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# Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon regio

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SVTTCGMAT wrote:
Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon region, it's first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun in Mexico and Central America.

A) it's first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun
B) apparently it was cultivated for its seeds and its pulp beginning
C) it was apparently first cultivated for its seeds and pulp
D) the beginning of its cultivation for seeds and pulp appears to be
E) the first cultivation for it's seeds and pulp appears to have begun

Can anyone explain why E is wrong?

Dear SVTTCGMAT,
I'm happy to respond.

One of the distinctions in this SC problem is the difference between "its" and "it's."

its = possessive of the pronoun "it"

it's = a contraction for "it is"

Thus, if we expand the contraction, (E) says:
...the first cultivation for it is seeds and pulp appears to have begun ...
That is nonsensical and not what the author was trying to say. The author was trying to put a possessive pronoun there, so the author should have used "its."

Notice that
1) essentially ALL possessive nouns have an apostrophe (e.g. Mike's, women's, America's, my car's, the team's, etc.)
BUT
2) NO possessive pronouns have an apostrophe (e.g. mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs)

Does this make sense?
Mike
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johnnguyen2016 wrote:
Hi mikemcgarry

Could you explain a little more about E, regarding "appears to have begun", is it correct to say like that? And in this case, what the meaning of this present perfect tense? (even E is incorrect, I just not clear about this matter)

Thank you very much

Dear johnnguyen2016,

I'm happy to respond. (E) is not correct, because of the apostrophe mistake explained above, but this phrase "appears to have begun" is 100% correct.

You see, one idiom associated with the verb "appear" is appear +[infinitive]. We use this when we are judging something by its appearance and we are in doubt about the underlying truth. For example, I might say:
My friend appears to be sick.
I would say that, for example, if saw my friend across the room and didn't have a chance to talk to him. I would be judging on appearances alone, and from that attempting to draw an inference about whether he was really sick. In a slightly more formal context:
After last months severe downturn, stocks appear to be returning to their previous levels.
That could be the OA of a relatively simple SC question. This sentence is 100% correct. Again, we don't have enough knowledge to say for certain that stocks will return to their previous level, but as much as we judge from what we can observe right now, this is the apparent pattern.

Notice both of these cases were all in the present time---our own perception and the event we are judging are all in the present. Sometimes, we are talking about the limits of our present time knowledge or awareness of some event in the past. For this we use the idiom appear + [perfect infinitive]. You see, the case is not present perfect tense in that construction. The verb "appears" is simple present tense, and the infinitive is a perfect infinitive. A perfect infinitive = "have" + [past participle].
to have walked
to have sung
to have bought
to have sold
to have been

I might say,
Julius Caesar appears to have been well-liked by the citizens of Rome.
This is 100% correct. If I am saying this, I am speculating. I wasn't there at the time of Caesar and I am not a historian with a deep factual knowledge of the period. A historian would be able to make the factual statement "Julius Caesar was well-liked by the citizens of Rome." My statement is much more tentative. I implying that I am no expert, but from the limited knowledge and experience I have, I am drawing this conclusion.

Similarly,
...the first cultivation of the seeds and pulp of the cacao plant appears to have begun in Mexico and Central America.
This is 100% correct. This is also a tentative statement. I would assume that historical record is incomplete, so nobody is in a position to make the definitive statement about exactly when and where the first cultivation of the cacao plant was. At the very best, historians can only make a guess about how it appears. That's what this phrasing conveys.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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SVTTCGMAT wrote:
Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon region, its first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun in Mexico and Central America.

A) its first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun
B) apparently it was cultivated for its seeds and its pulp beginning
C) it was apparently first cultivated for its seeds and pulp
D) the beginning of its cultivation for seeds and pulp appears to be
E) the first cultivation for its seeds and pulp appears to have begun

Can anyone explain why E is wrong?

hxzworld wrote:
i'm totally confused with this question.
could someone explain more specifically, especially, what's wrong with A ??

Dear hxzworld,

I'm happy to respond.

Unfortunately, SVTTCGMAT posted the question with multiple errors, and much of the discussion on this page revolves around discussing those errors rather than the substance of the original official question. The version above is the correct version: one we remove all the errors originally introduced when this question was posted, it is a wonderful question.

Here's what is so hard about the question: all five of the answer choices are grammatically correct! This is a wonderful question because it really doesn't test grammar at all. This question is almost completely a pure test of rhetorical construction.

Think about it. What is the core action here? The core action is the action of cultivating cacao for its seed & pulp. The discussion of this action is essential to the sentence. Well, as a general rule, if a sentence is about an action, often the most effective version that sentence involves the action as a verb.

