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Simplifying Complex Sentences

Chris Lele
Lesson by Chris Lele
Magoosh Expert
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Okay, we have here, a very long sentence. For the most part ETS, the people who write the GRE, they do not want you to read and make sense of every single word, starting here with throughout, going all the way down to a single period. Notice that in of itself, this is five lines or at least four and a half lines, which is very long.

So what do they want you to do? Well, in the previous video, we learned about breaking down a sentence is often very important. However, what's equally important is to know when to get rid of the extra words, what I call verbiage. So it's good word to know.

Verbiage, what are we gonna do with verbiage, the extra words? We're going to get rid of the verbiage. So let's read the sentence and see what the verbiage is. So, first off, you want to ignore the names, facts and figures. We had this person throughout their authorial career. They wrote books such as the Sound and The Fury.

And then their latest or their last novel the Pulitzer Prize winning work, The Reivers. Look at all these facts, these figures, names of books. Finally, we get to the author himself, William Faulkner. But you know what, none of that, nothing, not a single word is important. It could be anyone.

We are looking for what? We are looking for the clue, we're honing in on it. Where is it in this mess of words in our verbiage swamp? Well, we get to the point where he shunned. That's the first important word we have to know. To shun is to avoid something.

He avoided certain sentences. What sort of sentences? Well, he would sometimes write an entire page without using a single period. Really, those are some pretty long sentences. Imagine no period, just one long sentence going on with the entire page. Maybe you have a lot of semicolons, but no full stop.

So we know that he likes to use very long sentences, but the word in the blank is not long because of the word shunned. He did not avoid long sentences. He avoided short sentences. Notice I again, I am putting in my own word and then matching that word with the answer choices which word means short?

Well, the very first word, if something is concise it is to the point that definitely means short. And just like that, I'm able to get to the answer without having to wade through again the morass of words above, just like that there is my answer. Of course there a couple of trap answers here, as well. People might think, hey, look at B, it's vague, his work must be vague, his writing is vague, because he uses such long sentences.

But again, he's not necessarily avoiding that. Is he avoiding a rambling style? Well, it sounds like he's using a long and rambling style. So again, knowing the word shunned is important. And, of course, nothing in here is showing us that it's controversial. And labyrinthine, sounds like a labyrinth which is a maze, a twisting maze.

And we know, we simply want a word that means short. That word is concise. And just like that, we've broken down or gotten through all the verbiage, focused on the clue, and arrived at the correct answer. Okay, looks like we have another monstrous, mammoth sentence here. This one, wow, looks like it's going all the way up to five lines.

So is that bad news? Well, not necessarily good news. But again, you see titles, you see names. Not important. Break it down. I don't care about the names of the works, it's Friedrich Nietzsche, is how you pronounce it.

But that's also something that's a tongue twister that's only gonna slow you down. Here we go. It's very similar to the last sentence or last text completions. Shunning a style. Now we're avoiding a blank style. So this time we should definitely get it right.

So what did he do? Well, instead he liberally employed, so he used, employed means to use. Used the use of aphorisms. So, liberally employed the use of aphorisms and pithy paragraphs. So, again, a lot of verbiage going on, we just have to know what do any of these words mean.

So if you don't know aphorisms or pithy, it could be little bit difficult, or could it? That's why don't despair. You wanna read the entire sentence style, his origins can be traced. Again, we're talking about the style, what is the style? Its origins can be traced to ancient texts.

So what sort of style would he avoid then if he's copying ancient style? Well, he would avoid a modern style. So again, we honed in on the clue. We broke down a sentence. It didn't really need too much breaking down here. We found more the clues, but it was where were the clues.

We could of got hung up with the aphorism or could have been hung up with the pithy, words you maybe don't know. But we found words we did know. And then we are gonna come up with our own word which is modern and then we'll match this word with the answer choices. So terse, if something is terse, it's straight to the point.

We want modern, so that's gone. Now there's controversial. If something is controversial, it upsets a lot of people. Not the same as modern. What about contemporary? When something is contemporary, it's of this time, it's modern, and just like that you have the right answer.

Of course unknown and proper, neither mean modern. However, this is still a very difficult text completion, because of the verbiage. For instance, aphorisms are short sayings. Well, what if you had stopped right there? And said, hey, short sayings. So therefore, we need a word that means short sayings.

It must be terse. But again, he avoided a style, instead liberally used these short things. So he's not to say avoiding a terse style, he's using a terse style. But that's not what the sentence is testing. It's testing the idea of ancient text. So again, always read the entire sentence.

Try to come up with your own words based on what you know. If you can't always come up with your words, you can sometimes match the clue. Here, we see the word ancient and therefore, it's avoiding a certain style that would be the opposite of ancient. And so, we get contemporary. And therefore, we've been able to break through the verbiage and get the right answer.

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Text Completion - Overview