Although various eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American poets had professed an interest in Native American poetry and had pretended to imitate Native American forms in their own works, until almost 1900, scholars and critics did not begin seriously to study traditional Native American poetry in native languages.
(A) until almost 1900, scholars and critics did not begin seriously to study
(B) until almost 1900 scholars and critics had not begun seriously studying
(C) not until almost 1900 were scholars and critics to begin seriously to study
(D) it was not almost until 1900 when scholars and critics began to seriously study
(E) it was not until almost 1900 that scholars and critics seriously began studying
Can you explain the use of prepositional phrases in the above question.
When you post a SC question, please list the source and the OA. Here, I believe the source is GMAT Prep, and I believe the OA is (E)
Here's the original version, with all the prepositional phrases highlighted. Although various eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American poets had professed an interest in Native American poetry and had pretended to imitate Native American forms in their own works, until almost 1900, scholars and critics did not begin seriously to study traditional Native American poetry in native languages
Most of the preposition phrases there are relatively unremarkable ---- "in Native American poetry
", "in their own works
", "in native language
" ---- I will assume you have no questions about those three.
One of the tricky parts of the questions concerns the word "until
". The word "until" can be used both as a preposition or as a conjunction, which can confuse folks ---- here, there's not split in which it is being used as a conjunction, so that's not the issue here. The issue concerns the words "until
" and "almost
" and "1900
" and "not
", and the correct order of these.
When "until" is used as a preposition, it's object is always a time of some kinduntil 4:00 pm
until next Tuesday
until night fall
until the end of the movie
Here, "1900" is a time, and "almost 1900" is also a time --- either could be the object of "until", and in context, it must be the latter. Four of the five answers have the three words "until almost 1900
" together --- only (D)
doesn't, but (D)
is trainwreck wrong. You see, the crucial issue has to do with the placement of the word "not" --- what does not modify? We want to say ---- there was an action X (i.e. seriously studying traditional Native American poetry in native languages
), and before around 1900, nobody did X, but starting around 1900, people started to do X. That's what we are trying to say. It would be correct to say either...until almost 1900, scholars and critics did not begin to study ....
or we could say ---- ...it was not until almost 1900 that scholars and critics seriously began studying....
The first is (A)
without the word "seriously
" --- that is a hard word to place correctly in that arrangement --- we don't want to put it in between "not" and "begin", because then the word "not' would modify the word "seriously" instead of the whole phrase. Similarly, in (D)
, the word "not" modifies the word "almost", and not the whole phrase. The second sentence here is (E)
, the OA.
It appears that you don't really have questions about prepositions per se
--- you have questions about proper word order
with prepositions & adverbs & "not" and so forth. Does this make sense?
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