According to recent studies comparing the nutritional value of meat from wild animals and meat from domesticated animals, wild animals have less total fat than do livestock fed on grain and more of a kind of fat they think is good for cardiac health.
(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)
In this sentence, I think breaking down the structure will greatly help in understanding the meaning of the sentence. (I believe it’s a good idea to always break down the structure of the sentence to understand the meaning and the grammar of the sentence. I don’t always do such break-down in my solutions on the website, just to save time and space. However, for the beginners (or people who are stuck at some score), such structure analysis can be really useful.)
- According to recent studies
- comparing the nutritional value of meat from wild animals and meat from domesticated animals, (This entire phrase is a verb-ing modifier modifying “studies”)
- wild animals have (This is the main clause and is the idea ‘according to the studies’. Animals – Subject; Have – verb)
- less total fat than do livestock fed on grain (first part of “what wild animals have”. They have less total fat than livestock fed on grain have. Everything’s fine here.)
- and more of a kind of fat they think is good for cardiac health. (second part of “what wild animals have”. They have more of a kind of fat ‘they’ think is good for cardiac health. There is no antecedent for ‘they’ – Error! ‘they’ cannot refer to wild animals since they cannot think what is good for cardiac health!
Also, note that ‘they think is good for cardiac health’ is a clause modifier for ‘kind of fat’. While presenting the modifier, ‘that’ has been skipped (Acceptable. Not an error). With ‘that’, this part would have read ‘kind of fat that they think is good…”. Also, notice that there is no ‘than’ in this part after ‘more’. Is this acceptable? The answer is Yes. Why? Because the ‘than’ part is fairly obvious. The comparison is between the ‘good fat’ and the fat in the other category – ‘not good’).
So, from our analysis, we understand that there is one error in the original sentence – the use of ‘pronoun’ without a logical antecedent.
(A) Incorrect. For the error mentioned above.
(B) Correct. The pronoun error has been corrected in this option. Also, as one can notice, ‘do’ has been eliminated in the first comparison. However, since such elimination does not lead to any ambiguity in meaning, it is acceptable. Below is an example in which we cannot eliminate the verb from the ‘than’ part.
- X is closer to Y than is Z.
If we eliminate ‘is’ from the above sentence (X is closer to Y than Z), the sentence becomes ambiguous, for it will have two possible interpretations:
- X is closer to Y than Z is.
- X is closer to Y than to Z.
However, such ambiguity doesn’t arise in the given sentence, so dropping the verb ‘do’ is fine.
(C) Incorrect. For the following reasons:
- No referent for ‘that’. If it were ‘total fat in wild animals is greater than that in livestock’, it would be correct since the referent for ‘that’ will be ‘total fat’. However, as is, there is no referent for ‘that’ in the sentence. (Some people say that ‘total fat’ is the referent for ‘that’. However, structurally, such a reference is not correct.)
- When we say ‘more fat of xyz kind’, it seems we are comparing ‘fat’ with something else. It seems on the lines of “more fat of xyz kind than ‘some other thing’ of xyz kind”. Or, it could be just a continuation of the previous comparison and thus could mean “wild animals have more fat of xyz kind than livestock have”. However, if we wanted it to be a continuation of the comparison with livestock, then we should have mentioned livestock after both of these comparisons. For example: we could have said “wild animals have less total fat and more fat of xyz kind than do livestock”.
Therefore, the second comparison is not clear.
(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:
- The first comparison compares ‘total fat’ with ‘livestock’. Clearly, an illogical comparison.
- The second comparison after ‘and’ begins a new independent clause and thus need to be separated with the previous clause by ‘comma + and’ and not just by ‘and’. Therefore, this option also has a punctuation error.
- Error no. 2 of option C.
(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:
- The first comparison is incorrect. If we take ‘that’ to stand for ‘total fat’, the comparison is:
- Total fat is less in wild animals than total fat of livestock
It seems we are comparing two things that exist in wild animals:
- Total fat
- Total fat of livestock
Think about it! Essentially, we are saying the first item is less than the second item in wild animals. Clearly, illogical.
To make the intended comparison, we’ll need to say:
Total fat is less in wild animals than in livestock.
- The part after ‘and’ is an independent clause and is not punctuated correctly with the first independent clause.
- No referent for ‘they’ – same error as in the original sentence.