2)
a) Amazon was only one of the internet company to use credit card for payments.
b) Amazaon was one of the only internet company to use credit card for payments.
c) Amazon was only one of the internet company that used credit card for payments.
d) Amazaon was one of the only internet company that used credit card for payments.
none of these makes any sense. go back and check the original.

also, i've said everything i can possibly say about this whole "only one..." thing on this thread:
https://www.beatthegmat.com/one-of-the-t ... tml#174075
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by lunarpower » Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:54 am
shailendra.sharma wrote:3)
a) In 1729 Century Newton developed laws of motion, initiating an era of development that led to quantam field theory.
b) In 1729 Century Newton developed laws of motion, starting an era of development that led to quantam field theory.
c) In 1729 Century Newton developed laws of motion, causing an era of development that led to quantam field theory.
first... well, a "century" is 100 years. 1729 is a year, not a century. (the year 1729 was in the 18th century.)

again, there's no rule for this -- you just have to think about what the words mean.
an "era" is a time period.
can you initiate a time period? sure.
can you start a time period? sure.
can you cause a time period? ...nah.

4)
a) Hostile work environment and unsafe working conditions have been found as the most common reasons for high attrition rate.
b) Hostile working environment and unsafe working conditions have been found as the most common reasons for high attrition rate.
c) Hostile work environment and unsafe work conditions have been found as the most common reasons for high attrition rate.
d) Hostile working environment and unsafe work conditions have been found as the most common reasons for high attrition rate.
the usual versions here are "working conditions" and "work environment", but i certainly wouldn't say that the alternatives (i.e., "work conditions" and "working environment") are wrong.
basically, these are business-related "buzzwords", rather than true idioms of the english language. (they may even be the result of american legal terminology, since both of these phrases are used quite often in US labor law.)

did you actually see this in a GMAT-related problem? because there's no way GMAC would ever test something like this.
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by shailendra.sharma » Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:15 am
Thanks Ron.

- First 3 question were from a good gmat mock test - but I do not have access to check the source.

- Regarding first question above, the numbers was my typing mistake. After mock I checked on google too and got confused, so I posed the question. Few of the sentences in the article (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-0 ... -7-6-.html) use payroll and workers and their rise.

- Regarding third question, 1729 century was also my typing mistake, first I started writing 17th Century and then looked into wikipedia and changed it to year - I missed to remove the Century word. Sorry for those.

- 4th question was from some SC question on gmatclub.

- Thanks for your write-up on "only" - I will read it through.

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by shailendra.sharma » Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:37 am
lunarpower wrote:
2)
a) Amazon was only one of the internet company to use credit card for payments.
b) Amazaon was one of the only internet company to use credit card for payments.
c) Amazon was only one of the internet company that used credit card for payments.
d) Amazaon was one of the only internet company that used credit card for payments.
none of these makes any sense. go back and check the original.

also, i've said everything i can possibly say about this whole "only one..." thing on this thread:
https://www.beatthegmat.com/one-of-the-t ... tml#174075
I read your post and did more research on the usage of "only one of the X", and "one of the only X" -- here are my findings, please verify :--

1) In their own, both the phrase "only one of the X" and "one of the only X" are correct.

2) "Y is only one of the X" means there are many X, but Y is just one of them.
Eg: Tenacity is the only one of the four methods which presents any distinction of a right and a wrong way.

3) "Y is one of the only X" means there are only few X available, and Y is one of them.
Eg: Mr. Joseph is one of the only Harvard graduate in the town.

Thanks.

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by lunarpower » Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:54 pm
shailendra, you really shouldn't be taking this approach. i.e., you shouldn't be trying to make these things "formulaic".
that's really, really hard to do -- and, by contrast, it's easy just to think through each situation.
1) In their own, both the phrase "only one of the X" and "one of the only X" are correct.
this is impossible to judge without context.
these constructions mean different things. so, in any specific context -- i.e., where the intended meaning is established -- one of them will fail to convey that meaning.
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by lunarpower » Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:16 pm
2) "Y is only one of the X" means there are many X, but Y is just one of them.
Eg: Tenacity is the only one of the four methods which presents any distinction of a right and a wrong way.
your example here is unrelated. the addition of "the" before "only one" changes the meaning significantly.

also, this example is a nonsense sentence; "tenacity" has nothing to do with distinguishing right from wrong.
the problem is that i can't tell what this sentence is supposed to mean (because none of the possible meanings makes logical sense), so it's impossible to judge whether the sentence is doing what you think it's doing.

here are two examples.

Jake is (only) one of our players who have spent over 10 years in the league.
--> we have some players who've been in the league for that long; one of them is jake.

Jake is the only one of our players who has spent over 10 years in the league.
--> no one else on our team has played for that long.

again, there is absolutely no reason to try to remember a "formula" for this stuff. as long as your understand what "the" means, the function of these sentences is very easy to figure out.
just remember what "the" means in this sort of context: it means, basically, "that's all; there are no more".
e.g.,
Jim and Ray were two witnesses to the crime --> there were other witnesses
Jim and Ray were the two witnesses to the crime --> there were no other witnesses
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by lunarpower » Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:16 pm
3) "Y is one of the only X" means there are only few X available, and Y is one of them.
Eg: Mr. Joseph is one of the only Harvard graduate in the town.
... well, meaning-wise, you can't really write this without some sort of qualifier/modifier on the "x" part. otherwise, the "only" is at best unnecessary, and at worst nonsense. (e.g., the sentence above makes a lot more sense if you take away "only".)
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by shailendra.sharma » Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:29 pm
Thanks Ron.

I understand there is a fine difference between trying to register usage of different common phrases in mind and formulaic approach - I am falling for later again and again.

I seem to get it now, until I again fall in the same trap :)

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by lunarpower » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:08 pm
shailendra.sharma wrote:Thanks Ron.

I understand there is a fine difference between trying to register usage of different common phrases in mind and formulaic approach - I am falling for later again and again.

I seem to get it now, until I again fall in the same trap :)
i'd suggest that the problem starts with your thinking of these things as "phrases" in the first place.
your calling them "phrases" suggests that you're thinking of things as units, when they aren't actually units. (by "unit" i mean a piece that has one definite function within the sentence.)

i mean, if you don't already know how the sentence works intuitively, then obviously you have to break it down into some kind of units. the key, though, is that you have to break it down into the things that are actually units.
and, don't forget -- this is the thing that's missing from your analysis in a lot of these cases -- you can't tell which parts of a sentence are functional units until you understand its meaning.

e.g., take the sentences i gave you above.

if the intention is to say that our team has exactly one player with more than 10 years of experience in the league, then ...
Jake is the only one of our players who has spent over 10 years in the league.
the orange and blue things can be thought of as "functional units" here. i.e., the whole blue thing is describing the whole orange thing. but you can't figure that out until you understand what the sentence is actually supposed to say.

on the other hand, if the intention is to say that Jake is one of a whole bunch of players with that level of experience, then ...
Jake is only one of our players who has spent over 10 years in the league.
here, the blue thing is a group of people. the orange thing describes something in that group. but, again, you can't figure that out until you understand what the sentence is supposed to mean.
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