A) its first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun
The main action is a noun, "cultivation," and the sapless alternative "was begun" is the main verb. This is grammatically correct, but it is about as direct and persuasive as wet toast. This is a rhetorical failure and is wrong.

B) apparently it was cultivated for its seeds and its pulp beginning
The main action is a verb--good. The problem here is the participle "beginning": the Modifier Touch Rule suggests that the "pulps" "begin in Mexico and Central America." This is illogical. We can step back from this grammar and figure out logically what the target noun should be, but in a well-constructed sentence, everything should be clear already. This is ambiguous and wrong.

C) it was apparently first cultivated for its seeds and pulp
The main action is a verb--good. No logical problems. This is active and powerful. These seems promising.

D) the beginning of its cultivation for seeds and pulp appears to be
The main action is a noun, "cultivation," and the punchless alternative "appears to have began" is the main verb. This version seems as if it were trying to make the sentence as long, boring, and indirect as possible. This is completely mealy-mouthed, a rhetorical train wreck. This is incorrect.

E) the first cultivation for its seeds and pulp appears to have begun
Once again, the main action is a noun, "cultivation," and the lily-livered alternative "appears to have began" is the main verb. This is flabby, indirect, timid, and without any persuasive power. This yawn-inducing version is another rhetorical failure.

The only possible answer is (C).

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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I'm happy to respond. Here is the corrected question.

Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon region, its first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun in Mexico and Central America.

A. its first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun
B. apparently it was cultivated for its seeds and pulp beginning
C. it was apparently first cultivated for its seeds and pulp
D. the beginning of its cultivation for seeds and pulp appears to be
E. the first cultivation for its seeds and pulp appears to have begun

Now, I will say that, even without the apostrophe problems, I think this is a low quality question. What the source calls the OA, (C), is better than (E), but even (C) has its problems. The entire question falls far below the standards of the GMAT.

(C) it was apparently first cultivated for its seeds and pulp
Good things about (C)
1) active & direct language
2) the parallelism makes the "cocoa plant" the subject of both independent clauses, which unifies the focus of the sentence; this is a subtle rhetorical move.
The problem with (C), from my point of view, is chopping up the verb with adjective:
. . . was apparently first cultivated . . .
This is a rhetorical idea that is a bit too subtle for it to function as a split on GMAT SC: it's a bit subtler than the GMAT would expect students to appreciate. Nevertheless, you will notice that, in OAs on official questions, the general pattern is that the verbs are not chopped up, while on incorrect answers, the verbs are more likely to be chopped up. Having one adverb between the elements of the verb can be acceptable for rhetorical emphasis, but having two like this, conveying separate ideas, is too much. I would suggest
(C1) apparently it was first cultivated for its seeds and pulp
That's much smoother.

Now, what about (E). Notice that we congeal the action of the verb into a noun: always be suspicious of this move. See this blog:
Active Verbs on the GMAT
Verbs are words designed to convey action---"was cultivated" is an action that we can visualize folks in ancient times taking. Changing this to a noun leaves us with a sentence that is 100% grammatically correct but rhetorically hamstrung. The action of cultivating has been solidified into a noun, and we are left with the wimpy verb "appears" as the main verb of the second clause. Also, the rhetorical focus on the "cocoa plant" is less clear. We get clunky indirect sentence. This is why (E) is bad, even though it is 100% grammatically correct.

Overall, I will give this question a grade of C-.

Here's a higher quality SC practice question:
Becquerel's discovery of radioactivity

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon regio [#permalink]
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SVTTCGMAT wrote:
Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon region, it's first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun in Mexico and Central America.

A) its first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun
B) apparently it was cultivated for its seeds and its pulp beginning
C) it was apparently first cultivated for its seeds and pulp
D) the beginning of its cultivation for seeds and pulp appears to be
E) the first cultivation for it's seeds and pulp appears to have begun

Can anyone explain why E is wrong?

E is wrong because of the contraction [it's] = it is. 'For it is seeds' is just awkward.
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Re: Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon regio [#permalink]
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There isn't much to explain on the topic after Mike has so substantially dissected it.
I am only looking at some words from the meaning point.
When you say the first cultivation, it might weirdly imply that there are several other cultivations of Cacao. Cultivation is a noun to express a process rather than the numeric of it. The better term is to say that it was first cultivated.
The second point is that when something was begun, it might imply it might have ended sometime later. However, the cultivation is still going on, probably endlessly. Therefore, the use of 'was begun', 'to have begun' or 'beginning (both as a modifier and as a gerund) is inappropriate.
C is the one that is above such muddles and hence is the best of the lot.
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Re: Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon regio [#permalink]
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mikemcgarry. Thank you for your detailed explanations.

