Gusty westerly winds will continue to usher in a seasonably cool

Question

Gusty westerly winds will continue to usher in a seasonably cool air mass into the region, as a broad area of high pressure will build and bring fair and dry weather for several days.

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:

  • Gusty westerly winds will continue to usher in a seasonably cool air mass into the region, (Main Subject: winds, Main Verb: will continue to usher in)
  • as a broad area of high pressure will build and bring fair and dry weather for several days. (Subject: area, Verb: will build and bring)

The sentence says that the westerly winds will continue to direct a cool air mass into the region, and simultaneously, a high-pressure area will build and will bring fair and dry weather.

The sentence has the following problems:

  1. ‘usher in’ means cause the start of something, and ‘usher’ means guide or direct something. Logically, we can see that the required verb in the sentence is ‘usher’ and not ‘usher in’. Besides, when we use ‘usher in’ – meaning causing the start of something – we can notice that ‘into the region’ doesn’t fit into the sentence. With ‘usher in’, the clause needs to end at ‘cool air mass’ to make sense.
  2. The tense ‘will build and bring’ is incorrect since when we are presenting two events in the future, we use simple present tense (and not simple future tense) in the ‘as’ clause and simple future tense in the main clause.
  3. The expression ‘a broad area of high pressure will build and bring fair and dry weather for several days’ could mean two different things:
    1. A broad area of high pressure will build, and a broad area of high pressure will bring fair and dry weather for several days (sensible meaning)
    2. A broad area of high pressure will build fair and dry weather for several days, and a broad area of high pressure will bring fair and dry weather for several days (non-sensical meaning)

Writing this part of the sentence in a way that the above confusion is avoided would be preferable.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the reasons explained above.

(B) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. ‘continue ushering’ is not a preferred way of writing. Generally, ‘continue’ is followed by a ‘to+verb’ rather than a verb-ing.
  2. ‘ushering in’ is wrong in this context, as explained in point 1 in the sentence analysis.
  3. ‘and’ is followed by an independent clause. We need ‘comma+and’ to connect two independent clauses. The absence of comma before ‘and’ introduces a deterministic error.
  4. SV Disagreement – ‘that’ refers to singular ‘a broad area’ but is followed by a plural verb ‘bring’.
  5. The sequence of verb tenses – simple future (will build) followed by simple present (bring) – distorts the meaning. It should be either ‘a broad area of high pressure will build that will bring’ or ‘a broad area of high pressure that brings … will build’.

(C) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. ‘usher in’ is wrong in this context, as explained in point 1 in the sentence analysis.
  2. The use of the preposition ‘into’ makes much more sense than the use of the preposition ‘to’ before ‘the region’.
  3. ‘a broad area of high pressure building’ is a Noun+Noun modifier. The Noun in this modifier needs to refer to something in the clause before it. However, ‘a broad area of high pressure’ doesn’t refer to any noun in the clause before it.
  4. With this option, ‘bring’ in the non-underlined part becomes parallel to ‘usher’. Thus, the sentence now means that the gusty westerly winds will continue to bring fair and dry weather for several days. This meaning is different from the meaning in the original sentence. However, since the current meaning is also sensible, we cannot reject the option for this reason, even though we can continue to have preference for the meaning in the original sentence.

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Same problem as 1st point of option B.
  2. The use of the preposition ‘into’ makes more sense than the use of the preposition ‘in’ before ‘the region’.
  3. Parallelism – ‘building’ and ‘bring’ are not parallel. This is a deterministic error. Please note that ‘bring’ cannot be parallel to ‘continue’ since a comma appears before ‘with’ but not after ‘with’. For ‘bring’ to be parallel to ‘continue’, the ‘with’ prepositional phrase should be enclosed within two commas.

(E) Correct. This option corrects all the errors in the original sentence without introducing any new error. ‘which’ here refers to ‘a broad area of high pressure’. Since the modifier ‘which will bring fair and dry weather for several days’ is long and the predicate ‘builds’ is short, we can write the modifier of the subject after the predicate. Besides, the sequence of the events also dictates that the modifier appears after the verb since first a broad area of high pressure will build and then the area will bring fair and dry weather.

Please note that this question is PRECEDENT-SETTING in that in no official question before, ‘which’ has jumped over a ‘verb’. However, I don’t think this example should be used to say that ‘which’ can always jump over verbs. The special thing that made it possible for ‘which’ to jump over the verb was that the predicate consisted only of the verb. Thus, while ‘which’ jumped over the verb, there was no confusion as to what ‘which’ referred to.

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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