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Intro to Sentence Correction


This video is about the sentence correction question on the GMAT. Before we even begin to introduce the sentence correction question, let's just review the structure of the verbal section in general. The GMAT verbal section has three question types; sentence correction, reading comprehension, and critical reasoning. So this first bank of lessons in the in the is about the sentence correction questions.

But each one of these questions will be approximately a third of the section, so that's about 13 or 14 of each type of question. Of course, you have 41 questions overall on the verbal section, 41 questions to do in 75 minutes. So let's talk now what is Sentence Correction? Well, the basic idea is that you get a complete sentence, just one sentence, and either part of that sentence will be underlined, sometimes in the harder questions, the entire sentence is underlined.

The answer choices are gonna be variants of this underlined section. The first will always be the exact text of the underlined section and then four variations. Your basic job is of those five versions, the original and the four variants, pick the one that makes the best sentence. Now, what does this mean, the best sentence?

This is actually an idea that we're going to have to explore in some more depth, but let's put that on hold this section. Let's just look at a very simple problem, so this would be like a fourth grade level problem. This much easier than what you'd see on the actual GMAT. What we have is the sentence, the owners of the building are took a walk of their dog.

That sentence, of course, makes no sense and has several problems. We have an underlined section. Notice that choice A here is identical to the underlined section. That will always be the case. And then we have some variance. Well lets notice a few things, first of all, are took.

That is not even resembling a correct verb form, that is not a verb form that exists in English at all, so that is just wrong. Are taking, that sounds like a proper verb form. Is taking, that's also proper verb form. So we'll let those go at the moment, those are at least recognizable verb forms. We have these prepositions now in principle.

Prepositions, of their dog, with their dog, for their dog, those are all correct prepositional phrases. But here we need to think about the meaning a bit. These people are out and what are they doing? They're taking a walk. And are they taking a walk of their dog?

That makes no sense. Are they taking a walk with their dog? Well that's plausible. Are they taking a walk for their dog? Well that sounds particularly bizarre. In other words are they taking a walk for their dog would almost like be as if the dog were sitting home and the people were walking around, somehow working with a purpose that served the dog.

That doesn't really make any sense. That's not logical. So with is really the best choice here. So on the basis of logic, we've narrowed things down to two choices. Now we look at this, are taking a walk with and is taking a walk with. Both of those are by themselves grammatically correct, but now we have to consider, what is the subject of the sentence?

The difference between them, after all, is a singular verb and a plural verb. Well, the subject is owners. That's a plural subject and so we need the verb to agree with the subject. So we need the plural verb. The singular verb is wrong. And therefore we're able to choose answer choice C.

Now, again this was a remarkably easy question. I'd expect a grade school student to be able to handle it. But there are a few basic principles that we use. First of all, notice that I didn't read answer choice A and then read across each other answer choice. Rather I scanned down the list looking for differences.

This is a strategy that we will talk about more in depth in another lesson. Notice also in addition to paying attention to grammar, I had to look at the meaning of the sentence. What do the words actually mean? People get very fixated on grammar as if the only thing that the sentence correction tests is grammar.

That's not true. Meaning is as important as grammar. So having had this overview, first of all let's talk about a couple general points. Of course, never read answer choice A. If you read the sentence, you absolutely know that answer choice A is going to repeat what is underlined in the sentence.

So if you read the sentence as it's printed in the prompt, you have answer choice A covered already. Second of all, just as a general point, you should strive for 60 to 90 seconds per sentence correction question. In general, people find these questions a little bit easier than the critical reasoning and the reading comprehension questions.

So if you can get to the point that you're fast on these questions, then it will help you by giving you more time on the other verbal questions. Let's take a look at the printed rules. The general rules for the sentence correction section. Now you can find these in the official guide. They are also printed here.

So notice in particular that the official guide that actually tells you, the first of these, in other words answer choice A, repeats the original, the other four are different. Therefore you don't need to read answer choice A it's always going to be identical to the original. The second part of the directions is actually very interesting.

Telling us what this question tests. The sentence correction question tests the correctness and effectiveness of expression. In choosing your answers, follow the requirements of standard written English; that is, pay attention to grammar, choice of words, and sentence construction. Choose the answer that produces the most effective sentence; this answer should be clear and exact, without awkwardness, ambiguity, redundancy, or grammatical error.

Golly, that's a very tall order. Let's try and organize that a little bit. A good sentence on the GMAT sentence correction, so this has just a very broad view right now. A good sentence, first of all, would be grammatically correct and again, people fixate on this, they think that it's only about the grammar.

It's not only about the grammar. Another very important criteria is that there's no logical errors. In other words, this sentence says what it means and means what it says. That's very important for a correct sentence. The idioms and dictions have to be correct. Now, of course, we have a whole bank of videos explaining these.

It has to be rhetorically sound, we have another whole section of videos. So, in the sentence correction module we'll be going through all of these one at a time. I have no expectation that right now, just reading this list, you would be an expert at sentence correction. This is just giving you an overall lay of the land.

Now that we've covered these basics, we can start talking about strategies.

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