A small doubt :
After last months severe downturn, stocks appears to returning to their previous levels.

In this sentence, can we write "appears to be returning"?

Another example : She appears to be doing more hardwork in office.

Very good questions, my friend. I'm happy to respond.

I must have been tired or sick when I wrote that example sentence, because it is a disaster.
a) it violates SVA
b) it omits the essential "be"
As written, it is 100% wrong. The correct version would be
After last months severe downturn, stocks appear to be returning to their previous levels.

Your provided this example:
She appears to be doing more hard work in office.
The words "hard work" are always two separate words---the combined eight-letter word does not exist---but other than that, this sentence is 100% correct. It's grammatically perfect, but because it's a personal topic, it's not an apt sentence for the GMAT. We could say:
The world's oceans appear to be getting warmer over time.
Earth's rotation rate appears to be slowing down at a small but measurable rate.

Those more academic topics would be more likely fodder for the GMAT SC.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon regio [#permalink]
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cubs wrote:
But are we not contrasting the place of origin?
the sentence is structured like this " Although X originated in Y, its cultivation began in Z "
Should not the core action be where its cultivation began rather than what it was cultivated for?
Thanks.

Hello cubs,

I will be glad to help you out with this one.

You are correct in understanding the intended contrast in the sentence.

Indeed, the sentence intends to convey that cacao plant originated in X. But it was first cultivated in Y and Z.

This is the contrast conveyed by Choice C very clearly. The point that this plant was cultivated for seeds and pulp just adds up to the context of the sentence.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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Re: Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon regio [#permalink]
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i'm totally confused with this question.
could someone explain more specifically, especially, what's wrong with A ??
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Re: Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon regio [#permalink]
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Hello Mike,

I guess I did not make myself clear.

I think "apparently" and "appears" convey different levels of certainty. Since this question is very tricky, I am trying to figure out some splitting points to eliminate the wrong choices. Do you think that "apparently" conveys a different meaning (the certainty) from "appear" so that the usage of "appear" in E changes the intended meaning in the original sentence (A) that contains "apparently" ?

Have a good weekend,
Victoria

Victoria,

How are you, my friend? I'm happy to respond.

My friend, if you are looking for a deciding split, I think you are looking in the wrong place.

In some contexts, "apparently" and "appears" do convey different levels of certainty, but I don't think this is a universal distinction.
a) Apparently, he was wrong.
b) He appears to be wrong.
Yes, in this instance, it seems there is something apprehensible to our senses. The first instance is a supposition, perhaps derived from something we heard. The latter has the connotation of something we can see with our own eyes, and so there's more certainty. What we see with our eyes is more certain that what we think in our heads.

The trouble is that this distinction vanishes when the matter under discussion is not one immediately apprehensible to our senses. Here, we are talking about the first cultivation of cacao way back in pre-history. Any conclusion we make about this topic is several logical steps away from simple sense evidence.
C) it was apparently first cultivated for its seeds and pulp
E) the first cultivation for its seeds and pulp appears to have begun

Here, the "appears" in (E) is not about sense data, but rather about the way something appears, as it were, the the mind's eye. It's the way it appears in logical conceptual framework. Thus, with the "apparently" and the "appears," we are talking about head stuff in both cases, the way ideas appear. In neither case are we talking about direct sense data. Thus, the potency of the difference, so evident in the short sentences in the last paragraph, vanishes here. Yes, there may still be some very subtle difference in level of certainty, but at this point, we are at a level of subtlety far beyond what the GMAT would test.

Does all this make sense?

Have a great weekend!

Mike
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Re: Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon regio [#permalink]
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teaserbae wrote:
AjiteshArun can you please brief why E is wrong ?
Option E is just not put together very well. For example, take a look at the first few words of E:

the first cultivation for its seeds and pulp appears to have begun

Apart from being awkward, the "the first cultivation" bit doesn't even clarify that the cultivation was of the cacao plant. Compare that to (a slightly shorter version of) option C:

it was first cultivated for its seeds and pulp

This option communicates what was cultivated very clearly.
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Instead of getting all wrapped up in analyzing the wording of each individual answer and spending a lot of time on that, the way I looked at this sentence was by understanding the overall meaning and what was being compared.

