In the early part of the twentieth century, many vacationers found

Question

In the early part of the twentieth century, many vacationers found that driving automobiles and sleeping in tents allowed them to enjoy nature close at hand and tour at their own pace, with none of the restrictions of passenger trains and railroad timetables or with the formalities, expenses, and impersonality of hotels.

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

  • In the early part of the twentieth century, (Prepositional phrase modifying the main verb)
  • many vacationers found that driving automobiles and sleeping in tents allowed them to (Main subject – “vacationers”; Main Verb – “found”)
    • enjoy nature close at hand and
    • tour at their own pace,
  • with none of the restrictions of passenger trains and railroad timetables (Prepositional phrase modifying the “that” clause)
  • or with the formalities, expenses, and impersonality of hotels. (Prepositional phrase modifying the “that” clause)

The sentence says that:

In early 20th century, many vacations found that two things (driving automobiles and sleeping in tents) allowed them to enjoy nature closely and tour at their own pace. These two things eliminated some restrictions: restrictions associated with passenger trains and railroad timetables and also eliminated formalities, expenses, and impersonality of hotels.

The sentence has the following problem:

To understand the problem, we have to remember the most fundamental rule of parallelism. The rule is that the elements in a list are parallel only if anyone of the elements can replace any other element or the entire list. Let’s try to apply this rule to the list of “with prepositional phrases” in the underlined part.

  • In the early part of the twentieth century, many vacationers found that driving automobiles and sleeping in tents allowed them to enjoy nature close at hand and tour at their own pace, with none of the restrictions of passenger trains and railroad timetables.

The above sentence makes absolute sense. The with-prepositional-phrase provides logical additional information about the preceding clause.

Now, let’s look at the sentence with the second element of the list:

  • In the early part of the twentieth century, many vacationers found that driving automobiles and sleeping in tents allowed them to enjoy nature close at hand and tour at their own pace, with the formalities, expenses, and impersonality of hotels.

We can see now that in this sentence, the with-prepositional-phrase doesn’t make sense with the subject. The sentence illogically means that X and Y allowed vacations to enjoy nature and tour at their own pace as X and Y provided them the formalities, expenses, and impersonality of hotels. Logically, we want to say that X and Y eliminated these things. Right?

This lack of parallelism is the only error in the original sentence.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the error described above.

(B) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. “passenger trains” and “railroad timetables” are the only members in the list after “restrictions of”. So, they need to be joined by ‘and’.
  2. ‘nor formalities’ doesn’t fit into the structure of the remaining sentence.

The following structures would have been correct:

  • with none of the restrictions of passenger trains and railroad timetables and the (“the formalities…” parallel to “the restrictions)
  • with neither the restrictions of passenger trains and railroad timetables nor the

(C) Incorrect. ‘nor formalities’ doesn’t fit into the structure of the remaining sentence.

(D) Incorrect. The second part of the list “with the formalities…” creates the same meaning error as described in the sentence analysis.

(E) Correct. By making “the formalities” parallel to “the restrictions”, this option creates a logical list: “without the restrictions…” and “without the formalities…”.

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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