His studies of ice-polished rocks in his Alpine homeland, far outside the range of present-day glaciers, led Louis Agassiz in 1837 to propose the concept of an age in which great ice sheets had existed in now currently temperate areas
It is very important to understand the meaning of this sentence in order to ascertain whether we need past perfect tense in this sentence or not. In 1837, Louis Agassiz proposed the concept of an age in which great ice sheets existed in those areas that are now temperate areas. His studies of ice-polished rocks in his Alpine homeland, far outside the range of present-day glaciers led Agassiz to make this proposal.
We use past perfect tense to establish sequencing, that is to show out of two events in the past, which event took place earlier and which took place later. It is true that there are two events in this sentence and both took place in the past – “led” and “had existed”.
However when we use past perfect tense, we must keep in mind that in order to establish sequencing between the two events, they must be related. There should be some bearing of one event on the other.
In this sentence, Agassiz proposed the concept of ice age in 1837. And this age actually existed long time ago. However, what we must may heed is that even if Agassiz did not propose the concept of ice age, the fact does not change that ice age still existed. It is not that because Agassiz proposed the concept of ice age, that age came into being. Hence, existence of ice age has no bearing on the proposal of the concept. Hence, we have two independent actions here between which sequencing is just not required.Error Analysis:
1. Since existence of ice age is a universal fact and did not depend upon the proposal of its concept, use of “had existed” is incorrect. We need simple past tense here.
2. In the presence of “now” already, “currently” is redundant.POE:Choice A:
in which great ice sheets had existed in now currently temperate areas: Incorrect
for the reasons stated above.Choice B:
in which great ice sheets existed in what are now temperate areas: Correct.
Simple past tense establishes the fact that ice age did exist.Choice C:
when great ice sheets existed where there were areas now temperate: Incorrect.
The temperate areas are still there. Using past tense “were” is incorrect.Choice D:
when great ice sheets had existed in current temperate areas: Incorrect.
Same verb tense error as in Choice A. Choice E:
when great ice sheets existed in areas now that are temperate: Incorrect.
The phrasing is not correct here. It should be “areas that are now temperate”.PS
– Use of both “in what” and “when” is correct in the context of this sentence.
1. Use past perfect tense only to establish sequencing between two related events.
2. Avoid redundancy in answer choices.
3. Be wary of the changes in the word that appear in the original sentence. These changes may lead to change in the meaning.
Hope this helps.
Here after 'age', don't you think 'when' is a better usage rather than 'in which' as 'age' indicates a time period in this question I think and when it's time 'when' suits better than anything else...
So the reason we select B over other choices is because rest of the options have other major errors. Right?
Look forward to hearing from you.