The absence from business and financial records of the nineteenth century of statistics about women leave us with no record of the jobs that were performed by women and how they survived economically.
(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)
The sentence says that the absence of statistics about women from some records leaves with no record of two things:
- the jobs that the women performed
- how the women survived economically
As you can see, I missed mentioning some details. However, when you trying to understand the gist of a sentence, you should try to skip the details just as I did: I compressed “business and financial records of the nineteenth century” into “some records”. Doing so, I believe, is very helpful since it allows you to cut through the details and focus on the essence of the sentence. Otherwise, I have seen many people getting lost in the details of the sentences and not able to figure out the main idea of the sentence.
Now, having understood the intended meaning of the sentence, we can look at the errors in the sentence.
- “of statistics about women” should come right after “absence”. Why? Because it is much easier to read and understand “absence of statistics about women from business and financial records of the nineteenth century” than the given structure. The part “of the nineteenth century of statistics about women” in the original sentence is confusing and difficult to understand. Right?
- The subject “absence” is singular while the verb “leave” is plural.
- Lack of parallelism: The absence leaves us with no record of:
- the jobs that were performed by women
- and how they survived economically.
The above two elements need to be parallel since they constitute a list. Since the second element is in the non-underlined part, the first element should preferably be changed into a noun clause.
(A) Incorrect. For the errors described above.
(B) Incorrect. For the below reasons:
- Error no.1 of the original sentence. Actually, the structure in this option is even more distorted than the one in the original sentence.
- Error no. 2 of the original sentence.
(C) Incorrect. For the following reasons:
- The preposition ‘in’ is incorrect in “records in the nineteenth century”. We want to say that these records contain the details of the nineteenth century. Therefore, we must use “of”, not “in”. Using “in” indicates that these records existed in the nineteenth century, not that they are of the nineteenth century.
- “either… and” is incorrect. “either…or” is the correct idiom.
- The element after “either” (the jobs…) and the element after “and” (of how…) are not grammatically or logically parallel.
- The use of past progressive isn’t appropriate. The present progressive should be used for a continuous action at a certain time in the past, not for a general fact.
(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:
- Singular subject (absence) with plural verb (leave)
- Error no. 3 of the original sentence
(E) Correct. This option corrects all the errors in the original sentence without introducing any new error.