Lesson: Modifiers - Part II

Comment on Modifiers - Part II

Hi there,

Thank you for these videos. They are by far the best GMAT prep resources out there!

Please can you help clarify the following questions:
1. Do we use 'that' or 'whom' to modify groups of people? For example, do we say 'the team who wins' or 'the team that wins'?
2. Do we use commas for modifiers? For example, should there be commas in the sentence 'The tree, whose branches overhang the street, is covered with blossoms'?

Thank you.
gmat-admin's picture

Thanks for the kudos, Winnie!

1. Use "that" for groups of people

2. The answer to that question depends on whether the modifying phrase "whose branches overhang the street" is essential or not to help identify the subject of the sentence.

For example, if there are many trees on the street, and you are referring specifically to the one whose branches overhang the street, then the modifying phrase is essential and we don't use commas.

On the other hand, if it is apparent which tree we're referring to (e.g., there's only one tree on the street), then the modifying phrase is just providing extra non-essential information about the tree, in which case we DO use commas.

More here: https://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/gmat-sentence-correction/video/1166

Brent - Thanks for great videos.

I believe you meant to say that 'we do use comma' in your response towards the end.
gmat-admin's picture

Thanks for the heads up!! I've edited my response.

Why is Luke the subject and not the object at point 02:36? Was it because the verb is associated with Luke?
gmat-admin's picture

In the relative clause "whom Luke helped," we have the verb "helped."

When we ask, "Who did the helping?", the answer is Luke. So, Luke is the subject of that clause.

More here: https://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/gmat-sentence-correction/video/1153

Sir may I get the flash cards for sentence Correction.I am unable to find .Please Help me

Hi in the sentence Kevin dislikes artists who/whom draw kittens ? Why is the verb in the sentence assumed to be draw ? Can dislike not play the role of the verb and if so then kevin becomes the subject and Dislikes becomes the verb and therefore artists will be the object of the sentence
gmat-admin's picture

There are two verbs:

1) dislikes is one verb, and "Kevin" is the subject performing the verb

2) draw is another verb, and "who" is the subject performing the verb

Hey Brent any detailed explanation or article you can point to for the who/whoever and whom/whomever? Don't follow your explanation well on this one.

Hi Brent,

Please explain answer choices of below question. What is difficulty level for this question?

gmat-admin's picture

Mitch (GMATGuruNY) provides a beautiful solution here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/og-question-to-gmatguru-t292902.html

Please let me know if you'd like me to clarify anything.

Hi Brent,

I am struggling to understand why B is correct.

option (B) Found only in the Western Hemisphere, hummingbirds survive through extremes of climate, their range extending

I understand first part is modifying Hummingbirds but couldn't understand what is relation between last two parts i.e. hummingbirds survive through extremes of climate, their range extending

gmat-admin's picture

Question link: https://gmatclub.com/forum/found-only-in-the-western-hemisphere-205346.html

In this sentence, the phrase THEIR RANGE refers to the hummingbirds, but the entire phrase (their range extending from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, from sealevel rain forests to the edges of Andean snowfields and ice fields at altitudes of 15,000 feet.) modifies the verb SURVIVE by telling us HOW hummingbirds survive the climate.

Example: Joe greeted the cheering crowd, his face beaming.
Here, HIS FACE refers to Joe, but the entire phrase modifies the verb GREETED, telling us HOW Joe greeted the crowd.

Does that help?


Hi Brent,

can you please explain below question. I understand concept when I read gmatclub but I forget it and I get same question wrong next time. I think I need to understand fundamentls to get all such question correct

gmat-admin's picture

Mitch (GMATGuruNY) provides a great analysis here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/og-question-to-gmatguru-t292902.html


Hi Brent! On the sentence "Sandra and Sam like to visit Belize during the summer, when there are no hurricanes", could you help me understand what each word/phrase/clause in the sentence is doing/acting as?
I am confused because I thought that the Relative Clause "When there are no hurricanes" modified "visit"? Sandra and Sam like to visit when there are no hurricanes. Hmm... but the video says it modifies "summer". How can I know what it modifies? Thank you so much

gmat-admin's picture

This is a similar question to your last one (here https://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/gmat-sentence-correction/video/1163).

In this case, the clause "when there are no hurricanes" answers the question "What else can you tell me about the SUMMER?" (answer: it's when there are no hurricanes)

Also notice the TO VISIT is an infinitive phrase that functions as a noun. When we ask the question "What else can you tell me about TO VISIT?", the relative clause doesn't really answer the question.


Hi Brent! I have the same doubt here as on the previous video. On the sentence "I once lived in London, where I attended university" I am having troubles identifying what the relative clause refers to. If I ask "where?" then it follows that "I once lived.... where?.... "where I attended university" ... and that would mean that "where I attended university is a verb modifier. But the video shows that the relative clause is actually modifying the noun London. How can I avoid this confusion? Thank you so much.
gmat-admin's picture

IN LONDON modifies the verb LIVED, as in "Where did you do this living?" (Answer: in London). So, IN LONDON tells us more about the living.

From here, WHERE I ATTENDED UNIVERSITY tells us about LONDON, as in "Tell me more about London" (Answer: London is where I attended university).

Compare this to "Tell me more about the living you did." In this case, the answer "the living is where I attended university" makes no sense.

So, "where I attended university" must be modifying London.


Thank you so much! It helps a lot!

Hi Brent!
I've a question on modifier "where"
Consider the sentence ' Singing is where my passion lies.'
I understand singing is not a physical location but can't even replace by 'in which'. Is my sentence flawed ?
Thank you!
gmat-admin's picture

This somewhat informal construction is fine for everyday English, but the GMAT would consider it incorrect.
That said, I doubt that GMAT test-makers would test this construction.

Also note that we could just write:
Singing is my passion
My passion lies in singing :-)


Hi Brent. In 4:18 I do not see how the employee is the subject and therefore gets "who". It is Haruki who is doing the firing?
gmat-admin's picture

The sentence: Haruki will fire any employee who arrives late.

Great question, GMATTTer!

The key her is to recognize that the sentence has two verbs (FIRE and ARRIVES), and each verb has a different subject.

For the verb FIRE, we can see that the subject is HARUKI (since Haruki will perform the firing).

For the verb ARRIVES, we can see that the subject is EMPLOYEE (since the employee is performing the act of arriving).
Since WHO is taking the place of EMPLOYEE, we need the subjective form WHO.

Does that help?


5:26, Why is there no comma after, I had a dream. It is followed by a non-restrictive clause. I had a dream, where I was chased by squirrels is more appropriate. Isn't it?
gmat-admin's picture

Great question!

ASIDE: I should mention that the sentence "I had a dream where I was chased by squirrels" is grammatically incorrect, since WHERE is used to modify a non-location.

Okay, so this question boils down to whether the modifier "where I was chased by squirrels" is VITAL or NON-VITAL (this concept is covered here: https://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/gmat-sentence-correction/video/1166)

So, we must ask "Without the modifier, is the noun under discussion clearly identified?"

Well, the clause "where I was chased by squirrels" modifies the noun DREAM.
If we IGNORE that clause, is the noun under discussion clearly identified?

I'd say the answer to that question is "no," since we're talking about a very specific dream.
As such, the clause "where I was chased by squirrels" is VITAL.
This means we shouldn't use a comma.

Does that help?


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