This GMAT practice question is a sample verbal sentence correction question testing your understanding of word usage and modifiers.
Question 14: Despite smartphones and easy accessibility for social networks, almost half of the millennials – people reaching young adulthood in the 21st century – are feeling isolated and lonely.
Look for differences across the answer options to identify what is being tested in the sentence.
Different options use different constructions for “access”.
Some of the options use “Despite” and some use “Although”.
Many millennials are lonely and isolated even though they are able to easily access social networks.
“Accessibility for” is an incorrect usage. If using “for”, it should be followed by who or what needs accessibility. However, because we are following up with “social networks”, “accessibility to” is the correct usage.
While both “despite” and “Although” constructions can be used to bring out a contrast, there are differences in the rules of usage. “Despite” cannot refer to a verb and refers to the closest noun or pronoun. “Although” has to be followed by a subject and a verb.
Options (A) and (E) can be eliminated for using “accessibility for” and not “accessibility to”.
In option (C), the pronoun is “them” and the meaning of the sentence ends up being “despite the millennials, the millennials are lonely” and makes no sense. Option (C) cab be eliminated.
However, in option (B), only “having… and accessing” are used. Who or what is having the smartphones? The subject is missing and option (B) can be eliminated.
When using a possessive pronoun “their”, the (pro)noun we are discussing is not “their” but “their smartphones” and despite also refers to the “smartphones”. For example, if I said “his house is on fire”, the discussion is about the house and not him. So “their smartphones” is perfectly fine and not the same as using “them”. Choice (D) is correct.
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