Surpassed only vs only surpassed - understanding : GMAT Sentence Correction (SC)
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# Surpassed only vs only surpassed - understanding

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Surpassed only vs only surpassed - understanding [#permalink]

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26 Feb 2014, 06:58
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Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer
(a) ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, surpassed only
(b) rank as the nation's third leading cause of death, only surpassed
(c) has the rank of the nation's third leading cause of death, only surpassed
(d) are the nation's third leading causes of death, surpassed only
(e) have been ranked as the nation's third leading causes of death, only surpassed

[Reveal] Spoiler:
I understand why the official answer is correct in the question and dont have a problem is that.
However my question is regarding the usage of surpassed only and only surpassed.
As per the OG explanation , "Placed before surpassed , only would more ambiguously limit surpassed."
I am not able to understand this.
To give an example , is there any difference in the following two sentences.

1. Diabetes ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer.
2. Diabetes ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, only surpassed by heart disease and cancer.

Kindly explain my doubt here !!!!
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

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Re: Surpassed only vs only surpassed - understanding [#permalink]

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27 Feb 2014, 02:54
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akhil911 wrote:
Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer
(a) ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, surpassed only
(b) rank as the nation's third leading cause of death, only surpassed
(c) has the rank of the nation's third leading cause of death, only surpassed
(d) are the nation's third leading causes of death, surpassed only
(e) have been ranked as the nation's third leading causes of death, only surpassed

I understand why the official answer is correct in the question and dont have a problem is that.
However my question is regarding the usage of surpassed only and only surpassed.
As per the OG explanation , "Placed before surpassed , only would more ambiguously limit surpassed."
I am not able to understand this.
To give an example , is there any difference in the following two sentences.

1. Diabetes ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer.
2. Diabetes ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, only surpassed by heart disease and cancer.

Kindly explain my doubt here !!!!

Hi Akhil,

Here's the difference in usage.

1. When "only" is placed before "surpassed", it modifies "surpassed".
2. When "only" is placed before "by heart disease and cancer", it modifies "by heart disease and cancer".

Where we place "only" depends on the intended meaning of the sentence. Let's look at a couple of examples before we address this question.

1. Yesterday, I went only to the museum.

Meaning: I didn't go anywhere else yesterday - only to the museum.

2. Yesterday, I only went to the museum.

Here, "only" modifies the action "went". So the meaning of this sentence is: I didn't do anything yesterday except go to the museum.

In this question, the writer means to say that diabetes is surpassed only by two other diseases in terms of the number of deaths it causes. So, we want "only" to refer to these two diseases, and not to "surpassed".

This is a fairly subtle differentiation in terms of meaning. In official sentences, there are usually other ways to eliminate options with such problems. For example, option C in this question can also be eliminated on the basis of wordiness.

I hope this helps to clarify your doubt.

Regards,
Meghna
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Re: Surpassed only vs only surpassed - understanding [#permalink]

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27 May 2015, 04:31
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Re: Surpassed only vs only surpassed - understanding [#permalink]

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21 Feb 2016, 05:33
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akhil911 wrote:
Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer
(a) ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, surpassed only
(b) rank as the nation's third leading cause of death, only surpassed
(c) has the rank of the nation's third leading cause of death, only surpassed
(d) are the nation's third leading causes of death, surpassed only
(e) have been ranked as the nation's third leading causes of death, only surpassed

Diabetes is singular. Hence eliminate B,D, & E [Numbers of Noun and Verb should match. hence eliminating]

Between A and C

C has two problem
First problem is with the modifier "Only" which modifies the meaning completely.
Another problem is that "Has the rank". Diabetes has ranked - makes sense when compared to "Has the rank" which doesn't make sense.
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Re: Surpassed only vs only surpassed - understanding [#permalink]

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21 Feb 2016, 10:35
sowragu wrote:
akhil911 wrote:
Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer
(a) ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, surpassed only
(b) rank as the nation's third leading cause of death, only surpassed
(c) has the rank of the nation's third leading cause of death, only surpassed
(d) are the nation's third leading causes of death, surpassed only
(e) have been ranked as the nation's third leading causes of death, only surpassed

Diabetes is singular. Hence eliminate B,D, & E [Numbers of Noun and Verb should match. hence eliminating]

Between A and C

C has two problem
First problem is with the modifier "Only" which modifies the meaning completely.
Another problem is that "Has the rank". Diabetes has ranked - makes sense when compared to "Has the rank" which doesn't make sense.

A further note:
"has the rank of" means "has the position of". As described in the above post, this usage is meaningless.
Re: Surpassed only vs only surpassed - understanding   [#permalink] 21 Feb 2016, 10:35
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