Verb-ing Modifiers in GMAT – Part 2

In our first article of verb-ing modifiers, we discussed function of this modifier when used with a comma. In this article we will explain the function of the verb-ing modifier when the modifier is placed after the clause and is NOT preceded by a comma.  To refresh your memory, in a sentence there are three general places where this modifier appears.  In each placement, the modifier plays a specific role. These places are:

  1. Placed after a clause PRECEDED by a comma (explained in the first article)
  2. Placed after a clause NOT PRECEDED by a comma (explained in this article)
  3. In the beginning of a clause followed by a comma (Please view the Verb-ing concept in the e-GMAT free trial)

Verb-ing Modifiers Rule Set #2

The placement of the verb-ing modifier after a clause without a comma brings us to the second rule set for this modifier.

Let’s understand the application of this rule set through simple examples first.

If the verb-ing modifier appears after a clause and without a comma, then it modifies the preceding noun or noun phrase.

Examples for explanation of the rule:

Mary made a beautiful bouquet releasing divine aroma.

In this sentence “releasing…” is a verb-ing modifier that is not preceded by a comma. In this construction, “releasing…” modifies the preceding noun “bouquet”. The sentence means that Mary made a beautiful bouquet and that bouquet releases a divine aroma.   So the modifier describes the noun – bouquet.

Understanding Intended meaning is the key: As you would have noticed, the key to deciding whether to use a verb-ing modifier, and if to use one, whether to use one with a comma depends on the intended meaning of the sentence.  If the logical intended meaning is such that the verb-ing modifier should modify the preceding noun or noun phrase, then we should use the verb-ing modifier without a comma.   On the other hand, use the verb-ing modifier with the comma if the author’s intention is to express additional information about the preceding clause or the result of the preceding clause.   Either way, to make this distinction it’s important to understand the logical intended meaning.

 

Last week local shrimpers held a news conference to take some credit for the resurgence of the rare Kemp’s ridley turtle, saying that their compliance with laws requiring turtle-excluder devices on shrimp nets is protecting adult sea turtles.

To decide whether the usage of verb-ing modifier make sense, let’s understand the author’s Intended Meaning.

Intended meaning:

To understand the intended meaning, we will split the sentence into clauses to understand its structure.

  • Last week local shrimpers held a news conference to take some credit for the resurgence of the rare Kemp’s ridley turtle, saying
  • that their compliance with laws requiring turtle-excluder devices on shrimp nets is protecting adult sea turtles.

This sentence says that last week local shrimpers called for a news conference. They did so to take come credit for the resurgence of the rare Kemp’s ridley turtle. They informed in the conference that they comply with laws that require turtle-excluder devices on shrimp nets. This action is protecting adult sea turtles.

The verb-ing modifier “requiring” is not preceded by a comma and hence correctly modifies the preceding noun “laws”. The meaning is clear – these laws require the shrimpers to use turtleexcluder devices on shrimp nets.  Therefore, the sentence is correct as it is.

An instance where Verb-ing is not correct

We will now take an example in which Verb-ing is not correct. This example is from the exercise of the previous article.

In three months, biologist Glauco Machado gathered enough information about large numbers of a relatively unstudied order of arachnids to persuade an ant specialist at the university to advise him, and to publish his first scientific paper.

  1. arachnids to persuade an ant specialist at the university to advise him and to publish
  2. arachnids, persuading an ant specialist at the university to advise him and publishing
  3. arachnids persuading an ant specialist at the university to advise him and publishing

Let’s use the tools to determine whether verb-ing modifier makes sense.

STEP 1: (Intended) MEANING ANALYSIS

The sentence says that in three months Machado gathered enough information about a huge number of comparatively unstudied order of arachnids. He gathered all information with two purposes in mind:

  1. he wanted to persuade an ant specialist at the university to advise him
  2. he wanted to publish his first scientific paper

STEP 2: ERROR ANALYSIS

In three months, biologist Glauco Machado had enough information about large numbers of a relatively unstudied order of arachnids to persuade an ant specialist at the university to advise him, and to publish his first scientific paper.

This sentence has just one subject-verb pair, meaning it has only one clause. The SV pair is accounted for. The purposes of gathering all the information have been correctly written in “to verb” form. These two purposes are also correctly joined with “and”. Hence, there is no error in this sentence. The sentence is correct as is.

STEP 3: POE

Let us now do the POE to see what makes the other two choices incorrect.

  1. arachnids to persuade an ant specialist at the university to advise him, and to publish: Correct as we discussed during error analysis.
  2. arachnids, persuading an ant specialist at the university to advise him and publishing: Incorrect. Here both the verb-ing modifiers are preceded by comma, implying that they modify the entire preceding clause. Hence, now the sentence means that Machado gathered all the information and this action resulted into two things:
    1. he persuaded the ant specialist, and
    2. he published his first scientific papers.This is certainly not the intended meaning of the original sentence. The original sentence talks about purpose. Per this choice, Machado’s gathering information actually led to the persuasion of the ant specialist and the publication of the first scientific paper. Hence, this choice is grammatically correct but certainly alters the intended meaning and is thus incorrect.
  3. arachnids persuading an ant specialist at the university to advise him and publishing:

Incorrect. In this choice, the verb-ing modifiers appear without comma. Here, both “persuading” and “publishing” modify the preceding noun “arachnids”.  Now, per this choice, the sentence means that Machado collected information on certain arachnids and these arachnids did the jobs of persuading the ant specialist and publishing first scientific paper. This is absolutely illogicalThis is a case where verb-ing modifier without a comma does not make sense.

Comments are closed.