How much of an exception is an exception – GMAT SC ?

How much of an exception is an exception – GMAT SC ?

Let us consider an official GMAT Sentence Correction question:

Naked mole rats form colonies of approximately 20 animals, each of which consists of a single reproductive female and workers that defend her

A. each of which consists
B. with each of them consisting
C. each colony consisting
D. and each of them consist
E. and each colony consisting

This question tests one of the most important concept that is tested on the GMAT Sentence correction section  – Essential vs Non-essential modifier.

So how we go about solving this question – lets see !!

“Which” is a relative pronoun and it refers to the nearest noun. So “which” has to modify the nearest noun.If you are not familiar with the terminology used here then this could help.

For example:

1) I saw an advertisement of a car, which has latest brakes.

In this case, which is referring to the car and it makes sense as the car has the latest brakes.

Now, let us add some modifiers and see how GMAT can confuse us.

2) I saw an advertisement of a car produced by a big corporation, which has the latest brakes.

So here what “which” refers to? It should be referring to paper. But in this case, we need to understand the exception rule -> called an essential modifier.

What is an essential Modifier?

Essential Modifier is a modifier that satisfies three key criterion:

1. The modifier modifies the noun that is also modified by “which” or any relative pronoun.

Example: I saw an advertisement of a car (produced by a big corporation), (which) has the latest brakes.

In this example, “produced by a big corporation” and “which” logically refer to the same noun -> car

2.The modifier cannot be placed anywhere else.

Example: If I place the modifier “produced by a big corporation” right next to brakes such as below:

I saw an advertisement of a car, (which) has the latest brakes (produced by a big corporation)

The meaning totally changes. Hence the modifier cannot be placed anywhere else.

3. The reference should be unambiguous.

Example: I saw an advertisement of a car (in a paper), (which) is red in color

Here, the paper can be red in color and car can also be red in color.

When all the three conditions are satisfied, the usage of essential modifier is correct and “which” can modify the noun placed far away from the relative pronoun.

OK, I get it. But what to do, when I see both the options in the question? For example in the original question:

Naked mole rats form colonies of approximately 20 animals, each of which consists of a single reproductive female and workers that defend her

A. each of which consists
B. with each of them consisting
C. each colony consisting
D. and each of them consist
E. and each colony consisting

For this article, we will focus on option A and C.

In option A, which refers to colonies on the basis of the essential modifier exception.

And option C) is quite clear as it says “each colony”.

So, always pick up the option, where you don’t have to use any exception. If option C) had not been there, we could have picked up option A) as that is the best option among all the other options.

You can read more about how to solve Sentence Correction questions here

Please do let us know if you have any further query. Such concepts are frequently tested on the GMAT SC section when one goes above the 700+ level and in order to get a 740+ score it is very important to understand this concept.

Dont worry – our Advanced class is just for this and it is here that we discuss how to solve 750+ level questions and the underlying concepts !!!

For any kind of help on the GMAT contact us at bondwithus@gmatify.com .

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