At the end of the 1930s, Duke Ellington was looking for a composer

Question

At the end of the 1930s, Duke Ellington was looking for a composer to assist him — someone not only who could arrange music for his successful big band, but mirroring his eccentric writing style as well in order to finish the many pieces he had started but never completed.

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

  • At the end of the 1930s, (Prepositional phrase modifying the main verb)
  • Duke Ellington was looking for a composer to assist him — (Main Clause. Main Subject – “Duke Ellington”; Main Verb – “was looking”)
    • someone (beginning of a Noun + Noun modifier for “composer”)
      • not only who could arrange music for his successful big band, (First element in the list modifying “someone”)
      • but mirroring his eccentric writing style as well (Second element in the list modifying “someone”)
        • in order to finish the many pieces (modifies "mirroring")
          • he had started but never completed. (relative clause with “that” skipped, modifying “pieces”)

The sentence says that at the end of the 1930s, Duke Ellington was looking for a composer to assist him. The composer needed to have the below two qualities:

  1. He must be able to arrange music for Duke’s successful band
  2. He must be able to mirror Duke’s writing style so that Duke could finish his incomplete pieces.

The sentence has the following errors:

  1. “Not only…but as well” is non-idiomatic. The correct idiom is either “not only…but also” or “not only…but”.
  2. The relative clause “who could arrange…” is not parallel to the verb-ing phrase “mirroring…”.
  3. Using verb-ing phrase “mirroring his…” to modify “someone” leads to the structure “someone mirroring his…”. This structure produces a distorted meaning that the composer is mirroring Duke’s eccentric style at the same time as “Duke was looking for the composer”.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the reasons mentioned 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 verb phrase “could arrange…” is not parallel to the infinitive phrase “to mirror…”.
  2. “mirror his eccentric writing style in finishing…” means that the composer needs to mirror the eccentric style only in this particular task (finishing the incomplete pieces). However, the original sentence meant that the composer needs to have the ability to mirror his eccentric style so that the incomplete pieces could be finished. The original sentence seems more meaningful.

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. “that being” not only is redundant but also distorts the meaning since “being” indicates temporary state.
  2. The verb phrase “arrange music…” is not parallel to verb-ing phrase “mirroring his eccentric…”.
  3. The intent is most clearly expressed using “in order to finish” rather than using “for following”.

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Error no. 1 of option D
  2. The relative clause “who could…” is not parallel to verb-phrase “mirror his…”.
  3. Error no. 1 of the original sentence.
  4. The use of ‘finishing’ as a verb-ing modifier modifying the preceding clause is incorrect since it doesn’t provide relevant additional information about the previous clause.

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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