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Source: Official Guide for GMAT Review 2016 Sentence Correction; #126


Found only in the Western Hemisphere and surviving

Found only in the Western Hemisphere and surviving through extremes of climate, hummingbirds’ range extends from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, from sea-level rain forests to the edges of Andean snowfields and ice fields at altitudes of 15,000 feet.

2 Explanations


Anupam Chatterjee


Could you please explain this question into more detail? From the OA ,I am not 100% sure why B is the correct answer.

I was able to recognize that the subject should be Hummingbirds and not hummingbird's. But, I am not understanding the construction in option (B) -
Found only in western ....., Humming birds survive through extreme of climates, their range extending..

My question is the use of "their" after the comma sound a bit awkward. Didn't we need a conjunction? Could you please explain what is this "absolute phrase" as explained in the OA. When should we use it?


May 22, 2018 • Comment

Sam Kinsman

Hi Anupam,

Yes, the phrase that starts with "their range..." is an absolute phrase. Let me explain how these work!

Absolute phrases are a kind of modifier. Modifiers usually modify a noun, or a verb - but absolute modifiers modify the entire independent clause that comes before them. So there, the absolute phrase is modifying the independent clause "hummingbirds survive through extremes of climate".

Absolute phrases have the form [noun] + [noun modifier]. In this case, the form is the form is [noun] + [participial phrase]. (Keep in mind that a participial phrase has an "-ing" verb in it). So when you see a modifier that uses an "-ing" verb, chances are that it is an absolute phrase.

I'd suggest that you take a look at this blog post on absolute phrases ( I think you'll find it helpful! :)

May 30, 2018 • Reply


Yayu Xu

For wrong choice A, is it right to use"found...and surviving through..." ?
I just think it is not parallel.
And i can not decide the subject is "hummingbirds " or " hummingbirds' range"
Thank you!

Feb 17, 2017 • Comment


Hi there,

So, both "found" and "surviving" are serving as adjectival modifiers here, not verbs, so I wouldn't worry too much about whether these are parallel.

Second, the subject in the correct choice (B) is "hummingbirds," but in (A) it is "hummingbirds' range," which is part of the problem in (A) — it says that "hummingbirds' range" is found only in the Western hemisphere and survives through extremes of climate, which is illogical.

Feb 17, 2017 • Reply

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