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  Types of Errors in GMAT Sentence Correction: Part 1

Posted by michael on Sat 18 Oct 08 at 1:04am

Earlier I wrote about the frequency of each type of grammatical error in the Sentence Correction section of the GMAT. While it is useful to use the GMAT Official Guide terminology because it is consistent, it can also be confusing due to the Official Guide’s use of uncommon phrases such as diction, rhetorical construction, and logical predication.

What follows is an attempt to translate four GMAT terms for a sentence correction errors into something a little bit easier to understand than ‘logical predication’ and 'diction'. For some examples below, I have used actual GMAT questions, which are reprinted here with GMAC’s permission and marked with an asterisk.


This term refers to both subject verb agreement and pronoun agreement.
Subject verb agreement means the ‘what’ or the ‘who ‘of the sentence must agree with the action that is being done by that ‘what’ or ‘who’. For example, consider the following sentence:

The giraffes that lives on the savanna in East Africa not only have different coat patterns, which protect them from predators by acting as camouflage, but also use those patterns to identify suitable mates.

In the sentence above ‘giraffes’ are the subject of the sentence and ‘lives’ is the verb. The verb ‘lives’ does not agree with ‘giraffes’. For there to be agreement, ‘lives’ should be changed to ‘live’.

Pronoun agreement means that any pronoun must logically agree with the referent/antecedent (the noun to which it refers). For example, consider the same sentence from above with a slight modification:

The giraffes that live on the savanna in East Africa not only have different coat patterns, which protect it from predators by acting as camouflage, but also use those patterns to identify suitable mates.

The pronoun ‘it’ refers back to ‘giraffes’, which may not sound incorrect. However, ‘it’ is only used to refer back to a singular subject and ‘giraffes’ is plural. This sentence would be correct if ‘it’ was changed to ‘them’.


Diction simply means word choice. Consider the following sentence:

While Jackie Robinson was a Brooklyn Dodger, his courage in the face of physical threats and verbal attacks was as that of Rosa Parks, who refused to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.*

In the sentence above the word ‘as’ is used to compare two people: Jackie Robinson and Rosa Parks. ‘As’ should be used to compare two verbs (actions) not nouns (people, place, thing, idea, feeling). This sentence could be corrected by replacing ‘as’ with ‘like’.


This simply refers to rules of grammar. Most frequently, grammatical construction refers to run-on sentences, incomplete sentences, and adverb versus adjective usage. Consider the following sentence:

Carbon-14 dating reveals that the megalithic monuments in Brittany are nearly 2,000 years older than any of their supposedly Mediterranean predecessors.*

In this sentence, the word ‘supposedly’ is an adverb, which should not refer to a noun. The use of ‘supposedly’ in the sentence above suggests that it is questionable if the predecessors of megalithic monuments are Mediterranean. The meaning of the sentence suggests that what is questionable is whether the megaliths are predecessors. As a result, the sentence is incorrect. The sentence could be corrected by changing supposedly to supposed.


Logical predication means a logical comparison. Any two things that are compared or contrasted in a sentence should be logically comparable. As I mentioned in the blog on Sentence Correction Data, these questions are generally considered the most difficult. Consider the following example.

Unlike Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, John Steinbeck wrote his magnum opus, East of Eden, at the end of his career.

In the sentence above, War and Peace is compared to John Steinbeck. It is not logical to compare a book to a person. This sentence could be corrected by comparing either John Steinbeck to Leo Tolstoy or War and Peace to East of Eden.

* GMAT® questions are the property of the Graduate Management Admission Council® and are reprinted with permission.



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