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** A modifier problem **

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** A modifier problem ** [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2009, 03:05
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I would be greatful if someone can explain to me why the modifier at the start of the first sentence is misused, whereas that of the second sentence is not.

1. Based on accounts of various ancient writers, scholars have painted a sketchy picture of the activities of an all-female cult that, perhaps as early as the sixth century BC, worshipped a goddess know in Latin as Bona Dea, "the good goddess."

2. In his research paper, Dr. Frosh, medical director of the Payne Whitney Clinic, distinguishes between mood swings, which may be violent without being grounded in mental disease, and genuine manic-depressive psychosis.

Both sentences are from the official guide of GMAT. The explaination for the first sentence was that the underlined phrase incorrectly modifies the noun "scholar" -- it doesn't explain what the scholars are doing. My question is, why is the second sentence correct then? You can't tell what Dr Frosh is doing in his research paper either by reading the first part of the sentence!

The first sentence seems correct to me if "Based on accounts of..." is modifying the verb "painted". Adverb phrases can modify the whole sentence can't they?

Any helpful comment would be appreciated!
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Re: ** A modifier problem ** [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2009, 09:18
Expert's post
Moved to the appropriate forum
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Re: ** A modifier problem ** [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2009, 11:01
treemonkey wrote:
I would be greatful if someone can explain to me why the modifier at the start of the first sentence is misused, whereas that of the second sentence is not.

1. Based on accounts of various ancient writers, scholars have painted a sketchy picture of the activities of an all-female cult that, perhaps as early as the sixth century BC, worshipped a goddess know in Latin as Bona Dea, "the good goddess."

2. In his research paper, Dr. Frosh, medical director of the Payne Whitney Clinic, distinguishes between mood swings, which may be violent without being grounded in mental disease, and genuine manic-depressive psychosis.

Both sentences are from the official guide of GMAT. The explaination for the first sentence was that the underlined phrase incorrectly modifies the noun "scholar" -- it doesn't explain what the scholars are doing. My question is, why is the second sentence correct then? You can't tell what Dr Frosh is doing in his research paper either by reading the first part of the sentence!

The first sentence seems correct to me if "Based on accounts of..." is modifying the verb "painted". Adverb phrases can modify the whole sentence can't they?

Any helpful comment would be appreciated!


let me try ...

first sentence is saying the scholars have painted 'based on some account' --> you can't paint based on some accts, you paint something on the basis of some things or you paint by using somebody's models ...

so here 'based on' actually not giving the intended meaning. either you can use 'on the basis' or 'using' some thing which makes more meaningful.

Second sentence is perfectly fine.


Hope that helps.
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Re: ** A modifier problem ** [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2009, 11:19
treemonkey wrote:
I would be greatful if someone can explain to me why the modifier at the start of the first sentence is misused, whereas that of the second sentence is not.

1. Based on accounts of various ancient writers, scholars have painted a sketchy picture of the activities of an all-female cult that, perhaps as early as the sixth century BC, worshipped a goddess know in Latin as Bona Dea, "the good goddess."

2. In his research paper, Dr. Frosh, medical director of the Payne Whitney Clinic, distinguishes between mood swings, which may be violent without being grounded in mental disease, and genuine manic-depressive psychosis.

Both sentences are from the official guide of GMAT. The explaination for the first sentence was that the underlined phrase incorrectly modifies the noun "scholar" -- it doesn't explain what the scholars are doing. My question is, why is the second sentence correct then? You can't tell what Dr Frosh is doing in his research paper either by reading the first part of the sentence!

The first sentence seems correct to me if "Based on accounts of..." is modifying the verb "painted". Adverb phrases can modify the whole sentence can't they?

Any helpful comment would be appreciated!


here my attempt to explain:

Sentence 1) Based on accounts of various ancient writers, scholars have painted a sketchy picture of the activities of an all-female cult that, perhaps as early as the sixth century BC, worshipped a goddess know in Latin as Bona Dea, "the good goddess."

In this case, Modifying phrase is "Based on accounts of various ancient writers". It is not Scholar who is based on something.
So it should be either
On the basis of X, Scholar

or

based on X, Scholar's paintings ..

Sentence 2) Is perfectly fine
as
In his research paper is not a modifying phrase but part of the main sentence/clause and "medical director of the Payne Whitney Clinic" is the modifier for Dr. Frosh.
So sentence without modifier will look like:

In his research paper, Dr. Frosh distinguishes between mood swings, which may be violent without being grounded in mental disease, and genuine manic-depressive psychosis

the bolded part is another modifier and sentence can be further reduced to:
In his research paper, Dr. Frosh distinguishes between mood swings and genuine manic-depressive psychosis.

Hope it helped. please correct me if needed.
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Re: ** A modifier problem ** [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2009, 02:12
Thanks so much for both of your replies.
Would I be correct in saying then that the modifier "Based on..." can only modify a noun, (since base is a verb), hence the reason why it can't be used to modify "paint"? And that's why "on the basis of" is more appropriate appropriate in this case?
Re: ** A modifier problem **   [#permalink] 13 Jun 2009, 02:12
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