Making things even more difficult has been general market inactivity lately, if not paralysis, which has provided little in the way of pricing guidance.
(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)
The first thing you need to figure out to understand the sentence is that the sentence is in inverted sentence structure. You can figure this out by seeing that “making things difficult has been market inactivity” doesn’t make sense in a regular sentence structure. Right?
To understand the meaning of the sentence better, let’s convert the sentence into a normal sentence structure:
General market inactivity, if not paralysis, which has provided little in the way of pricing guidance, has been making things even more difficult lately.
The sentence says that the market inactivity has not provided much pricing guidance. This market inactivity has been making things even more difficult lately.
There is one problem in the original sentence: “lately” shouldn’t appear after the subject. It should appear after “difficult”. As is, its placement not only creates confusion on what it modifies but also makes the reference of “which” to “inactivity” more difficult.
(A) Incorrect. For the reason mentioned above.
(B) Incorrect. For the following reasons:
- “Making things…” seems to play the role of a beginning verb-ing modifier in this option. However, it doesn’t modify anything since the main clause starts with “there”. Besides, there is no comma between the modifier and the main clause. The comma is necessary to delineate and clarify the beginning modifier.
- This option has two independent clauses (“there is…” and “it has…”). The two independent clauses are joined by a comma. Punctuation error.
(C) Incorrect. The beginning modifier “making things…” is not joined properly with the main clause. The beginning modifier must be joined with the main clause with a comma.
(D) Correct. Please note that this option converts the sentence into a normal sentence structure, with “inactivity” as the subject and “has provided” as the verb.
(E) Incorrect. This option is a fragment i.e. it doesn’t have an independent clause. There is no verb for “general market inactivity”.