“Because” versus “In That” on GMAT

Through this short video, understand and apply the usage of "Because" versus "In That" on the GMAT sentence correction questions.

"Because" versus "In That" on GMAT

Idioms are a particularly challenging part of the GMAT syllabus. Idioms are certain phrases that must be used in particular ways and what makes them so challenging is that there is not much logical reasoning behind them; they are simply arbitrary rules of grammar that you must memorize to identify incorrect sentence correction answer choices on the GMAT. In this short article, we will cover the correct usage of two idioms, "because" and "in that".

Difference between the use of "Because" and "In That"

The word "because" is used to indicate a cause-effect relationship, while the phrase "in that" is used to reflect an intrinsic property, of a person or thing. This concept can best be illustrated through the following examples.

Example 1 - Jack is wise in that he stays calm under pressure.
To stay calm under pressure is an intrinsic property, a quality that this sentence informs us that Jack possesses. Thus, the use of "in that" is appropriate and this sentence is correct. If the sentence utilized "because" in place of "in that" it would be incorrect.

Example 2 - Jack won the game because he stayed calm under pressure.
In this sentence, there is a clear cause and effect relationship, staying calm under pressure was what cause Jack to win the game. Thus, "because" is the right term to use and this sentence is correct. In such a case, the phrase "in that" would not be the correct usage.

A Helpful Tip

While answering GMAT sentence correction questions, if you are confused between the usage of "because" and "in that", remember that on the GMAT, the correct answer will typically be "in that". The GMAT's preference for "in that" stems from the fact that in sentences where "because" is the correct usage, "in that" tends to come across as awkward, but the reverse is not true. To illustrate, let us use "in that" in Example 2:

Example 3 - Jack won the game in that he stayed calm under pressure.
Example 3 is clearly very awkward but if we use "because" in Example 1, it does not sound wrong; observe:

Example 4 - Jack is wise because he stays calm under pressure.
Thus, on the GMAT "because" is often used as a trap where "in that" is the appropriate choice but not vice-versa.

This article has deliberately been kept brief; for a more elaborate explanation, please refer to Experts' Global's Stage One Sentence Correction videos.

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