Among the Tsonga, a Bantu-speaking group of tribes

Question

Among the Tsonga, a Bantu-speaking group of tribes in southeastern Africa, dance teams represent their own chief at the court of each other, providing entertainment in return for food, drink, and lodging.

Option A
Option B
Option C
Option D
Option E

(This question is from Official Guide. Therefore, because of copyrights, the complete question cannot be copied here. The question can be accessed at GMAT Club)

Solution

Sentence Analysis

Here’s the sentence structure:

  • Among the Tsonga, (Prepositional phrase modifying the main clause)
    • a Bantu-speaking group of tribes (A noun phrase modifying ‘Tsonga’. Technically, this modifier is called an appositive)
      • in southeastern Africa, (prepositional phrase modifying ‘tribes’)
    • dance teams represent their own chief (Main subject: ‘teams’; Main verb: ‘represent’)
      • at the court of each other, (Prepositional phrase modifying the main verb)
      • providing entertainment in return for food, drink, and lodging. (Verb-ing modifier modifying the main clause)

The sentence means that among a group of tribes, dance teams represent their chief at the court of another chief. If the sentence had intended to say ‘courts of other dance teams’, the sentence would have said “their own chiefs (plural)” and not “their own chief (singular)”. In such a case, the sentence would have been ‘dance teams represent their own chiefs at the courts of each other’.

The presence of singular ‘chief’ indicates that all the dance teams mentioned in the sentence have the same chief, and we are not talking about different chiefs of different dance teams. Thus, because of the presence of singular ‘chief’, we cannot have ‘the courts of each other’ in place of the underlined part.

The sentence also says that the dance teams provide entertainment in return for food, drink, and lodging.

The sentence has two errors:

  1. The use of ‘each other’ is incorrect as explained above.
  2. The use of verb-ing ‘providing’ is incorrect since when ‘comma+verb-ing’ succeeds a clause, it provides either a result of the clause or how the action in the clause is performed. In this case, ‘providing entertainment…” doesn’t provide any such info. Rather, ‘providing entertainment…” provides information that is unrelated to the main clause.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the reasons mentioned above.

(B) Correct.  This option corrects both the errors of the original sentence without introducing any new error.

(C) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. ‘the other’ is incorrect since the presence ‘the’ indicates that we are talking about a specific other ‘chief’. However, the sentence is clearly not talking about a specific other chief; it’s talking about ‘some other chief’.
  2. ‘so as to’ is incorrect since ‘so as to’ means ‘with this purpose’. However, ‘providing entertainment’ cannot be the purpose of ‘representing their own chief’. The two actions seem very unrelated.
  3. ‘return on’ is idiomatically incorrect here since ‘return on’ is used in a way ‘return on investment/money/assets’ i.e. when we are talking about the profit we get from something. In this sentence, we want to use it in a way ‘in exchange of’, so we need to use ‘in return for’.

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. ‘each other’ is incorrect as explained in the original sentence analysis.
  2. The use of ‘Noun + Noun modifier’ – entertainment being provided… – is incorrect since ‘providing entertainment’ is not an additional information of the main clause; it’s a separate information about the ‘dance teams’. Besides, ‘being provided’ indicates that the entertainment is being currently provided. Clearly, such meaning doesn’t make sense in the context of the sentence.

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Same error as 3rd error in option C.
  2. ‘the court of another’ in option B is qualitatively better than ‘another’s court’. It’s a preference issue and not an error.

About Chiranjeev Singh

An Alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad and with scores of 780 (2017) and 770 (2013) on GMAT and 99.98%ile on CAT, Chiranjeev is one of the most qualified GMAT tutors in India. Chiranjeev has earlier served as Director of Curriculum at e-GMAT. Chiranjeev has been helping students ace GMAT since 2012. He follows a concept-based methodology to teaching GMAT and is very committed to student success. You may contact him for any private GMAT tutoring needs at CJ@GMATwithCJ.com. He conducts online sessions for students across the world.

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