Hurricanes at first begin traveling from east to west

Question

Hurricanes at first begin traveling from east to west, because that direction is the way the prevailing winds in the tropics blow, but they then veer off toward higher latitudes, in many cases changing direction toward the east before dissipating over the colder, more northerly waters or over land.

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

  • Hurricanes at first begin traveling from east to west, (Main clause. Subject – “Hurricanes”; Verb – “begin”)
    • because that direction is the way (Dependent clause modifying the main verb. Subject – “that direction”; Verb – “is”)
      • the prevailing winds in the tropics blow, (dependent clause modifying “way” Subject – “winds”; Verb – “blow”)
  • but they then veer off toward higher latitudes, (Another independent clause. Subject – “they”; Verb – “veer off”)
    • in many cases changing direction toward the east before dissipating over the colder, more northerly waters or over land. (Verb-ing modifier modifying the preceding clause)

The sentence says:

Hurricanes begin their travel from east to west because the prevailing winds in the tropics blow in the same direction, but then the hurricanes move toward higher latitudes. In many cases, (when they are moving toward higher latitudes) they change direction toward the east before they dissipate over the colder waters or land.

The sentence has the following errors:

  1. The use of both “at first” and “begin” creates redundancy.
  2. “That direction is the way” is an overly wordy way to express the idea — “way” means same as “direction”.
  3. Since the second independent clause presents the idea in the simple present tense (“veer off”), it is logical to expect in the given context that the first will also present the information in simple present i.e. using “travel”.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the reasons mentioned above.

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

(C) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Since “while” introduces a dependent clause, an independent clause is expected after the “while” clause. However, “the direction… tropics” is not an independent clause since it doesn’t have a verb.
  2. This option seems to illogically present a contrast between “hurricanes travel…” and “the direction …tropics”. The logical and original relationship is of causality between these two ideas.
  3. Structurally, “they” in the second independent clause now seems to refer to “the direction of the prevailing winds”.

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. The use of “because” and “since” together is incorrect.
  2. The non-underlined part becomes the main clause for the “since” clause in this option. However, there is no causal relationship between the “since” clause and the non-underlined part. Thus, the given structure doesn’t make sense.

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. No verb for “Hurricanes”.
  2. The independent clause in the non-underlined part is not connected properly with the previous independent clause. Two independent clauses cannot be joined just by a comma.

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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