Question

Retail sales rose 0.8 of 1 percent in August, intensifying expectations that personal spending in the July–September quarter more than doubled that of the 1.4 percent growth rate in personal spending for the previous quarter.

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

  • Retail sales rose 0.8 of 1 percent in August, (Main Subject – Retail sales; Main Verb – rose)
    • intensifying expectations that (“comma+verb-ing” modifier modifying the preceding clause)
      • personal spending (Subject of the “that” clause)
        • in the July–September quarter (prepositional phrase modifying the subject)
      • more than doubled that of the 1.4 percent growth rate (Verb of the “that” clause – “doubled”)
        • in personal spending for the previous quarter. (Prepositional phrase modifying “growth rate”)

The sentence says that:

Retail sales increased by 0.8% in August. This increase intensified the expectations that personal spending in that quarter would grow at more than double the corresponding growth rate for the previous quarter.

Makes sense?

It is important to understand the meaning of the sentence to spot any problems in the sentence. And the way to understand the meaning is to break down the sentence and then focus on the main parts of the sentence. Also, when the given sentence is grammatically incorrect, as is the given case, we need to apply logic to understand the intended meaning.

The given sentence has two errors:

  1. The use of simple past tense “doubled” in the “that clause” modifying ‘expectations’ is not correct. The expectations were for the future, and the correct way to reflect such meaning is by using “would verb” and not simple past tense.
  2. “that” in “that of” doesn’t refer to anything. It can refer to neither “growth rate” nor “personal spending”. Any of these references would lead to illogical meaning.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the errors described 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. “expectations of X that X verb” is incorrect. The correct structure is “expectations that X verb”.
  2. Error no. 1 of the original sentence

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. “expectations of personal spending more than doubling…” implies that expectations were for personal spending. “doubling” just seems to provide additional information about personal spending. To communicate that the expectations were for ‘doubling the growth rate’, we’ll need to use possessive form i.e. we’ll need to write “of personal spending’s more than doubling…”. However, we can see that even such a structure would be significantly worse off than the one in option B.
  2. Error no. 2 of the original sentence.

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Error no. 1 of option C
  2. Error no. 2 of the original sentence

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