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I have been reading this board for quite some time and it has proved to be very helpful. I was wondering if anybody could help me with the following two SC. Both of 'em test the concept of "like" vs "as" and somehow it is driving me crazy. My basic understanding that "like" is used for nouns and "as" for verbs somehow doesn't work here. Any comments are highly appreciated. Thanks!

24. During an ice age, the buildup of ice at the poles and the drop in water levels near the equator speed up the Earth’s rotation, like a spinning figure skater whose speed increases when her arms are drawn in.

(A) like a spinning figure skater whose speed increases when her arms are drawn in
(B) like the increased speed of a figure skater when her arms are drawn in
(C) like a figure skater who increases speed while spinning with her arms drawn in
(D) just as a spinning figure skater who increases speed by drawing in her arms
(E) just as a spinning figure skater increases speed by drawing in her arms

More than thirty years ago Dr. Barbara McClintock, the Nobel Prize winner, reported that genes can “jump” as pearls moving mysteriously from one necklace to another.

(A) as pearls moving mysteriously from one necklace to another
(B) like pearls moving mysteriously from one necklace to another
(C) as pearls do that move mysteriously from one necklace to others
(D) like pearls do that move mysteriously from one necklace to others
(E) as do pearls that move mysteriously from one necklace to some other one

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During an ice age, the building of ice at the poles and the drop in water levels speed up the earth's rotation, like a figure skater who increases speed while spinning with her arms drawn in.

A: like a figure skater who increases speed while spinning with her arms drawn in
B: just as a spinning figure skater increases speed by drawing in her arms
Hi there! Welcome!

First off, it's always more helpful to other visitors if you can post all the answer choices, even though many people will be stuck between the same two that you chose.

In class here at TestMagic, I encounter such questions routinely; in fact, questions of this type are the most commonly missed questions, and believe it or not, there's a rather simple explanation for why one is wrong and another is right.

Let me ask you a question--when you think about this question, and you think about what's being compared, do you think that it's simply two nouns, or do you think that it's two similar nouns doing similar actions? If it's the latter, we must go with "as," the subordinating conjunction, i.e, the only one that can introduce a sentence.

In this question, the answer to my question seems logical, but in the next it will be more difficult to answer. So, in anticipation of the next question, let me ask you one more thing--in this SC are we comparing simply two nouns or are we comparing two nouns, each with its own verb?

I think in this particular SC it seems *fairly* clear that we are comparing two nouns with two actions, so we should use "as."

So let's look at the next one, which I believe will be a tad more difficult...

More than thirty years ago Dr. Barb, the Noble Prize winner reported that genes can jump, as perals do that move from one necklace to another.

A: as perals do that move from one necklace to another
B: like pearls from one necklace to another

• Genes can jump like pearls.
or

• Genes can jump as pearls do.
Would you agree that the latter sentence sounds a bit stilted?

Try these sentences:

• She walks like duck.
or

• She walks like a duck does.

Just in case, let's try one more:

• Why are you acting like a fool??
or

• Why are you acting as a fool does??
Okay, you might have gotten the point by now, but let's compare sentences.

More than thirty years ago Dr. Barbara McClintock, the Nobel Prize winner, reported that genes can “jump” as pearls moving mysteriously from one necklace to another.

You must agree that

as pearls moving.

sounds terrible!!

Let's try again:

More than thirty years ago Dr. Barbara McClintock, the Nobel Prize winner, reported that genes can “jump” as pearls move mysteriously from one necklace to another.

Aaarrgghhh!!! This one's bad because "as" has another meaning here--at the same time. It sounds like the genes are jumping at the same time that the pearls are jumping.

Let's try again...

More than thirty years ago Dr. Barbara McClintock, the Nobel Prize winner, reported that genes can “jump” as pearls do that move from one necklace to another.

This answer, with all due respect, is completely ungrammatical:

"as pearls do" is actually a complete sentence; it should NOT be followed by anything else, don't you agree? Think about it--we could end the sentence there, couldn't we? Yes, we could. So that means we cannot add "that move from one necklace to another" (a noun clause) after it. We could add an adjective/adjective clause, an adverb/adverb clause, but we canNOT add a noun/noun clause.

Whew!!!

Actually, there is so much grammar here that I could explain... If you have any specific questions, I can answer them.

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Man, you rock Erin. That was a great explaination. Wish you could start your TestMagic in Los Angeles......

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Excellent explanation!
Erin, What a wonderful man.

I have been extremely bussssssssssssy for the past couple of weeks. and did not get a chance to visit this site. Hope I did not miss anything important.

Lee Shi

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Man, you rock Erin. That was a great explaination. Wish you could start your TestMagic in Los Angeles......

Hey, thanks for the feedback! As for LA, it's in my long-term plans!

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She Li, where've you been?? Long time no see! Welcome back, hope your GMAT is still going well.

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Hi Erin,
Pleeaaaaassssseeeeeee pardon me if I sound foolish :o but I have to clear my doubts.....
From what you have explained (& it is wonderful as usual), would I be very wrong to draw the following conclusion:
When one is comparing two nouns performing two SIMILAR actions than one uses ‘as’ & if the comparison is between two nouns performing the SAME action, the usage is ‘like’? I hope you won't laugh......
Thanks,
ash

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I was on a bussssy business trip earlier. When I came back, I realized my Sentence Correction skills drop dramaticly. I was supposed to take the GMAT in August, but I am having a second thought now.

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Hi Erin,
Pleeaaaaassssseeeeeee pardon me if I sound foolish :o but I have to clear my doubts.....
No question is ever too simple!!
From what you have explained (& it is wonderful as usual), would I be very wrong to draw the following conclusion:
When one is comparing two nouns performing two SIMILAR actions than one uses ‘as’ & if the comparison is between two nouns performing the SAME action, the usage is ‘like’? I hope you won't laugh......
Thanks,
ash
First of all, I should say that just about any GMAT grammar rule will have some exception. For this reason, I prefer not to refer to "English grammar rules" but to "GMAT patterns." As I'm sure you're aware, it's very difficult to give a pattern that applies in every case.

I would say that generally speaking, your summary is good, but just to be sure, I want to restate:

Use like when you want to focus on two nouns;

Use as when you want to focus on two nouns doing two actions.

Another little trick is that "just as" can replace "in the same way that..."

Let's compare two very similar sentences that could cause confusion:

My Siamese cat moved across the floor just like a lion stalking its prey.

To me, this sentence stresses how two different cats are similar. I know this is confusing because we have a noun, "lion" and a participle "stalking," which would seem to indicate that we should use "as," but it's just not so.

In this sentence, do you think we're tying to say

My Siamese cat moved across the floor in the way that a lion stalks its prey.

I don't think so...

My Siamese cat moved across the floor just as a lion stalks its prey.

This one sounds bad to me, I think because we are not explaining how the cat is moving. Furthermore, at some point, we are going to run into some ambiguity--"as" does also mean "at the same time," and I also think that the sentence above does sound a bit like two things are happening at the same time.

Let's look at a better sentence:

My Siamese cat moved across the floor just as a lion stalking its prey moves.

This one sounds very good to me; it explains how a my cat moved.

Furthermore, it has the same meaning as:

My Siamese cat moved across the floor in the way that a lion stalking its prey moves.

This particular point is always, always asked by my students. I'm sure some of you have more questions; if so, please ask!! I'm sure they'll be helpful. And, if possible, please post sample sentences.

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Thanks a lot Erin.....you have some stamina.........