This GMAT sample question is a verbal sentence correction practice question testing your understanding of w usage.
Question 15: Given that Agatha Christie wrote 66 novels and 14 short story collections, all of which are still in print in multiple formats and dozens of languages, sceptics would be well advised to admit defeat on the issue of whether or not she sold more books than any other novelist ever has.
Look for differences across the answer options to identify what is being tested in the sentence.
Different options use different constructions for “defeat”.
Some of the options use “any other novelist” and some use the construction “every other novelist”.
Some of the options use “whether” and some use the construction “whether or not”.
Agatha Christie has written many books that are still being published, so it makes no sense to argue that she has not sold more books than others have.
Some of the options are ending with the construction “any other novelist ever has” and others end with “every other novelist”. What is the intent of this part of the sentence? We are trying to determine whether Agatha Christie has sold more books than others have. The intention of the sentence is to compare the verb “sold” and so, the correct construction of the sentence has to have the verb on both sides of the comparison. Ideally, we need to say that “Agatha Christie sold more books than others have sold", but in general, when the verb takes a supportive “have” or “be” verb, it is enough if the supportive verb (in this case “has”) is repeated.
When presenting two possibilities, which is what we are doing in this sentence (either Christie sold more books or she did not), the correct usage is “whether”. The “or not” or negative possibility of the event not happening is already implied when you say “whether”. Use “whether or not” only when you mean “no matter what”.
Options (B) and (D) can be eliminated for the incorrect comparison. There is no verb to complete the comparison.
Option (B) can also be eliminated for the usage “be defeated”. The sentence, if you look at the part that is not underlined as well, states “sceptics would be well advised to be defeated”. This construction does not make sense. How can we tell a group of people to be defeated? We can tell them to accept that they have been defeated though. So option (E) can be eliminated as well.
The difference between option (A) and option (C) is the usage “whether or not” and “whether”. Eliminate option (A) because in this sentence “whether or not” is incorrect.
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