GMAT Sentence Correction, GMAT Verbal
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Sentence Correction – Identifying the Subject

While most test-takers prepping for the Sentence Correction questions on the GMAT® are aware of the Subject-Verb Error, very few are aware of the importance of identifying the subject as a standalone error.

The GMAT® question below best illustrates how identifying the subject can reduce the time taken to solve some Sentence Correction question.

Turning away from literary realism to write about the peasant life and landscape of Northern Sweden, in 1909 Selma Lagerlof was the novelist who became the first woman and was also the first Swedish writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

(A) Turning away from literary realism to write about the peasant life and landscape of northern Sweden, in 1909 Selma Lagerlof was the novelist who became the first woman and was also the first Swedish writer to win
(B) She turned away from literary realism and wrote romantic stories about the peasant life and landscape of northern Sweden, and novelist Selma Lagerlof in 1909 became the first woman as well as the first Swedish writer that won
(C) Selma Lagerlof was a novelist who turned away from literary realism to write romantic stories about the peasant life and landscape of northern Sweden and in 1909 she became the first woman in addition to the first Swedish writer winning
(D) A novelist who turned away from literary realism to write romantic stories about the peasant life and landscape of northern Sweden, Selma Lagerlof became in 1909 the first woman and also the first Swedish writer to win
(E) As a novelist, Selma Lagerlof turned away from literary realism and wrote romantic stories about the peasant life and landscape of northern Sweden, in 1909 becoming the first woman and also the first Swedish writer that won

This is the kind of sentence where before the subject is introduced there is description of the subject or the subject doing an action — Turning away from literary realism to write about the peasant life and landscape of Northern Sweden,

In all such sentences where the subject or the subject’s action is first described, the description ends with the comma. This has to be immediately followed by the name of the subject — a person, a group an organization.

In the original sentence the description ends with a comma, followed by “in 1909” instead of the subject, in this case — Selma Lagerlof.

In option (B) it is not clear who is the person who turned away from literary realism because the “and” before Selma Lagerlof makes it two separate actions.

In option (C) ends with “winning”, which is incorrect.

In (D) the description is correctly followed by the name of the subject, Selma Lagerlof and there is no other error in the sentence.

In (E) apart from other errors, the sentence incorrectly ends with “that won” instead of “who won”. Hence, (D).

On tougher questions testing the same concept, the correct option can follow a completely different structure where instead of starting with description of the subject, the sentence starts with the subject itself.

In the next post on GMAT® Sentence Correction, we will look at a few more questions testing this concept.

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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Sentence Correction – How To Increase Your Speed On Sentence Correction 3 | The GMAT Blogger

  2. Pingback: 10 Rules For GMAT Sentence Correction | The GMAT Blogger

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