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GMAT Question of the Day – 21/6/2021

The peregrine falcon, which was added to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species List in the 1970s, has made a startling comeback, largely in cities, and the falcon is now off the list; its numbers in New York City alone are now many times greater than when it was added to the list.


(A) list; its numbers in New York City alone are now many times greater than

(B) list; its numbers in New York City alone are now many times more than

(C) list, their numbers now many times what they were

(D) list, now with many times the numbers they had

(E) list, now with numbers being many times greater than


Examine the original sentence for errors. The underlined portion includes a semicolon, which is correctly used to join two independent clauses. The second word of the underlined portion is the singular possessive pronoun “its,” which correctly refers to “the falcon” as the creature “whose numbers” have risen. Another point of potential concern is the comparison, but “numbers … are … greater than [previously]” is the correct construction to compare the falcon’s numbers now to its numbers in the 1970s. Suspect (A) is correct, but scan the answer choices to be sure nothing was overlooked.

A scan of the answer choices shows (A) and (B) use “its,” (C) and (D) use the plural pronouns “their” and “they,” and (E) avoids the use of a pronoun altogether. Another split is between the use of a semicolon and a comma, but the clauses could theoretically be joined either way, so this is not immediately useful.

Because the antecedent is the singular “falcon,” the pronoun must be singular. Thus, eliminate (C) and (D), which use the plural “their” and “they.” That leaves choices (A), (B) and (E).

As noted, (E) eliminates the pronoun altogether. In this case, the result sentence is an awkward construction with “being,” a weak verb form that the GMAT does not like. Furthermore, by omitting the pronoun, (E) subtly distorts the meaning of the original sentence. Numbers of what? Without the possessive pronoun indicating that the numbers are of falcons, the sentence is just not clear.

Compare (A) and (B). The only difference between these two choices is between “greater than” and “more than.” The proper usage is “numbers are . . . greater than.” There are more peregrine falcons, not more numbers. It would also be proper to say, There are more falcons now than when …. Thus, eliminate (B). (A) is indeed correct.

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