The use of "although" as the initial opening word indicates that the sentence is comparing two different ideas. The first phrase indicates the cacao plant ORIGINATED IN the UPPER AMAZON REGION, and the second phrase says its (refers to the cacao plant) first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently BEGUN IN MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA. Comparing these two different verbs and places, I can already clearly see that the use of "begun in" is incorrect since begun, beginning, etc. is a verb used to describe TIME not a PLACE whereas the use of "originating in" is clearly used to describe a PLACE, the Upper Amazon region.

Therefore A, B, and E can all be immediately eliminated since all use variations of begun, beginning. D can also be eliminated since "to be" is incorrect since it is nonsensical for "the beginning of its cultivation for seeds and pulp TO BE in Mexico and Central America". Beginning of something, which indicates time, can't "be" in a place. Beginning of something begins in a time.

C then clearly is the only choice that stands out to fit in the comparison of the sentence, and when plugged into the stimulus clearly compares correctly.

Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon region, it was apparently first cultivated for its seeds and pulp in Mexico and Central America.
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Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon regio [#permalink]
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ashishzanke wrote:
I didnt understand why option E is incorrect and option C is correct. Doesnt C change original meaning of the sentence?

Here's the (E) version:

Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon region, the first cultivation for its seeds and pulp appears to have begun in Mexico and Central America.

This version has a few issues.

- "The first cultivation for its seeds and pulp" does not clearly convey that the cacao plant was cultivated.

- The "first cultivation" and "to have begun" are redundant because "the first" is of course what "begun."

Here's the (C) version:

Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon region, it was apparently first cultivated for its seeds and pulp in Mexico and Central America.

This version has neither of the issues we saw in the (E) version and effectively conveys a meaning that makes sense. Thus, this version is correct, regardless of whether it conveys the same meaning as is conveyed by the original version.
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Re: Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon regio [#permalink]
mikemcgarry wrote:
SVTTCGMAT wrote:
Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon region, it's first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun in Mexico and Central America.

A) it's first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun
B) apparently it was cultivated for its seeds and its pulp beginning
C) it was apparently first cultivated for its seeds and pulp
D) the beginning of its cultivation for seeds and pulp appears to be
E) the first cultivation for it's seeds and pulp appears to have begun

Can anyone explain why E is wrong?

Dear SVTTCGMAT,
I'm happy to respond.

One of the distinctions in this SC problem is the difference between "its" and "it's."

its = possessive of the pronoun "it"

it's = a contraction for "it is"

Thus, if we expand the contraction, (E) says:
...the first cultivation for it is seeds and pulp appears to have begun ...
That is nonsensical and not what the author was trying to say. The author was trying to put a possessive pronoun there, so the author should have used "its."

Notice that
1) essentially ALL possessive nouns have an apostrophe (e.g. Mike's, women's, America's, my car's, the team's, etc.)
BUT
2) NO possessive pronouns have an apostrophe (e.g. mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs)

Does this make sense?
Mike

Hi mikemcgarry

Could you explain a little more about E, regarding "appears to have begun", is it correct to say like that? And in this case, what the meaning of this present perfect tense? (even E is incorrect, I just not clear about this matter)

Thank you very much
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Re: Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon regio [#permalink]
mikemcgarry. Thank you for your detailed explanations.

A small doubt :

After last months severe downturn, stocks appears to returning to their previous levels.

In this sentence, can we write "appears to be returning"?

Another example : She appears to be doing more hardwork in office.
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Re: Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon regio [#permalink]
mikemcgarry wrote:
SVTTCGMAT wrote:
Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon region, its first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun in Mexico and Central America.

A) its first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun
B) apparently it was cultivated for its seeds and its pulp beginning
C) it was apparently first cultivated for its seeds and pulp
D) the beginning of its cultivation for seeds and pulp appears to be
E) the first cultivation for its seeds and pulp appears to have begun

Can anyone explain why E is wrong?

hxzworld wrote:
i'm totally confused with this question.
could someone explain more specifically, especially, what's wrong with A ??

Dear hxzworld,

I'm happy to respond.

Unfortunately, SVTTCGMAT posted the question with multiple errors, and much of the discussion on this page revolves around discussing those errors rather than the substance of the original official question. The version above is the correct version: one we remove all the errors originally introduced when this question was posted, it is a wonderful question.

Here's what is so hard about the question: all five of the answer choices are grammatically correct! This is a wonderful question because it really doesn't test grammar at all. This question is almost completely a pure test of rhetorical construction.

Think about it. What is the core action here? The core action is the action of cultivating cacao for its seed & pulp. The discussion of this action is essential to the sentence. Well, as a general rule, if a sentence is about an action, often the most effective version that sentence involves the action as a verb.

A) its first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun
The main action is a noun, "cultivation," and the sapless alternative "was begun" is the main verb. This is grammatically correct, but it is about as direct and persuasive as wet toast. This is a rhetorical failure and is wrong.

