Over the past ten years cultivated sunflowers have become a major commercial crop

Question

Over the past ten years cultivated sunflowers have become a major commercial crop, second only to soybeans as a source of vegetable oil.

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

  • Over the past ten years (Prepositional phrase modifying the main verb)
  • cultivated sunflowers have become a major commercial crop, (Main Subject: Sunflowers; Main Verb: have become)
    • second only to soybeans as a source of vegetable oil. (Modifier modifying ‘cultivated sunflowers’)

The sentence says that over the last 10 years, cultivated sunflowers have become a major commercial crop, and are now second only to soybeans as a source of vegetable oil.

The sentence is correct as is.

Please pay attention to the construction. The adjective ‘second only to…oil’ for ‘sunflowers’ is placed at the end of the sentence. This construction is valid.

Option Analysis

(A) Correct.

(B) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. ‘in importance’ is redundant because whenever there is a ranking, a higher ranked is more important than a lower ranked in some way.
  2. In the given position, ‘only’ can modify soyabeans, in which case it would mean that cultivated sunflowers are second to soyabeans only (not to anybody else) or can modify ‘as a source of vegetable oil’, in which case it would mean that cultivated sunflowers are second to soyabeans only as a source of vegetable oil (not as source of anything else). This placement of ‘only’ leads to ambiguity.

(C) Incorrect. ‘being’ implying a temporary sense distorts the meaning of the sentence. ‘in importance’ is redundant as explained above.

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. ‘which’ should not be used at the end of the clause to refer to the subject of the clause. Thus, ‘which’ cannot refer to ‘sunflowers’. ‘which’ here refers to ‘a major commercial crop’. However, it’s sunflowers which are second to soybeans, not that a major commercial crop is second to soybeans.
  2. The placement of ‘only’ distorts the meaning. ‘only second’ seems to highlight that sunflowers are only second, not first or third to soybeans. Clearly, this leads to a much inferior meaning than the construction in which ‘only’ modifies ‘soybeans’, not ‘second’.

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. In this option, ‘only’ can modify ‘as a source of vegetable oil’, leading to 2nd error of option B or can modify ‘second’, leading to 2nd error of option D.
  2. The placement of ‘as a source of vegetable oil’ before ‘second to soybeans’ produces an awkward construction.

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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