Along the major rivers that traverse the deserts of northeast Africa

Question

Along the major rivers that traverse the deserts of northeast Africa, the Middle East, and northwest India, the combination of a reliable supply of water and good growing conditions both encouraged farming traditions that, in places, endure in at least 6,000 years.

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:

  • Along the major rivers (Modifies the main clause: “the combination encouraged farming traditions along the major rivers)
    • that traverse the deserts of (relative clause modifying “rivers”)
      • northeast Africa,
      • the Middle East,
      • and northwest India,
    • the combination of (Main subject – “the combination”)
      • a reliable supply of water and
      • good growing conditions both
    • encouraged farming traditions (Main verb – “encouraged”)
      • that, in places, endure in at least 6,000 years. (relative clause modifying “farming traditions”)

Breaking down a sentence or understanding the sentence structure helps a lot in focusing on the essence of the sentence and prevents us from getting lost in the details. When we look at the sentence structure, we can see that the sentence essentially says that along some rivers, the combination of two things encouraged some farming traditions and that these farming traditions have endured for at least 6000 years.

The problems with the sentence are:

  1. The use of “combination” and “both” creates redundancy.
  2. The use of simple present “endure” is incorrect. From the context of the sentence, it is clear that we do not intend to present a general fact or rule about the farming traditions that they endure for 6000 years. We want to say that these farming traditions endured (or have endured) for 6000 years.
  3. The preposition “in” is incorrect after “endure”. The correct structure is “endure for”, not “endure in”.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the errors described above.

(B) Correct. This option corrects all the errors in the original sentence without introducing any new error.

(C) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. The correct idiom is “combination of X and Y”. Saying “combination of X and of Y” is incorrect.
  2. The plural verb “have encouraged” doesn’t agree with the singular subject “combination”.
  3. The present perfect “have encouraged” indicates we’re talking about the time till present. However, the simple past “endured” indicates some uncertain past. The first part means that something has encouraged farming traditions (till now). The second part means that these farming traditions endured for 6000 years (sometime in the past). Thus, the sentence produces an illogical meaning.

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Error no. 1 of option C
  2. Error no. 1 of the original sentence
  3. “endured” without the preposition “for” creates an illogical meaning that the farming traditions have suffered 6000 years.

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Error no. 1 of option C
  2. OG explanation says that the use of present perfect progressive “have been enduring” is not grammatically incorrect but inappropriate. I agree with the explanation because there is no need to highlight the “happening” of the action “endure”. As I have discussed in other questions as well, we should not use progressive tense to present general information. The use of progressive tense should be limited to present actions happening in the moment.

About Chiranjeev Singh

An Alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad and with a score 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 +91 9971 0010 67 or CJ@GMATwithCJ.com. He conducts online sessions for students across the world.

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