B) apparently it was cultivated for its seeds and its pulp beginning
The main action is a verb--good. The problem here is the participle "beginning": the Modifier Touch Rule suggests that the "pulps" "begin in Mexico and Central America." This is illogical. We can step back from this grammar and figure out logically what the target noun should be, but in a well-constructed sentence, everything should be clear already. This is ambiguous and wrong.

C) it was apparently first cultivated for its seeds and pulp
The main action is a verb--good. No logical problems. This is active and powerful. These seems promising.

D) the beginning of its cultivation for seeds and pulp appears to be
The main action is a noun, "cultivation," and the punchless alternative "appears to have began" is the main verb. This version seems as if it were trying to make the sentence as long, boring, and indirect as possible. This is completely mealy-mouthed, a rhetorical train wreck. This is incorrect.

E) the first cultivation for its seeds and pulp appears to have begun
Once again, the main action is a noun, "cultivation," and the lily-livered alternative "appears to have began" is the main verb. This is flabby, indirect, timid, and without any persuasive power. This yawn-inducing version is another rhetorical failure.

The only possible answer is (C).

Does all this make sense?
Mike

Hello Mike,

I have a doubt in non underlined part. The word "Although" introduces a sub-ordinate clause. However, in the sentence, I see no verb in the non-underlined part.

Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon region.

The word originated should be was originated.

Am I missing something? Please explain.

Thanks
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Re: Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon regio [#permalink]
karant wrote:
mikemcgarry wrote:
SVTTCGMAT wrote:
Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon region, its first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun in Mexico and Central America.

A) its first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun
B) apparently it was cultivated for its seeds and its pulp beginning
C) it was apparently first cultivated for its seeds and pulp
D) the beginning of its cultivation for seeds and pulp appears to be
E) the first cultivation for its seeds and pulp appears to have begun

Can anyone explain why E is wrong?

hxzworld wrote:
i'm totally confused with this question.
could someone explain more specifically, especially, what's wrong with A ??

Dear hxzworld,

I'm happy to respond.

Unfortunately, SVTTCGMAT posted the question with multiple errors, and much of the discussion on this page revolves around discussing those errors rather than the substance of the original official question. The version above is the correct version: one we remove all the errors originally introduced when this question was posted, it is a wonderful question.

Here's what is so hard about the question: all five of the answer choices are grammatically correct! This is a wonderful question because it really doesn't test grammar at all. This question is almost completely a pure test of rhetorical construction.

Think about it. What is the core action here? The core action is the action of cultivating cacao for its seed & pulp. The discussion of this action is essential to the sentence. Well, as a general rule, if a sentence is about an action, often the most effective version that sentence involves the action as a verb.

A) its first cultivation for seeds and pulp was apparently begun
The main action is a noun, "cultivation," and the sapless alternative "was begun" is the main verb. This is grammatically correct, but it is about as direct and persuasive as wet toast. This is a rhetorical failure and is wrong.

B) apparently it was cultivated for its seeds and its pulp beginning
The main action is a verb--good. The problem here is the participle "beginning": the Modifier Touch Rule suggests that the "pulps" "begin in Mexico and Central America." This is illogical. We can step back from this grammar and figure out logically what the target noun should be, but in a well-constructed sentence, everything should be clear already. This is ambiguous and wrong.

C) it was apparently first cultivated for its seeds and pulp
The main action is a verb--good. No logical problems. This is active and powerful. These seems promising.

D) the beginning of its cultivation for seeds and pulp appears to be
The main action is a noun, "cultivation," and the punchless alternative "appears to have began" is the main verb. This version seems as if it were trying to make the sentence as long, boring, and indirect as possible. This is completely mealy-mouthed, a rhetorical train wreck. This is incorrect.

E) the first cultivation for its seeds and pulp appears to have begun
Once again, the main action is a noun, "cultivation," and the lily-livered alternative "appears to have began" is the main verb. This is flabby, indirect, timid, and without any persuasive power. This yawn-inducing version is another rhetorical failure.

The only possible answer is (C).

Does all this make sense?
Mike

Hello Mike,

I have a doubt in non underlined part. The word "Although" introduces a sub-ordinate clause. However, in the sentence, I see no verb in the non-underlined part.

Although the cacao plant probably originated in the upper Amazon region.

The word originated should be was originated.

Am I missing something? Please explain.

Thanks

"Originated" is the verb - "originated" is the simple past form of "origin". The passive voice "was originated" is unnecessary,

I played football. Here "played" is the verb - I was played is wrong.
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