Question: Maltanian Healthcare

Comment on Maltanian Healthcare

The correct answer choice is "However much of the senators agree. Is that not wrong because it should be many of the senators and not much because they are countable
gmat-admin's picture

In this instance "much" is modifying the verb "agree." It is not indicating the number of senators.


How do you identify that "much" is modifying the verb "agree". For a non native english speaker like me, i eliminated this choice solely on the fact that "much" refers to "senators" , which is in correct.
Please help. :)
gmat-admin's picture

"Much" cannot refer to "senators," because senators are countable (1 senator, 2 senators, etc). So, we'd have to write "However MANY senators..."

For more, see this video:

Hi Brent. This question is still buging me up. I understood that "much" can't be associated with "senators" because they are an accountable subject, but I didn't got yet how the word "much" could be associated with the verb "agree", in this case the word "agree" is a verb, isn't it? Is it possible that the word "much" in this passage is a kind of a adverb to denote the intensity of how they agreed to the issue? I'm a sort of confused.
gmat-admin's picture

"Is it possible that the word "much" in this passage is a kind of a adverb to denote the intensity of how they agreed to the issue?"

That is exactly the case!

MUCH can also be an adverb. Here are some examples:
Joe loves cookies very MUCH.
Joe has not changed MUCH since high school.


Hi, Brent. But still there is an ambiguity using word "much". It is separated from word agree. So, here is a question: much senators (which is grammatically incorrect) or much agree (which is as well strange as states to far from "agree")
gmat-admin's picture

In this case, MUCH is a verb modifier, and verb modifiers aren't necessarily required to touch the verb they modify.

Here's an official GMAT question with the same construction:


I think those in this sentence is wrong because there is no plural noun to which it can refer .
I think it should be that of most other industrial countries

Please explain .

gmat-admin's picture

We are comparing the health care system in Maltania with the health care systems in other countries.

So, we could have written "...the Maltanian health care system is lagging behind THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS of most industrialized countries."

Or we can replace HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS with THOSE to get "...the Maltanian health care system is lagging behind THOSE of most industrialized countries."

Hello! My question is For E, there are two modifiers for "agreement", one is "among the senators", the other one is " that...", I am wondering is there any rule for which modifier should be put in front of which ? Or just because "among the senators" is shorter, that is why it got put in front of " that..." ?

gmat-admin's picture

That's a great question. I don't believe that there's such a rule. However, we can quickly see that, if we were to reverse the order of the modifiers, there would be ambiguity.


what level question is this?
gmat-admin's picture

I'd say it's around the 650 level.

hey brent, one thing here doesn't make sense to me. Your main reason for cancelling option B and C is because it doesn't have the word 'that', and your saying it should because the underlined phrase as well as a line later in the passage does. i.e. parallelism.

However, one of the 'that' words, is in a sentence which is wrong. The underlined sentence is only option A. Hence, we are saying we need to keep the parallelism of a word that is in an incorrect sentence...

So tough to explain what i mean, hopefully you get me? Alternatively, the way i approach the question is to analyse if theres anything wrong with the underlined, and if so choose an option that is better. I don't necessarily want to keep certain things from the underlined in my head to dictate my choice because that very underlined sentence was wrong in the first place.

If I'm approaching this wrong please let me know.


gmat-admin's picture

I think I know what you're asking.

The main issue here is that the non-underlined portion cannot be altered.

The non-underlined part (and that the government needs...) starts with "that".

Since we can't change the non-underlined part, we need to change the underlined part to be parallel.

Does that help?


gmat-admin's picture

I just thought of an example.

I can express the same idea in two grammatically correct ways. Consider this:
1. Joe like traveling by bus, train and plane.
2. Joe like traveling by bus, by train and by plane.

Both of these are perfectly fine sentences.

Now let's say we have the following Sentence Correction question: Joe like traveling by bus, TRAIN and by plane (I've capitalized the word that would normally be underlined).

If we just examine the first part of the sentence (Joe like traveling by bus, TRAIN...), we might see that this is identical to sentence #1 above. So, it might seem okay to go with TRAIN.

HOWEVER, we need to look at the entire sentence. When we do so, we see "...and by plane." Since we can't change these words, we need to recognize that, to maintain parallelism, we need BY TRAIN.


Hi Brent can you state the exact reason for cancelling out option A.
gmat-admin's picture

There are two main problems:

"in agreement TO...." is not idiomatic. In this case, it should be "in agreement WITH"

"[the] senators are in agreement to the fact that..." can be written much more concisely: "[the] senators agree that..."

Does that help?


Quick question - The first comma has ", and" doesn't that makes it mandatory for the preceding clause to be independent?
gmat-admin's picture

That's correct. Sometimes we use ", and" for simply listing things. Here's an example:


I studied in college that a sentence never starts with “However” please help.

gmat-admin's picture

Hi Lynda83,

Great point. The interesting thing about grammar is that the experts sometimes disagree on various issues. So, in those cases, we need to understand what the GMAT test-makers feel is correct (and they're okay with beginning a sentence with HOWEVER).

Here's an official GMAT question where the correct answer begins with HOWEVER:


Hi Brent
I'm still confused with option "much"
how should I understand that "much" here connected with the verb
It touches Subject, not verb
What is the rule here should be applied?
gmat-admin's picture

Great question!

In general, we use MANY when we're modifying countable nouns (e.g., There were MANY dogs at the park), and we use MUCH to modify non-countable nouns (e.g., Joe doesn't have MUCH money).

However, in this case, HOWEVER MUCH isn't modifying a noun at all; it's modifying the verb AGREE. So, the countable vs. non-countable issue doesn't apply here.

If HOWEVER MUCH modifies a verb, then the phrase is intended to express EXTENT.

In fact, we can think of the phrase as meaning "DESPITE THE EXTENT TO WHICH"

So, answer choice D could be read as "DESPITE THE EXTENT TO WHICH Maltania's senators agree that the Maltanian healthcare system is lagging behind...."

Does that help?


Hi Brent,

Would "and that the government needs to reform its healthcare" be considered fluff?
gmat-admin's picture

Yes, that could be considered fluff.

In fact, "THAT the Maltanian healthcare system is lagging behind those of most industrial countries and THAT the government needs to reform its healthcare" consists of two relative clauses that tell us more about AGREE.

When we ignore the fluff we get "However much Maltania's senators agree, it is difficult to predict when they will reach a compromise on the healthcare overhaul bill.

I hope that helps.


In the non underlined part we have "Maltanian healthcare system is lagging behind "those" of most industrial countries"

In this sentence what does plural pronoun "those" refer to? Shouldn't it refer to health care system? But isn't this noun singular??

Thanks for this question though. It made me realize that "However much" is a correct Idiom
gmat-admin's picture

THOSE(plural) = the healthcare systems(plural) of other countries.

In other words, "The Maltanian healthcare system is lagging behind the healthcare systems of most industrial countries.

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