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In this article, we’ll look at the solution to this GMAT sentence correction question – Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.

General information on this question

• Difficulty level – hard
• 55% of people got this question correct
• The average time taken to answer this question is 1:41.

Let’s look at the question-and-answer choices.

## Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.

(A) Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is

(B) Marconi conceived of the radio as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, but which is

(C) Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone; instead, it has become

(D) Marconi conceived of the radio to be a tool for private conversation, a substitute for the telephone, which has become

(E) Marconi conceived of the radio to be a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, other than what it is,

## Video and text solution

### Meaning Analysis

• Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone,
• a tool for private conversation;
• instead, it is precisely the opposite,
• a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.

The sentence talks about how Marconi conceived of the radio as a substitute for the tool. He saw the radio as a tool for private communication, but the radio has become the opposite.  The radio has become a tool of mass communication.

### Error Analysis

The noun modifier “a tool for private communication” should be referring to the radio. As discussed in the meaning analysis, it is the radio that Marconi saw as a tool for private communication.  However, the modifier’s placement in the sentence makes it, so the modifier – Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool of private communication is describing the telephone.  This modification leads to a modifier and meaning error.

Also, using the simple present tense verb “is” expresses a universal fact and a general piece of information.  However, the meaning requires a verb that expresses what develops over time. The use of a verb conveying what Marconi conceptualized about the radio and what the radio has become today. The use of the present perfect tense is preferred here to express this action developing over time.

Choice A:  Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is

Incorrect: These errors are discussed in the error analysis.

Choice B: Marconi conceived of the radio as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, but which is

Incorrect: The use of “which” is ambiguous

It is unclear what it is referring to “a tool for communication” or “the telephone,” neither of these provides the proper manning. In addition, “which” is preceded by “but” and a comma + but indicates two independent clauses are being joined, which is not the case, so we also have a structure error here. Again, this choice repeats the verb tense error of choice A by using the present tense verb “is.”

Choice C: Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone; instead, it has become

Correct: The use of the noun modifier “that” can refer to “radio, “a slightly far away noun.

This usage is grammatically acceptable because the preceding prepositional phrase is also modifying the same entity.  It is important to note that “a tool” refers to the “radio,” these entities are the same; the radio is the tool, so modifying one is modifying the other.

For further information on how noun modifiers can modify slightly faraway nouns, follow this link.

Choice D: Marconi conceived of the radio to be a tool for private conversation, a substitute for the telephone, which has become

Incorrect: The use of “conceived to be” is not idiomatic.

The use of “as” is preferred.   The noun modifier “which” is illogically referring to the telephone, indicating that the telephone has become a tool of mass communication, and we know that is not the intended meaning.

Choice E: Marconi conceived of the radio to be a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, other than what it is,

Incorrect: This option repeats the idiom error in choice D

This option repeats the idiom error in choice D, conceived to be is unidiomatic; the use of “as” is preferred here. The use of “other than what it is” is redundant with the expression “precisely the opposite” the meaning of these two expressions expresses the same meaning.  This option uses the simple present tense “is,” which repeats the verb tense error in the original sentence.