Question

The spraying of pesticides can be carefully planned, but accidents, weather conditions that could not be foreseen, and pilot errors often cause much larger deposits of spray than they had anticipated.

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 spraying (Subject of the First IC)
    • of pesticides (Prepositional Phrase – modifies the main subject)
  • can be carefully planned, (“can be”: Verb of the first IC)
  • but accidents, weather conditions that could not be foreseen, and pilot errors often cause (Second IC – “cause”: Verb; The subject is a compound one with three elements)
    • much larger deposits of spray than they had anticipated (Object for the verb “cause”)

While the spraying can be carefully planned, three things – accidents, unforeseeable weather conditions, and pilot errors – cause much larger deposits of spray than predicted.

There is one error in the sentence: there is no antecedent for the pronoun “they”. The antecedent of “they” has to be the doer of “anticipating”. There is no such doer in the sentence.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the reason mentioned above.

(B) Correct. The comparison becomes correct by doing away with “they had”. The comparison currently is: X, Y, and Z cause much larger deposits of spray than anticipated. While some people may find the past participle “anticipated” after “than” incorrect, this is a perfectly valid construction. Other examples of this construction:

  1. SpaceX indicates satellite-based Internet System will take longer than anticipated (Source: WSJ.com)
  2. Philippine National Bank’s ’00 Loss was much wider than predicted (Source: WSJ.com)

If you search the following phrase (including quotes) in Google, you’ll get more than 4000 results.

 “than anticipated” site:wsj.com

(C) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Same error as the original has.
  2. The contrast doesn’t make sense. With this option, the two ideas separated by “but” are:
    1. Spraying can be carefully planned
    2. X, Y, and Z are the cause of much larger deposits of spray than anticipated

The contrast is between “spraying can be carefully planned” and what are the causes of larger deposits of spray. Logically, the contrast has to be between “spraying can be carefully planned” and “something leads to much larger deposits of spray”. For example:

Logical (Parallel to the intended contrast in this sentence): He can score high, but his careless attitude causes him to score low.

Not logical(Parallel to this option): He can score high, but his careless attitude is the cause of his low score.

(D) Incorrect. The only difference between this option and option B is in the “that” clause. The reason this option is incorrect is that in Standard English, we don’t write “that are not foreseeable”; we use “that cannot be foreseen”.

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

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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