Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River

Question

Over the next few years, increasing demands on the Chattahoochee River, which flows into the Apalachicola River, could alter the saline content of Apalachicola Bay, which would rob the oysters there of their flavor, and to make them decrease in size, less distinctive, and less in demand.

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

Here’s the sentence structure:

  • Over the next few years, (Prepositional phrase modifying the clause)
  • increasing demands (Main Subject – “demands”)
    • on the Chattahoochee River, (prepositional phrase modifying “demands”)
      • which flows into the Apalachicola River, (relative clause modifying “River”)
  • could alter the saline content of Apalachicola Bay, (Main verb – “could alter”)
    • which would rob the oysters there of their flavor, (relative clause. Logically needs to modify the preceding clause)
    • and to make them (logically, needs to be parallel to “rob”)
      • decrease in size,
      • less distinctive,
      • and less in demand.

The sentence says that:

Over the next few years, increasing demands on the C River could alter the saline content of the A Bay. This altering of the saline content would robe the oysters in the bay of their flavor and make the oysters smaller, less distinctive and less in demand.

The sentence has the following errors:

  1. From the meaning, it is clear that “which would rob…” needs to modify the preceding clause. However, grammatically (on GMAT), ‘which’ cannot refer to the preceding clause.
  2. “rob” and “to make” are not parallel.
  3. “make them decrease in size” is a clumsy and non-standard way. The same idea can be communicated in better ways such as “decrease their size” or “make them smaller”. However, since this part is followed by adjectives for ‘oysters’ — less distinctive and less in demand, the correct form will be “make them smaller”, and not “decrease their size”.

Please observe that in the non-underlined part, “could” has been used to talk about a future possibility. When we want to talk about a hypothetical future, we can use conditional words such as could or would.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the errors mentioned above.

(B) Incorrect. For the following errors:

  1. “it” cannot refer to the entire clause. Similar error to error no. 1 of the original sentence.
  2. There are only two elements in the list: “rob” and “make”. They need to be joined by “and”, not by a comma.

(C) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. “alter the saline content of A bay” and “rob the oysters of their flavor” have been presented as parallel elements in this option. Logically, the second element seems to be a consequence of the first element.
  2. All the effects on the oysters should logically be provided in a parallel form. However, “rob the oysters of their flavor” is part of the main clause while “making them…” is a verb-ing modifier modifying the clause.
  3. Error no. 3 of the original sentence

(D) Correct. All the errors in the original sentence have been rectified in this option. All the effects on the oysters are presented in a parallel form — “robbing” and “making” both verb-ing modifiers.

(E) Incorrect. Error no. 3 of the original sentence. 

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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