Normally a bone becomes fossilized through the action

Question

Normally a bone becomes fossilized through the action of groundwater, which permeates the bone, washes away its organic components, and replaces them with minerals.

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

  • Normally a bone becomes fossilized (Main Subject: A bone; Main Verb: becomes)
    • through the action of groundwater, (Prepositional phrase modifying the main verb)
      • which permeates the bone, washes away its organic components, and replaces them with minerals. (Dependent clause modifying ‘groundwater’ – Subject: which; Verb: permeates, washes, and replaces)

The sentence says that generally, a bone becomes fossilized through the action of groundwater. The groundwater does three things: permeates the bone, washes away its organic components, and replaces the organic components with minerals.

The sentence is correct as is.

Option Analysis

(A) Correct.

(B) Incorrect. This option has a deterministic parallelism error. The three elements in the list are:

  1. which permeates the bone
  2. which washes away its organic components
  3. which those are replaced with minerals

Since the third element is incorrect grammatically and logically (doesn’t make sense), the list is incorrect.

(C) Incorrect. The main error with this option is ‘to be replaced’. ‘to be replaced’ denotes the purpose of the verb ‘permeates’, leading to the meaning that groundwater permeates the bone with a purpose to be replaced with minerals.

‘washing away…components’ can be treated as a ‘comma+verb-ing’ modifier for the clause ‘which permeates’. ‘washing away its organic components’ could be a direct consequence of ‘permeating’, so this construction is not incorrect.

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. ‘to be replaced’ denotes the purpose of the verb ‘becomes’, leading to the meaning that the bone become fossilized with a purpose to be replaced with minerals.
  2. Logically, ‘permeating’ and ‘washing’ make sense with ‘groundwater’. However, in a ‘comma+verb-ing’ structure, the verb-ing doesn’t go with anything other than the subject.

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. 2nd error of option D
  2. A comma is missing before ‘and’. Since the list contains three elements, we need to have a comma before ‘and’.

If you have any doubts regarding any part of this solution, please feel free to ask in the comments section.

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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