According to scientists at the University of California, the : GMAT Sentence Correction (SC)
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# According to scientists at the University of California, the

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07 Apr 2013, 08:09
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According to scientists at the University of California, the pattern of changes that have occurred in human DNA over the millennia indicate the possibility that everyone alive today might be descended from a single female ancestor who lived in Africa sometime between 140,000 and 280,000 years ago.

(A) indicate the possibility that everyone alive today might be descended from a single female ancestor who

(B) indicate that everyone alive today might possibly be a descendant of a single female ancestor who had

(C) may indicate that everyone alive today has descended from a single female ancestor who had

(D) indicates that everyone alive today may be a descendant of a single female ancestor who

(E) indicates that everyone alive today might be a descendant from a single female ancestor who

OA is D..... If OA is D, I think the sentence must be " the pattern of changes that has ocurred ....." indicates that .....

If the non underlined portion reads "the pattern of changes that have occurred... may indicate that" ...because have & indicate are plural.

If subject is pattern and if its singular, has is correct. OA is D
If subject is changes and if its plural, have is correct. OA is C

[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

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07 Apr 2013, 08:22
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Interesting one.

The key thing here is working out what agrees with what.

The main 'subject' of the sentence is 'the pattern' this is singular, so should agree with the main verb 'indicates'

So in D this is correct.

What makes the question difficult is that the 'pattern' (singular) is described as 'changes that have.....' Which is plural. This is what is confusing.

So D is correct as it stands.

Does that help?
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07 Apr 2013, 08:31
plumber250 wrote:

Interesting one.

The key thing here is working out what agrees with what.

The main 'subject' of the sentence is 'the pattern' this is singular, so should agree with the main verb 'indicates'

So in D this is correct.

What makes the question difficult is that the 'pattern' (singular) is described as 'changes that have.....' Which is plural. This is what is confusing.

So D is correct as it stands.

Does that help?

That really helps. After your explanation,the sentence makes sense. Is there any simplistic approach that I can use to tackle these kind of subtle differences?
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07 Apr 2013, 08:40
I think the confusion about have or has is not required in this context because, have is the correct verb, since it is not underlined. (that is why we require to underline the relevant portion so that it always stands before our eyes.). The object of the preposition changes is the subject of that verb. The logical sequence therefore is to identify the main clause and its partner verb. This will lead us to identity 'pattern' as the subject of the main clause , which is singular and thereby the singular verb indicates The verb is rather a little away after the subordinate clause. So D is undisputable choice .
C also has problem in the use of past perfect as the past perfect is simply dangling without the accompaniment of a simple past to logically pinpoint the timeline
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07 Apr 2013, 08:44
Happy to help,

The key thing I always do with any sentence is to establish what the 'main' part of it is . This should always have a subject (noun) and verb identifying those in pretty much every gmat sentence is a god place to start....
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07 Apr 2013, 22:49
plumber250 wrote:

Interesting one.

The key thing here is working out what agrees with what.

The main 'subject' of the sentence is 'the pattern' this is singular, so should agree with the main verb 'indicates'

So in D this is correct.

What makes the question difficult is that the 'pattern' (singular) is described as 'changes that have.....' Which is plural. This is what is confusing.

So D is correct as it stands.

Does that help?

Why not E. Can you explain?

In my opinion might looks more appropriate here.
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07 Apr 2013, 23:30
Hi, This is a 'might vs may' point.

For a general explanation, try here http://oxforddictionaries.com/words/may-or-might

I always try to remember that 'might' is the past tense of 'may'. In this situation we're talking about people alive now, so the present tense 'may' is correct.

Cheers,

James
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Re: subject verb confusion   [#permalink] 07 Apr 2013, 23:30
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