With the patience of its customers and with its network strained

Question

With the patience of its customers and with its network strained to the breaking point, the on-line service company announced a series of new initiatives trying to relieve the congestion that has led to at least four class-action lawsuits and thousands of complaints from frustrated customers.

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

Here’s the sentence structure:

  • With the patience of its customers (Prepositional phrase modifying the main clause)
  • and with its network (Second prepositional phrase modifying the main clause)
    • strained to the breaking point, (Verb-ed modifier modifying ‘network’)
  • the on-line service company announced a series of new initiatives (Subject: company, Verb: announced)
    • trying to relieve the congestion (Verb-ing modifier modifying ‘initiatives’)
      • that has led to (Relative clause modifying ‘congestion’. Subject: ‘that’, Verb: ‘led to’)
        • at least four class-action lawsuits (First object of the verb ‘led to’)
        • and thousands of complaints from frustrated customers. (Second object of the verb ‘led to’)

The sentence ‘intends’ to say that with two things (‘patience of its customers’ and ‘its network’) strained highly, the company announced some initiatives in an effort to bring down the congestion; this congestion has led to two things: at least 4 class-action lawsuits and thousands of customer complaints.

However, as is, the sentence says:

  • With ‘the patience’ and with ‘its network strained…’, the company announced…

While the second prepositional phrase ‘with its network strained…’ makes sense with the main clause, the first prepositional phrase ‘with the patience’ doesn’t make sense. Clearly, the following sentence doesn’t make any sense:

  • With the patience of its customers, the company announced new initiatives.

Another problem in the sentence is the use of ‘trying’ without a preceding comma. As is, ‘trying’ modifies ‘new initiatives’, meaning that new initiatives ‘are currently trying’ to relieve the congestion. This construction introduces two meaning-based errors:

  1. First, we don’t want to say that something is currently happening. The sentence talks about something in the past – ‘announced’, not in the present continuous.
  2. Second, it’s not that the initiatives are trying something. The company is trying to do something ‘through’ these initiatives.

Thus, the sentence has two errors, as explained above.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the reasons explained above.

(B) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. ‘that try’ is incorrect since it’s not the initiatives that try something; it’s the company that is trying to achieve something through the initiatives.
  2. Quality issue – As is, one can read the sentence as:
    • the patience of
      • its customers
      • and its network

In this case, the sentence would mean that the patience of its customers and the patience of its network were strained. Clearly, that is not the intended meaning.

However, one can argue that the sentence needs to be read in a way that ‘the patience of its customers’ and ‘its network’ are parallel. In this case, the sentence would make sense.

Thus, this is not an error, just a quality issue – the structure in option C doesn’t have a scope of any confusion and is thus preferred.

(C) Correct. This option corrects both the errors of the original sentence without introducing any new errors.

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. In this option, the two parallel elements are ‘with its network’ and ‘with the patience of its customers strained to the breaking point’. While the second element will make sense with the main clause, the first element will not make any sense. The following sentence doesn’t make any sense:
    • With its network, the company announced some initiatives.
  2. ‘to try to relieve’ is preferred over ‘to try relieving’, which is more colloquial in nature.

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. ‘the patience of its customers’ is preferred over ‘customers’ patience’.
  2. Same as point 2 of option D.

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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