In late 1997, the chambers inside the pyramid of the Pharaoh

Question

In late 1997, the chambers inside the pyramid of the Pharaoh Menkaure at Giza were closed to visitors for cleaning and repair due to moisture exhaled by tourists, which raised its humidity to such levels so that salt from the stone was crystallizing and fungus was growing on the walls.

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 late 1997, (Prepositional phrase modifying the main verb)
  • the chambers (Main subject)
    • inside the pyramid of the Pharaoh Menkaure at Giza (Modifies the main subject)
  • were closed to visitors (Main Verb – “were closed”)
    • for cleaning and repair (prepositional phrase modifying the main verb)
    • due to moisture exhaled by tourists, (modifies the main verb. It answers “Why were they closed?”)
      • which raised its humidity to such levels (relative clause. Logically needs to modify “moisture”)
        • so that (Seems incorrect structure. “so” shouldn’t be here. The structure should be such x that y — such levels that...)
          • salt from the stone was crystallizing (modifies “levels”. Tells the effects of the level of humidity)
          • and fungus was growing on the walls. (modifies “levels”. Tells the effects of the level of humidity)

The sentence says:

In late 1997, some chambers were closed to visitors for cleaning and repair. Why? Because of the moisture, which raised the humidity levels in the chambers to such levels that the salt from the stone was crystallizing and fungus was growing on the walls.

The sentence has the following errors:

  1. The singular pronoun “its” doesn’t agree with plural antecedent “chambers”.
  2. The structure “such levels so that…” is incorrect. The correct structure would be “such levels that…”.
  3. In this sentence, “due to” modifies the verb “were closed”. In general, “due to” modifies only nouns and not verbs. Even though in common English, “due to” has begun to modify verbs as well, we don’t know the stance of GMAT on this issue. Therefore, we should hold such use (“due to” referring to a verb) against the option; however, we shouldn’t eliminate an option just for this reason.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the errors mentioned above.

(B) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Error no. 1 of the original sentence.
  2. “would crystallize” and “was growing” are not parallel, even though they need to depict parallel actions
  3. Error no. 3 of the original sentence

(C) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. The use of past perfect “had raised” is incorrect given that past progressive “were exhaling” has been used. The use of past perfect indicates that the moisture had raised the humidity levels even before the moisture was exhaled by the tourists!
  2. Error no. 2 of option B

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. “fungus was growing” in the non-underlined part is not parallel to anything before “and”.
  2. The structure “because of moisture raising…” is an indirect and confusing way to communicate the same idea expressed very clearly in option E.

(E) Correct. The sentence correctly uses past perfect “had raised” to communicate that the humidity had been raised before the chambers were closed. Even though the reference for ‘them’ is ambiguous — it could refer to either “tourists” or “chambers” — pronoun ambiguity is not a deterministic error on GMAT, as this question clearly demonstrates.

Also, please pay good attention that the way the idea is communicated in this option makes the meaning so much clearer than the meaning in any other option. All other options were presenting “moisture” as the reason for the closing down of the chambers and then were providing additional information about the moisture. However, this option very clearly expresses that the reason is that the moisture had raised the humidity levels within the chambers. Please take time to understand this difference in clarity because I have seen such differences in many other official questions too. Such understanding may help you in identifying correct choices in the future. For example: Look at the below sentences and see which sentence communicates the idea more clearly.

  1. The meeting was cancelled because of the president who did not arrive on time.
  2. The meeting was cancelled because the president did not arrive on time.

The second one is clearer. Right?

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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