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Sound can travel through water for enormous distances …GMATPrep & OG Verbal II#108

Sound can travel through water for enormous distances, prevented from dissipating its acoustic energy as a result of boundaries in the ocean created by water layers of different temperatures and densities.

A) prevented from dissipating its acoustic energy as a result of
B) prevented from having its acoustic energy dissipated by
C) its acoustic energy prevented from dissipating by
D) its acoustic energy prevented from being dissipated as a result of
E) preventing its acoustic energy from dissipating by

What does this question test?

This question tests your skill in inferring the intended meaning from a sentence written in an incorrect manner.  It also tests your understanding of advanced modifiers – modifiers that modify the preceding clause.  Two such modifiers are used in two different answer choices and only one of the modifiers is correct.

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What does the sentence mean?

This sentence does not communicate the meaning effectively.  Thus clearly, this sentence has meaning error.  However, the implied meaning of this sentence is as follows:

  1. Sound can travel through water for long distances.
  2. The acoustic energy of sound is prevented from dissipating because of the boundaries in the ocean.  These boundaries are created by water layers of different temperatures and densities.

Now it is logical to say that because of 2, 1 happens.  That is because the acoustic energy of sound is not dissipated easily, sound can travel through water for long distances.  At this point you can picture in your mind that these two facts can be connected in multiple ways:

  • Use connectors that state reason such as because, since.
  • Use modifier that extends the thought of preceding clause.

What are the errors in the original sentence?

  • Clause 1:  Sound can travel through water for enormous distances, prevented from dissipating its acoustic energy as a result of boundaries in the ocean created by water layers of different temperatures and densities.

This sentence has only 1 clause as shown.  “created by water layers…” is verb-ed modifier that modifies the preceding noun phrase – boundaries in the ocean.  As discussed in meaning analysis, the role of “prevented from dissipating…” is not very apparent.   Thus, this sentence has meaning error.

Answer Choice Analysis

Choice BMeaning Error:  In addition to the meaning error in choice A, this choice further distorts the meaning of the sentence. This choice implies that the dissipation of acoustic energy will take place by the boundaries in the ocean.

Choice C No Errors. In this choice the incorrect part of sentence “prevented from…” has been converted into a modifier of the structure noun phrase + noun modifier.  Here the noun phrase is “its acoustic energy”.  This modifier modifies the preceding clause, providing additional information about the action in the preceding clause.  Essentially this modifier answers the question – Why can sound travel through water for enormous distances.

Choice DWordy and Awkward:  This choice is excessively wordy.  Furthermore the use of words “from being dissipated as a result of” communicates the distorted meaning as Choice B does.

Choice EModifier Error:  This choice is grammatically correct but it distorts the meaning of the sentence.  In this choice, the modifier is verb-ing modifier.  Now verb-ing modifiers modify preceding clause and they connect with the subject of the preceding clause.  Thus, this choice now communicates this meaning: Sound can travel through water for long distances by preventing its acoustic energy from dissipating…Thus, it implies that sound prevents its acoustic energy from dissipating.  This is clearly not the intended meaning.

Thus, choice C is the correct answer.

What are the key takeaway messages?

  1. If the original sentence does not communicate logical meaning, then try to infer the meaning that should be communicated and select the answer choice that does so.
  2. Understand the manner in which verb-ing modifiers modify preceding clause and how certain “noun phrase + noun modifier” modify preceding clause.

Where can you find more information?

Register at e-gmat to access the Sentence Correction free trial.

If you feel, you lag behind in the planning part of your preparation, we invite you for a free webinar on GMAT Strategy. Learn the best way to prepare for GMAT by taking a free trial of our online GMAT preparation resource. You can write to us at acethegmat@e-gmat.com if you need any GMAT related advice.

 

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4 thoughts on “Sound can travel through water for enormous distances …GMATPrep & OG Verbal II#108”

  1. What is “prevented from…” modifier in A and B modify? Sound or Water? Your articles mention that verb-ed modifiers cannot jump verbs – therefore, they modify the closest nouns. Also, nouns in prepositional phrases cannot be the main noun (that is being modified), therefore, “Water” is modified by “prevented..” modifier. Is that right?

  2. Hi Payal,

    Isn’t ‘Sound can travel through water for enormous distances’ an independent clause in itself

    Regards,
    Vishal

  3. Hi Payal,
    ‘its acoustic energy prevented from dissipating by’
    Can you spot noun phrase and noun modifier inthe sentence above?

    Its acoustic energy prevented from getting dissipated by
    Ans choice C and my sentence convey the same meaning?
    If so, my sentence makes much better sense I feel 🙂

    1. The noun phrase in this modifier is “its acoustic energy”. The noun phrase modifier is “prevented from dissipating by”.

      Yes your sentence and Ans C communicate same meaning…:)

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