Question: Sunnycrest Farm

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the verb phrase "can help provide" is in plural form, so is the subject "neither vast amount of sunshine nor a large workforce" singular??. if so should the verb be "provides" instead ??
gmat-admin's picture

Certain verbs (see, hear, watch, make, help) can be combined with the bare infinitive, the infinitive form of a verb with the to omitted.


- John heard the dog bark. ("bark" = bare infinitive, "to bark" with the "to" omitted)

- Susan is watching her son play baseball. ("play" = bare infinitive, "to play" with the "to" omitted)

So, "can help provide" is not really in plural form. The structure will be the same either way.
For example, we can write "He (singular) can help provide," or "They (plural) can help provide."

This concept is not tested on the GMAT.

I still didn't get why B is not correct? vast amount of sunshine and number of workers seem to be parallel to me. They shouldn't affect each other
gmat-admin's picture

This comes down to intended meaning. The original sentence is conveying two ideas:

1) having A LOT OF sunshine will not make the farm financially viable
2) having A LOT OF workers will not make the farm financially viable.

Answer choice B conveys only idea #1. It conveys that idea that having A LOT OF sunshine will not make the farm financially viable. It does this by saying "vast amounts of sunshine."

However, answer choice B does not convey the idea #2. It doesn't mention anything about the SIZE of the workers. It just says "number" of workers.

Hi Brent,

In the question it is given as "no amount of sunshine". This does not give any numerical value or does not mention anything about the size of sunshine, it simply says NO AMOUNT of subshine i.e there should be ZERO sunshine.
Then how can "A LOT of sunshine" be the right answer?
gmat-admin's picture

Interesting question. When we say "no amount of sunshine...can help," we aren't saying that zero rays of sunshine can help. We're saying that no quantity of sunshine can help.

In other words, "A TINY AMOUNT of sunshine ...will not help" and even "A LOT of sunshine...will not help."


Sorry, but I didn't understand this question. Could you explain in another way or with other examples?
gmat-admin's picture

Which question are you referring to?

shouldn't we eliminate B, C, and E because the noun"owners" doesn't touch the prepositional phrase? isn't it more appropriate to bring "owners" closer to "After careful deliberation". or that is not good enough reason?
gmat-admin's picture

No, that's not a good enough reason. For example, in B, it's perfectly acceptable to start with "After careful deliberation, the Sunnycrest Farm owners..."

Dear Brent, I think I have different point of view about this question, especially in the change of "no amount of sunshine" VS "neither vast amount of sunshine".

1. "No amount of sunshine can help provide the crop yield..."
It means that whatever the amount of sunshine, it will be useless.

2. "Neither vast amount of sunshine can help provide the crop yield..."
It means that maybe a little amount of sunshine can help.

Based on this approach, I first eliminated the answer B and D. How do you think?

Thanks in advance!
gmat-admin's picture

Great question! I can 100% see what you mean; it does seem that "Neither vast amount of sunshine can help..." implies a small amount of sunshine might help.

However, think about it this way. Let's say that Joe is an honest police officer who cannot be bribed.

So, I might say, "Neither vast amounts of money nor physical threats will dissuade Joe from doing the right thing."

So, vast amounts of money won't work. Does this mean a small amount of money might work? No.

Is it correct if I change " number of "to "a number of"in answer B?
gmat-admin's picture

Your question concerns the difference between THE (definite article) and A (indefinite article)

So, for example, if I ask you to "Hand me THE pencil," I'm referring to one SPECIFIC pencil.

If I ask you to "Hand me A pencil," I'm referring to ANY pencil.

The usage of THE in the sentence (in the above video question) is somewhat tricky, because it SEEMS to be referring to ANY amount of sunshine. However, it is actually referring to a wide variety of SPECIFIC amounts of sunshine.

So, for example, 12 hours of sunshine will not be enough to make the farm financially viable.

Likewise, 50 hours of sunshine will not be enough.

And 100 hours of sunshine will not be enough.


In other words, THE amount of sunshine will not be enough.

IMPORTANT: I've never seen a question on the GMAT that requires you to know how to properly use THE and A, so don't worry about it.

Hi Brent! Maybe it's cultural... but "Neither vast amounts of sunshine nor number of workers"... sounded to me as if it meant "Nor number of workers"... Doesn't matter if it is "1,2,1000"... Wouldn't that make sense? For instance "No number of soldiers is going to fix this situation" - Isn't that sentence correct?

Oh! Sorry I think I just understood it. Basically if I switch "Concluded that neither number of workers nor vast amounts of sunshine can help..." then it is easier for me to see that "number of workers" on its own is not enough.
gmat-admin's picture

Okay, sounds good.

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