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Source: Official Guide for GMAT Review 2016 Sentence Correction; #4


While Noble Sissle may be best known for

While Noble Sissle may be best known for his collaboration with Eubie Blake, as both a vaudeville performer and as a lyricist for songs and Broadway musicals, also enjoying an independent career as a singer with such groups as Hahn’s Jubilee Singers.

1 Explanation


David Recine

As you look at the full question in the OG (or on the GMAT Club Forums here: ), I'll give you the explanation.


The correct answer is C. Let's look at how we arrive at that answer.

The reason the original wording doesn't work is that the opening part of the sentence before the comma is a dependent clause. "While Noble Sissle...." begins with the time adverb "while." This makes the entire clause is an adverbial phrase that describes something about Noble Sissle.

At the end of this opening "while" phrase, the independent clause hasn't come yet. So whatever comes after the second comma will need to be an independent clause, complete with a subject. The problem with the original wording is that after the initial dependent clause, there is no subject. Instead, the original sentence goes straight to the verb phrase "also enjoying."

Answer (A) of course simply reproduces the original incorrect wording. Answer (B) makes the same mistake. Answer (B) is also problematic because it creates a break in parallel structure. The original phrases "as... a vaudeville performer" and "as a lyricist" are parallel. Change "as a lyricist" to "writing lyrics," and the parallelism is gone.

This leaves us with answers (C), (D), and (E). All three of these answers correctly place a subject-- "he" --- to the second clause in the sentence. Right away, answer (C) seems promising. This answer does get rid of "as," before "a lyricist," which was used for parallel structure in the original sentence. However, this does not truly break the parallel structure. In parallel structure, you don't need to repeat every part of the structure for each item that's being described or listed. The "as" in "as both a vaudeville performer and a lyricist" clearly applies to both the nouns "performer" and "lyricist;" so does the adjective "vaudeville."

So (C) seems like it could be the answer. But remember that on the GMAT, your job is to select the *best* answer. Is (C) really the *best* answer?

Let's look at (D). Answer (D) also breaks parallel structure by replacing "and" with "as well as," which does not match the "as a" construction introduced earlier in the sentence. So (D) is out.

(E) has also added extra wording to the opening phrasing seen in (C)... just like (D) did. So right there (E) looks like it could also be not-the-best. But let's double check to make sure. (E) also breaks parallel structure by using "as well as," and getting rid of the "as a" construction. Superficially, it looks like the "as a" construction is still there, but it's not. "As well as" means "and," so the second "as" in "as well as" can't be part of a different construction such as "as a.". The "as" is attached to "as well," and not "a." '

(E) has another problem too-- after the comma, (E) uses past perfect tense. The first clause in the sentence (the "while" clause) uses simple past tense. There should not be a shift in verb tense between one clause and another unless there is a clear reason for the shift. There's no apparent reason to switch from simple past to past perfect, so (E) is a doubly wrong choice.

There's also a much simpler way that you can guess (D) and (E) are wrong. The GMAT emphasizes simple, straight-and-to-the-point writing. Unnecessary wordiness is frowned upon in GMAT Verbal. (D) and (E) are similar to (C), but are noticeably longer. This in and of itself is a strong indication that they probably aren't the best answer choices compared to (C).

Sep 23, 2016 • Comment

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