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If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago

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If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2013, 21:31
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Question Stats:

33% (01:42) correct 67% (00:40) wrong based on 96 sessions
If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago, hardly anyone would have understood a word of it.

A. was written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
B. were written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
C. had been written 500 years ago, hardly anybody
D. were written 500 years ago, hardly anybody
E. had written 500 years ago, hardly anyone

I came across this question in the economist gmat tutor exercise and thought of this as a good question.
What I could not understand was that why option B is incorrect.
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Re: If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago [#permalink] New post 13 Nov 2013, 00:03
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Hello akhil911

I'm glad to help.

Basic grammar rules of If-then structure.

1. True in present:
If Subject + present tense, then Subject + will + verb

2. NOT true in present (hypothetical)
IF subject + past tense, then Subject + WOULD + verb
Note: always use "WERE" rather than "was" for auxiliary verb

3. NOT true in the PAST
IF subject + Past Perfect, then subject + WOULD + HAVE + past participle

APPLY TO THE QUESTION:

If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago, hardly anyone would have understood a word of it.

Note: pleas see the NON-underlined part "would have understood" <-- signal of structure - Not true in the PAST.

A. was written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
Wrong.

B. were written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
Wrong. If "were" is correct, the non-underlined part must be "would understand". But the non-underlined part is "would have understood".

C. had been written 500 years ago, hardly anybody
Correct.

D. were written 500 years ago, hardly anybody
Wrong. Same error as in B.

E. had written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
Wrong. The novel can't write, it must be written <-- we need passive voice here.

Hope it helps.
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Re: If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago [#permalink] New post 16 Nov 2013, 03:28
pqhai wrote:
Hello akhil911

I'm glad to help.

Basic grammar rules of If-then structure.

1. True in present:
If Subject + present tense, then Subject + will + verb

2. NOT true in present (hypothetical)
IF subject + past tense, then Subject + WOULD + verb
Note: always use "WERE" rather than "was" for auxiliary verb

3. NOT true in the PAST
IF subject + Past Perfect, then subject + WOULD + HAVE + past participle

APPLY TO THE QUESTION:

If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago, hardly anyone would have understood a word of it.

Note: pleas see the NON-underlined part "would have understood" <-- signal of structure - Not true in the PAST.

A. was written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
Wrong.

B. were written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
Wrong. If "were" is correct, the non-underlined part must be "would understand". But the non-underlined part is "would have understood".

C. had been written 500 years ago, hardly anybody
Correct.

D. were written 500 years ago, hardly anybody
Wrong. Same error as in B.

E. had written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
Wrong. The novel can't write, it must be written <-- we need passive voice here.

Hope it helps.



The question seems to have subjunctive mood, so why use of "were" is incorrect here?
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Re: If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago [#permalink] New post 16 Nov 2013, 13:07
Expert's post
As written above it is precisely because of the conditional mood that the "was"needs to be changed to "were" in the condition part of the sentence.

In addition, please do not forget these other possibilities for the conditional:

In the 1st conditional you may also have this: If + Present tense // Present tense

This is in effect a 'zero' conditional and is either used to depict something of a generalization/truth or a person's description of his/her character (for example)

EG If we use greener technologies at home, we save 75% on utilities bills
or
If I am given a present, I always give one back

3rd conditional structure: Had +v3 //would + have + V3

eg Had he known of the construction project beforehand, he would have taken another route to work

ALSO be aware of UNLESS sentences, also a type of conditional:

eg Unless he swims every day, he does not feel healthy.
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Re: If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago   [#permalink] 16 Nov 2013, 13:07
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If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago

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