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2-19-Grammar-PtIII-2In a way, the environmental movement can still be said to be _________ movement, for while it has been around for decades, only recently has it become a serious organization associated with political parties and platforms.

The above sentence is a SE example from the 5Lb Book of GRE Practice Problems, #89.  Today’s discussion explores a third element of sentence structure that is easily overlooked – pronouns!  They can greatly help you clarify the meaning of a sentence.  (And if you didn’t notice already, do you see what I did in the previous sentence?  They – did this pronoun catch your eye?)

The challenge with pronouns isn’t that they are difficult to address, it’s that they are nearly invisible to us, because we have spent our entire adult lives ignoring them when we read and speak.  As a test, how many pronouns have I used just in this short paragraph?

Here’s one way I want you to ‘see’ the earlier SE example:

In a way, the environmental movement can still be said to be ________ movement, for while it has been around for decades, only recently has it become a serious organization associated with political parties and platforms.

Stop mid-sentence, and address those ‘it’s.  This mental exercise is not about finding the target, clues, and pivots, although you should be aware a pronoun could certainly be the target.  This is about making sure you understand the sentence.  Mentally, you should read the sentence as
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2-17-GrammarPtIISo, in my last post, I discussed finding the core sentence, using punctuation to help us break a sentence into manageable chunks.  We looked at two sentences; I’ve re-copied one of them below.

The director’s commercially-motivated attempts to (i)_______ the imperatives of the mass marketplace were (ii)_______, as evidenced by the critical acclaim but low attendance garnered by his film.

We focused on how the comma breaks the sentence in half: one half is the actual core sentence, and the other half describes how the director’s attempts were critically, but not commercially, successful.

This time, let’s dive into what’s happening with that first blank, and now I’ll give you the answer options:

sequester

obey

secure.

Many, many students in my classes choose ‘secure’, and that really puzzled me.  If a class doesn’t know the answer, there’s usually a fairly even division among the choices.  What I saw wasn’t students guessing; they thought they had the correct choice in ‘secure’.  Somehow, the third option was a trap.  How?

I have a theory: ‘secure’ is a trap because students link the first blank to the wrong element, the wrong target.  I think many students link that first blank to the word ‘marketplace’, and then think about how someone would want to ‘secure’ a ‘market’ for a product (in this case, a film).
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2-9-LittleGrammarWhile studying for the GRE Text Completion (TC) and Sentence Equivalence (SE) questions, you naturally want to study vocabulary.  After all, that’s what the test is testing, right?

Yes and no.  The GRE does test vocabulary, but it also tests your ability to analyze a sentence and divine the author’s intended meaning.  (And for those of you keeping score at home, did I use the word ‘divine’ correctly?  Are you familiar with this less common usage?)

And so, we preach (sorry, with the word ‘divine’ earlier, I had to!) a method for TC and SE that involves identifying the Target, Clues, and Pivots in the sentence.  All well and good, but how do you to this?  Here’s where the following limited grammar discussion should help, because although the GRE does not directly test grammar, a little grammar knowledge can be immensely helpful!

We begin with the core elements that every sentence contains: the subject and the verb.  Separating the subjecting and the verb from other elements (which I will generically call descriptors) is part 1 of my TC and SE analysis.  Part 2 is matching each descriptor to what it describes.

So let’s see two examples.  One is a TC example from Lesson 1, the other is a SE example from the 5 lb. Book.
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We’re using the launch of our latest book, the 5 lb.GRE Sentence Equivalence Book of GRE Practice Problems, as motivation to take a look at each of the major question types. The book contains more than 1,100 pages of practice problems “ crazy! “ so you can spend all of your spare time doing nothing but studying. (Kidding. : ) )

Let’s try out one of the problems! Give yourself approximately 1 minute to get to your answer. Afterwards, we’ll solve the problem and also discuss how to approach SE questions in general.

Note: If you haven’t done SE before, you need to pick two answers, either of which could fill in the blank!

A field trip was arranged so that this troupe of ___________ dancers could observe the real masters of their art.

 

  •        seasoned
  •        fledgling
  •        expert
  •        torpid
  •        novice
  •        lithe

© ManhattanPrep, 2013

 

Do you have your two answers? Let’s go! There are several important steps that help us to answer SE questions both effectively and efficiently. (Note: if you’ve already read the TC article, the steps are the same!)

(1) Read only the sentence

Read all the way to the period, but do NOT then jump to the answer choices. Instead

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Try this GRE Sentence Equivalence problem! After the jump, you’ll see an explanation from one of our instructors.

The theme song from the film Team America: World Police is meant as a parody, sending up the _________ slogans and anthems that have recently become a disconcertingly ubiquitous aspect of American life.

Select two correct answers.

aggressive
arrogant
boosterish
jingoistic
blustery
bloodthirsty

(Note: When you see six answer choices and square checkboxes, that’s a clue that this is a GRE Sentence Equivalence problem, to which there will always be two correct answers.)

Make your selections before reading any further!

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The exhibit is not so much a retrospective as a __________ ; the artist’s weaker early work is glossed over and any evidence of his ultimate dissolution is absent entirely.

Select two correct answers.

paean
philippic
tirade
panacea
eulogy
crescendo

(Note: When you see six answer choices and square checkboxes, that’s a clue that this is a GRE Sentence Equivalence problem, to which there will always be two correct answers.)

Make your selections before reading any further!

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