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A recent and popular self-help book wryly notes that if

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A recent and popular self-help book wryly notes that if [#permalink]

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A recent and popular self-help book wryly notes that if adolescence was not so painful, it would have a droll comedic aspect, at least in retrospect.

A) was not so painful, it
B) was not so painful, they
C) were not so painful, they
D) were not so painful, it
E) were not so painful, being one
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
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Re: adolescence "were"?? [#permalink]

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I think it has to do with the "if" before adolescence.

Adolescence was not so painful

If adolescence were not so painful
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Re: adolescence "were"?? [#permalink]

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sk88 wrote:
A recent and popular self-help book wryly notes that if adolescence was not so painful, it would have a droll comedic aspect, at least in retrospect.

was not so painful, it

was not so painful, they

were not so painful, they

were not so painful, it

were not so painful, being one


The correct choice is D and the answer explanation says that adolescence is singular (so we use 'it'), but why do we use "were" instead of "was" if it's singular?? What is were referring to anyway?


good question... I too went for A at first glance, but realized that option D is correct. the sentece is talking about past unreal condition. some thing like this ..

if she were studying, she would pass the exam ...
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Re: adolescence "were"?? [#permalink]

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New post 08 Aug 2009, 21:34
I think it's one of the main structure of if clause that you use when talking about unreal past event and you expect it to turn out differently..

In such structure you will use "were" instead of "was" even for a singular/uncountable noun
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Re: adolescence "were"?? [#permalink]

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New post 08 Aug 2009, 22:00
thanks everyone! I think they called it the "subjunctive" or something like that. But i makes sense to me now if you say "if she were.."
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Re: adolescence "were"?? [#permalink]

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ugimba wrote:
sk88 wrote:
A recent and popular self-help book wryly notes that if adolescence was not so painful, it would have a droll comedic aspect, at least in retrospect.

was not so painful, it

was not so painful, they

were not so painful, they

were not so painful, it

were not so painful, being one


The correct choice is D and the answer explanation says that adolescence is singular (so we use 'it'), but why do we use "were" instead of "was" if it's singular?? What is were referring to anyway?


good question... I too went for A at first glance, but realized that option D is correct. the sentece is talking about past unreal condition. some thing like this ..

if she were studying, she would pass the exam ...




Here is another explanation:

subjunctive mood (indicating a hypothetical state or a state contrary to reality, such as a wish, a desire, or an imaginary situation). It is harder to explain the subjunctive. Five hundred years ago, English had a highly developed subjunctive mood. However, after the fourteenth century, speakers of English used the subjunctive less frequently. Today, the mood has practically vanished; modern speakers tend to use the conditional forms of "could" and "would" to indicate statements contrary to reality. The subjunctive only survives in a few, fossilized examples, so they can be confusing. Here are the most common uses:

1. By far the most common use of the subjunctive is the use of the subjunctive after "if" clauses that state or describe a hypothetical situation.

Subjunctive: "If I were a butterfly, I would have wings."

Note that in the indicative, we normally write, "I was." For instance, "When I was a young boy, I liked to swim." However, to indicate the subjunctive, we write "I were." The subjunctive indicates a statement contrary to fact. In the butterfly example above, I am not really a butterfly, but I am describing a hypothetical situation that might occur if I were one.

Indicative: "When I was a butterfly in a former life, I had wings."
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Re: A recent and popular self-help book wryly notes that if [#permalink]

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Re: A recent and popular self-help book wryly notes that if [#permalink]

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sk88 wrote:
A recent and popular self-help book wryly notes that if adolescence was not so painful, it would have a droll comedic aspect, at least in retrospect.

A) was not so painful, it
B) was not so painful, they
C) were not so painful, they
D) were not so painful, it
E) were not so painful, being one



The question is about subjunctive 'would' . Hence in (A) we need a 'were' instead of 'was'

In (B) and (C), 'they' does not have an antecedent. In (E), being one is incorrect / wordy

D = Correct
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Re: A recent and popular self-help book wryly notes that if [#permalink]

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New post 20 Feb 2016, 20:26
Hello from the GMAT Club VerbalBot!

Thanks to another GMAT Club member, I have just discovered this valuable topic, yet it had no discussion for over a year. I am now bumping it up - doing my job. I think you may find it valuable (esp those replies with Kudos).

Want to see all other topics I dig out? Follow me (click follow button on profile). You will receive a summary of all topics I bump in your profile area as well as via email.
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Re: A recent and popular self-help book wryly notes that if [#permalink]

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New post 22 Jun 2016, 12:58
rahoooli wrote:
ugimba wrote:
sk88 wrote:
A recent and popular self-help book wryly notes that if adolescence was not so painful, it would have a droll comedic aspect, at least in retrospect.

was not so painful, it

was not so painful, they

were not so painful, they

were not so painful, it

were not so painful, being one


The correct choice is D and the answer explanation says that adolescence is singular (so we use 'it'), but why do we use "were" instead of "was" if it's singular?? What is were referring to anyway?


good question... I too went for A at first glance, but realized that option D is correct. the sentece is talking about past unreal condition. some thing like this ..

if she were studying, she would pass the exam ...




Here is another explanation:

subjunctive mood (indicating a hypothetical state or a state contrary to reality, such as a wish, a desire, or an imaginary situation). It is harder to explain the subjunctive. Five hundred years ago, English had a highly developed subjunctive mood. However, after the fourteenth century, speakers of English used the subjunctive less frequently. Today, the mood has practically vanished; modern speakers tend to use the conditional forms of "could" and "would" to indicate statements contrary to reality. The subjunctive only survives in a few, fossilized examples, so they can be confusing. Here are the most common uses:

1. By far the most common use of the subjunctive is the use of the subjunctive after "if" clauses that state or describe a hypothetical situation.

Subjunctive: "If I were a butterfly, I would have wings."

Note that in the indicative, we normally write, "I was." For instance, "When I was a young boy, I liked to swim." However, to indicate the subjunctive, we write "I were." The subjunctive indicates a statement contrary to fact. In the butterfly example above, I am not really a butterfly, but I am describing a hypothetical situation that might occur if I were one.

Indicative: "When I was a butterfly in a former life, I had wings."


Thank you so much for that explanation. At first glance even I fell in to the trap of marking A but realized that there was something wrong with this sentence. Although, not sure about the exact reason it felt like "were" is a better option to go for considering it was a 700+ question :-p. After reading your explanation, now I have a firm reason as to why is this the answer.
Re: A recent and popular self-help book wryly notes that if   [#permalink] 22 Jun 2016, 12:58
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