Question

The effect of the earthquake that caused most of Port Royal to sink into the Caribbean was like the eruption that buried ancient Pompeii: in each case a slice of civilization was instantly frozen in time.

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

  • The effect (Subject)
    • of the earthquake (Prepositional phrase – modifies the subject) 
      • that caused most of Port Royal to sink into the Caribbean (Relative clause – modifies ‘earthquake’)
  • was like the eruption (‘was’ – verb)
    • that buried ancient Pompeii (Relative clause – modifies ‘eruption’)
  • : in each case (colon indicates that this clause explains the previous idea. ‘In each case’ is a prepositional phrase modifying the upcoming clause)
    • a slice of civilization was instantly frozen in time. (‘a slice’ – subject and ‘was frozen’ – verb)

The sentence talks about the effect of an earthquake. Which earthquake? The one that caused most of Port Royal to sink into the Caribbean. 

This effect was like an eruption. Which eruption? The one that buried ancient Pompeii.

In both cases (earthquake and eruption), a part of humanity ceased to exist.

The only problem with the given sentence is that it compares the ‘effect’ of the earthquake with the ‘eruption’. Logically, the earthquake should be compared with the eruption, or the effect of the earthquake should be compared with the effect of the eruption.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. This option has the error highlighted above.

(B) Incorrect. This option has the same meaning error as option A.

(C) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. The “its” in “in its effects” refers to the subject of the main clause, which is “the sinking”. Essentially, this option means – “in the sinking’s effects, the sinking of most…”. The option conveys a nonsensical meaning. Logically, the sentence should talk about the effects of the earthquake, not the sinking.
  2. In this construction, “earthquake like the eruption” is grammatically incorrect. The correct way to put this is “earthquake that was like the eruption”.

(D) Correct. This option corrects the error in the original sentence. Given this option, the sentence means that the earthquake was like the eruption in terms of its effects i.e. the earthquake and the eruption had similar effects.

(E) Incorrect. This option has the same meaning error as option A.

This solution was created by Anish Passi and Chiranjeev Singh.

If you have any doubts regarding any part of this solution, please feel free to ask in the comments section.

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