Style

Remember that GMAT asks you to choose the best answer. So many times you will have two options which are grammatically correct. In such cases GMAT prefers the sentence that is CORRECT, CONCISE & CLEAR. This gives us the golden rule of 3 C’s. Here it goes…

Keep it short

Longer sentences introduce unnecessary complexity, awkwardness and redundancy. Everything else being equal, choose the shorter, simpler version over the longer, more complex one.
One of the problems with wordy answer choices is that they contain redundancies; that is, they essentially say the same thing twice.
Be careful to preserve the meaning of the original sentence. This is another type of error. You are not supposed to alter the meaning or intent of the given sentence even if it is not correct grammatically.
There are several lists for redundant word. It’s not possible to learn every one of them. So the best way to handle this is to compare the options and figure out why one of the options is shorter than the other. And if you think that the eliminated words were actually redundant, the job becomes easy.

  • (absolutely) necessary
  • (actual) facts
  • advance (forward)
  • add (up)
  • (added) bonus
  • alternative (choice)
  • at least as many as
  • autobiography (of his or her own life)
  • (basic) necessities
  • best (ever)
  • both…as well as
  • (brief) summary
  • circle (around)
  • classify (into groups)
  • (close) proximity
  • combine (together)
  • consensus of opinion
  • co-operate…together
  • could (possibly)
  • descend (down)
  • drop (down)
  • earlier (in time)
  • eliminate (altogether)
  • (end) result
  • (exact) same
  • fall (down)
  • (final) conclusion
  • free gift
  • (future) plans
  • incredible (to believe)
  • introduced (for the first time)
  • join (together)
  • (joint) collaboration
  • lag (behind)
  • look (ahead) to the future
  • look back (in retrospect)
  • may (possibly)
  • merge (together)
  • might (possibly)
  • (native) habitat
  • (natural) instinct
  • never (before)
  • (new) beginning
  • (old) custom
  • (pair of) twins
  • (past) experience
  • (past) history
  • (past) memories
  • (past) records
  • postpone (until later)
  • raise (up)
  • reason is (because)
  • recur (again)
  • refer (back)
  • reflect (back)
  • repeat (again)
  • reply (back)
  • revert (back)
  • same (exact)
  • whether (or not)

Style check!

A few more pointers about good style.

  • The pronominal possessives hersitstheirsyours, and oneself have no apostrophe.
  • Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas
    EXAMPLE: Marjorie’s husband, Colonel Nelson paid us a visit yesterday.
    My brother you will be pleased to hear, is now in perfect health.
  • Non-restrictive relative clauses are, in accordance with this rule, set off by commas.
    EXAMPLE: The audience, which had at first been indifferent, became more and more interested. 

    In these sentences the clauses introduced by whichwhen, and where are non-restrictive; they do not limit the application of the words on which they depend, but add, parenthetically, statements supplementing those in the principal clauses. Each sentence is a combination of two statments which might have been made independently.The audience was at first indifferent. Later it became more and more interested.

  • Restrictive relative clauses are not set off by commas.
    EXAMPLE: The candidate who best meets these requirements will obtain the place. 

    In this sentence the relative clause restricts the application of the word candidate to a single person. Unlike those above, the sentence cannot be split into two independent statements.

  • Do not join independent clauses by a comma
    If two or more clauses, grammatically complete and not joined by a conjunction, are to form a single compound sentence, the proper mark of punctuation is a semicolon. 

    EXAMPLE: Stevenson’s romances are entertaining; they are full of exciting adventures.
    It is nearly half past five; we cannot reach town before dark.
    It is of course equally correct to write the above as two sentences each, replacing the semicolons by periods.
    Stevenson’s romances are entertaining. They are full of exciting adventures.

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