Starfish, with anywhere from five to eight arms


Starfish, with anywhere from five to eight arms, have a strong regenerative ability, and if one arm is lost it quickly replaces it, sometimes by the animal overcompensating and growing an extra one or two.

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 Starfish have anywhere from five to eight arms and have a strong regenerative ability. Please note that ‘Starfish’ has been used as a plural noun since plural verb ‘have’ has been used. The sentence then intends to say that if an arm is lost, it is quickly replaced. The Starfish sometimes overcompensate a lost arm and grow an extra one or two. This is what the sentence logically intends to say.

The sentence has the following errors:

  1. “it quickly replaces it” – In this clause, the first “it”, which is a singular pronoun, needs to refer to a plural noun “Starfish”. Thus, we have a pronoun error. Also, the use of two “it”s, close to each other, to refer to two different entities makes understanding the meaning difficult. Also, since the “if” clause is written in a passive voice, it is better to write the “then” clause also in the passive form. Here, the “then” part is in the active form.
  2. “sometimes by the animal” is illogical for two reasons. First, the sentence already says that starfish are replacing the arms, so there’s no need to say “by the starfish”. Second, “sometimes” further distorts the meaning. It seems starfish are only sometimes replacing the arm. What about the other times?

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the reasons described above.

(B) Correct. Both the errors in the original sentence have been corrected. Now, ‘sometimes’ correctly modifies “overcompensating”, implying that overcompensating is done sometimes.

(C) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. When we say “they lose one arm”, it seems to say that the entire Starfish species lose the same arm. It is much clearer to express this idea by using passive form (as in the correct sentence) or by talking about one Starfish.
  2. Error no. 2 of the original sentence.
  3. The ‘and’ has been deleted between ‘overcompensating’ and ‘growing’. ‘and’ was needed because these two are the only members of the list.

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Error no. 1 of option C
  2. ‘they are quickly replaced’ means the Starfish are replaced! Completely illogical!
  3. Error no. 3 of option C

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Error no. 1 of option C
  2. The shift from active voice in “if clause” to passive voice in “then” clause is not preferred.
  3. Error no. 3 of option C

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 He conducts online sessions for students across the world.

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