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Architects and stonemasons, huge palace and temple clusters [#permalink]
21 Jan 2010, 18:48
63% (01:32) correct
36% (00:47) wrong based on 11 sessions
Architects and stonemasons, huge palace and temple clusters were built by the Maya without benefit of the wheel or animal transport. (A) huge palace and temple clusters were built by the Maya without benefit of the wheel or animal transport (B) without the benefits of animal transport or the wheel, huge palace and temple clusters were built by the Maya (C) the Maya built huge palace and temple clusters without the benefit of animal transport or the wheel (D) there were built, without the benefit of the wheel or animal transport, huge palace and temple clusters by the Maya (E) were the Maya who, without the benefit of the wheel or animal transport, built huge palace and temple clusters
Whenever a phrase at the beginning of a sentence is set off by commas, it usually represents a modifying or descriptive phrase. The rule for modifying and descriptive phrases is that they must be as close as possible to the thing that they modify or describe.
So, someone or something in this sentence is described as 'Architects and Stonemasons'. Who or what in this sentence could logically be described that way? The Maya! So since the Maya are architects and stonemasons, the next word after the phrase 'Architects and stonemasons' must be 'the Maya.' That makes (C) the only possible answer.
Remember, when a modifying phrase is set off from the rest of the sentence by commas, the rest of the sentence must read correctly if that descriptive phrase is ignored. Ignoring both of the parts of the sentence isolated by commas, and reading (E) into the sentence, we get "...were the Maya who... built huge palace and temple structures." This is clearly grammatically incorrect.
I never liked this one...seems like a classic example of the GMAT looking for the best answer among fairly poor choices, not exactly the ideal construction. As far as E goes, notice that the first comma is not underlined. Therefore, E can't work because you'd have: "Architects and Stonemasons, were the Maya who." The temptation with E is to make Architects and stonemasons the subject. Clearly if you make Architects and Stonemasons the subject - you can't have the , before were.