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In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to [#permalink]
12 Oct 2010, 16:28
40% (02:36) correct
60% (00:55) wrong based on 72 sessions
In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dictionary more comprehensive than the world had ever seen; although the project would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary had been born.
-would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary had been -took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was -would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was being -would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was -took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was about to be
In what situations do we use WOULD? I rarely came across such constructs. This is from MGMAT. I liked this question. +1 if you like it too.
The past perfect ("had been born") is used when there are two past actions and we want to indicate which one happened first. In the underlined portion of the sentence, however, the other verb, "would take," is not in the past tense, so we need to use the simple past "was born." (Remember that we always use the most simple tenses allowed; the perfect tenses, and other complicated tenses, are used only when required by the sentence structure.) The second half of the sentence stands in contrast to the first half, in which the simple past "launched" is correctly paired with the past perfect "had seen."
(A) This choice is incorrect as it repeats the original sentence.
(B) This choice changes both the first and second verbs to simple past ("took" and "was born," respectively). In this circumstance, we have two events that took place at different times in the past, which requires use of the past perfect to indicate which event happened first. The dictionary's "birth" obviously happens before its completion, so correct usage would be that the "Dictionary had been born."
(C) The present participle "being" is used with the progressive tense to indicate a continuing or ongoing action. Logically, however, the Dictionary's start must have been at a single point in time, rather than over the course of the book's development.
(D) CORRECT. This choice correctly uses the simple past "was born." A more complicated past tense is not required because the other verb "would take," is not in the past tense.
(E) This choice incorrectly adopts the construction "was about to be born," which conflicts with the non-underlined portion of the sentence. The first half of the sentence indicates that the project was "launched" in 1860 in the past tense, making any reference to the book being "about to be born" at some future point in time incorrect.
Re: Dictionary was born - 700+ [#permalink]
15 Oct 2010, 10:22
This post received KUDOS
@daagh, That's a great explanation! We use "would" to describe the future from a past tense point of view, which is the situation we have in this question. This usage isn't super common, but it's definitely good to know and is fair game for testing on the GMAT.
Another situation in which you'd see the "would" construction is with abstract hypothetical situations:
If the two companies merged, the resulting corporation would be unstoppable. If I were rich, I would buy a house in the Bahamas.
In these types of conditional statements, the condition (or "if" statement) will be in the past tense and the result will have "would + verb root".