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Unlike a hurricane, which can be observed from within, a tornado is so small that such a study has not been practical.

(A) that such a study has not been practical

(B) that studying it that way has not been impractical

(C) for such studies as this to have been impractical

(D) as to not make such a study practical

(E) as to be impractical of study

The correct solving of the above task from the test is supposed to be E. I do not understand why the adjective "impractical" is used in the sentence. It would make me sense when using "practical". I suppose that this sentence asserts that tornado is too small to be examined with a practical effect. Is the subordinate clause of purpose?

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    "The correct answer to the above question" - what question?
    – Kreiri
    Feb 19, 2015 at 16:22
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    A simply repeats the cited context. C is very poor, if not ungrammatical. D is valid but "awkward", and E is a very unlikely, somewhat "archaic" construction. The only sensible choice if you don't like the original is B. But what is the question? Feb 19, 2015 at 16:26
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    @FumbleFingers uh ... B means the opposite . . . Aug 19, 2015 at 0:09
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    @StoneyB: I scarcely remember making that comment, but looking at it again now, I suspect I may simply not have noticed the fact that each alternative features one of the negations [not] make, [not] been, [im]practical. Except B - which has two such negations, effectively cancelling each other out. Aug 19, 2015 at 12:11

2 Answers 2

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(E) is definitely not correct.

(A) is correct, and follows the pattern "so [adjective] that".

(B) is grammatically correct but has a double negative, which changes the meaning of the sentence. Since the sentence starts with:

Unlike a hurricane, which can be observed from within...

the change is not likely to be correct.

(C) doesn't work after "so small". Also, "impractical" is negative, which changes the meaning of the sentence. A correct version would be:

...a tornado is too small for a study such as this to have been practical.

(D) might be correct grammar, but it sounds odd. This phrasing is more complicated than (A), and there's no reason to use it.

(E) is simply wrong. "[Adjective] of [noun]" is not correct English.

EDIT: There are a couple cases where "[adjective] of [noun]" is correct. If the noun is plural, you can make a superlative:

Only the most heroic of knights are willing to fight a dragon.

The King of France lived in Versailles, that most splendid of palaces.

There's also an archaic/poetic case, which is closer to (E):

strong of body = strong, strong-bodied, having a strong body

kind of heart = kind, kind-hearted, having a kind heart

fleet of foot = fleet, fleet-footed, having a fleet foot = fast at running

But (E) doesn't fit this pattern. We wouldn't say that a tornado is "impractical-studied", or that it has an impractical study.

In the comments, stangdon gives a use of "impractical of collection" in a legal context. But all of the (few) uses of the phrase I found via Google appear to refer to the same law. The only uses of "impractical of study" on Google are this GMAT (?) question. So I think it's safe to say that (E) is not correct.

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    I disagree that E is "definitely not correct". It's an unusual construction, but the meaning is perfectly clear, and it is not wrong. It is found, for example, in the US Code of Federal Regulations: "This account shall be charged with any amounts which have been found to be impractical of collection."
    – stangdon
    Feb 19, 2015 at 17:44
  • I don't see any other uses of that phrase on Google, though. And there are no uses of "impractical of study" aside from references to this test question. I updated my answer with some other cases where "[adjective] of [noun]" is correct.
    – Adam Haun
    Feb 19, 2015 at 20:07
  • Which phrase exactly? "impractical of Y" is, while slightly old-fashioned, not wrong. Here's "impractical of development". Here's "impractical of enforcement". Here's "impractical of manufacture".
    – stangdon
    Feb 19, 2015 at 23:03
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    I was talking about "impractical of collection". The examples you're giving are in a legal context, the phrasing appears to be at least a century old, and there are very few pages on Google that contain them. I've never taken the GMAT, but it seems odd to have a standardized test for business school applicants require knowledge of archaic legal phrasing.
    – Adam Haun
    Feb 19, 2015 at 23:19
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A is correct as written, but wouldn't be the choice I would make if I wrote it.

The closest to my choice would be E) as to be impractical of study which sounds more polished, in my opinion.

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    Please edit to include an explanation of why this is correct, and why the book's answer is wrong; answers without explanation do not teach the patterns of the language well. Oct 18, 2015 at 5:32

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