Ryunosuke Akutagawa‘s knowledge of the literatures of Europe, China and that of Japan were instrumental in his development as a writer, informing his literary style as much as the content of his fiction.

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)


Sentence Analysis

The sentence says that RA’s knowledge of literatures of three countries was instrumental in his development as a writer. How? By informing his literary styles and the content of his fiction equally.

The sentence has the following errors:

  1. “that of Japan” is not parallel to other two members of the list: Europe and China.
  2. The plural verb “were” doesn’t agree with the singular subject “knowledge”

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the errors mentioned above.

(B) Incorrect. For the below reasons:

  1. Error no. 1 of the original sentence
  2. “both…as well as…” is non-idiomatic. The correct idiom is “both…and”.
  3. In this option, the information is presented using two independent clauses. However, by doing so, this option eliminates the relationship between the two sets of information, and thus reduces the clarity in the sentence.

(C) Correct. Both the errors of the original sentence have been corrected in this option. The verb-ing modifier “informing” correctly modifies the preceding clause by providing information about “how the knowledge was instrumental in his development”.

(D) Incorrect. The error, I believe, is very subtle in this option, and it has got more to do with logic and meaning than grammar or English usage. This option says that the knowledge was instrumental in his development as a writer because the knowledge informed his literary style and the content of his fiction EQUALLY.

The question is: how can this equation make the knowledge instrumental in his development? What if these two things were impacted unequally? Then, couldn’t knowledge have been instrumental?

So, as you probably can see, the sentence produces an illogical meaning. This comparison or “equation” is what makes this option wrong.

Also, the relationship between “knowledge being instrumental” and “informing his literary style and content” is a relationship of “HOW”, as I explained in option C, and not a relationship of “Why”. This option makes it a relationship of “Why” by using “as”.

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. The plural verb “were” doesn’t agree with the singular subject “knowledge”
  2. “both…in addition to” is non-idiomatic.

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