Unlike the virginal, whose single set of strings runs parallel

Question

Unlike the virginal, whose single set of strings runs parallel to the front edge of the instrument, the harpsichord’s several sets of strings are placed at right angles to its front edge.

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

  • Unlike the virginal, (This non-underlined portion presents a comparison to the Main Subject)
    • whose single set of strings runs parallel to the front edge of the instrument, (Dependent clause modifying ‘virginal’; Subject: ‘set of strings’; Verb: ‘runs’)
  • the harpsichord’s several sets of strings are placed at right angles to its front edge. (Main Subject: ‘sets of strings’; Main Verb: ‘are placed’)

The sentence seems to present a comparison between two instruments: the virginal and harpsichord. In the harpsichord, the sets of strings are at right angles to its front edge while in the virginal, the single set of strings runs parallel to the front edge of the instrument.

The given sentence has one problem: It compares an instrument, the virginal, with the sets of strings of another instrument, harpsichord. Ideally, the comparison should be between two instruments or between their sets of strings.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the reason mentioned above.

(B) Incorrect. Same error as in the original sentence.

(C) Incorrect. “Unlike X” construction needs to be followed by the Subject. In this option, the presence of “in the case of the harpsichord” distorts the comparison structure. Besides, even the subject ‘several sets of strings’ does not make sense with ‘unlike the virginal’.

(D) Correct. This option correctly compares the virginal and harpsichord. While the virginal has a single set of strings, harpsichord has several sets of strings. (Please note that the comparison/contrast in this option turned out to be different from what we expected from the original sentence. Therefore, we should never reject an option just because it says something different from the original sentence. At times, the correct option will say something different from the original sentence. Therefore, as long as what the option says is logical, the option shouldn’t be rejected just for being different from the original sentence.)

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. The singular subject ‘a single set of strings’ does not agree with the plural verb ‘run’.
  2. Same error as in the original sentence.

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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