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# By 1999, astronomers had discovered

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07 Jun 2017, 20:35
warriorguy wrote:
Hello GMATNinja,

Can you help to review whether below analysis is correct?

In option B, we have a subtle meaning shift. By 1999, astronomers had discovered 17 nearby stars with planets. Can we say that astronomers discovered stars with planets is different from the original meaning that astronomers discovered stars?. Also, antecedent of them in choice B is ambiguous.

Similarly, C has a meaning shift - “By 1999, astronomers had discovered that there were 17 nearby stars”.

Since we have unambiguous meaning conveyed in A, we should retain the same.

Hello warriorguy,

The meaning change in Choice B that you have mentioned in your post does not really stand.

The thing is whenever we read a sentence, we try to understand the meaning conveyed by it in its entirety. Hence, when we read Choice B, we understand that the sentence intends to say that the scientists had discovered 17 stars and planets orbited them.

The error with Choice B is that it suggests that the planets orbited the stars. They do not do so anymore. This is so because the main verb in Choice B is in past tense. Hence, the verb-ing modifier orbiting adopts the tense of the main verb and thus expresses illogical meaning. However, the correct answer choice A makes it absolutely clear that the planets still orbit these stars.

Choice C too repeats this meaning error. Choice C says that that the 17 stars discovered by the scientists existed in he past, and the planets orbited them in the past. Per the original sentence, the stars do exist in the present because some planets do orbit them.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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07 Jun 2017, 20:46
egmat wrote:
warriorguy wrote:
Hello GMATNinja,

Can you help to review whether below analysis is correct?

In option B, we have a subtle meaning shift. By 1999, astronomers had discovered 17 nearby stars with planets. Can we say that astronomers discovered stars with planets is different from the original meaning that astronomers discovered stars?. Also, antecedent of them in choice B is ambiguous.

Similarly, C has a meaning shift - “By 1999, astronomers had discovered that there were 17 nearby stars”.

Since we have unambiguous meaning conveyed in A, we should retain the same.

Hello warriorguy,

The meaning change in Choice B that you have mentioned in your post does not really stand.

The thing is whenever we read a sentence, we try to understand the meaning conveyed by it in its entirety. Hence, when we read Choice B, we understand that the sentence intends to say that the scientists had discovered 17 stars and planets orbited them.

The error with Choice B is that it suggests that the planets orbited the stars. They do not do so anymore. This is so because the main verb in Choice B is in past tense. Hence, the verb-ing modifier orbiting adopts the tense of the main verb and thus expresses illogical meaning. However, the correct answer choice A makes it absolutely clear that the planets still orbit these stars.

Choice C too repeats this meaning error. Choice C says that that the 17 stars discovered by the scientists existed in he past, and the planets orbited them in the past. Per the original sentence, the stars do exist in the present because some planets do orbit them.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.

I intended to write 'are' v/s 'were' as meaning shift in C.

As a side thought - One more query, can we say that antecedent of 'them' in choice B is ambiguous?
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08 Jun 2017, 00:26
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The alleged ambiguity about 'them' may not sustain logically. The contenders, if at all any, are 1. astronomers, 2. planets, and 3. stars. Obviously, planets orbiting astronomers is too silly. Planets orbiting planets is also equally weird. Therefore, the logical and befitting referent for 'them' is only stars.
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10 Jun 2017, 04:55
daagh wrote:
The alleged ambiguity about 'them' may not sustain logically. The contenders, if at all any, are 1. astronomers, 2. planets, and 3. stars. Obviously, planets orbiting astronomers is too silly. Planets orbiting planets is also equally weird. Therefore, the logical and befitting referent for 'them' is only stars.

Planets can orbit around each other.

https://www.space.com/27832-binary-eart ... anets.html
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25 Jun 2017, 01:24
By 1999, astronomers had discovered 17 nearby stars that are orbited by planets about the size of Jupiter

The sentence says that before 1999, astronomers had discovered something..
So, we have two events one is year 1999 and the other is the discovery of something which happened before 1999.
So to clearly depict this timeline, we need to use "had" - past perfect tense ..
Hence Option D and E are outright wrong.

(A) had discovered 17 nearby stars that are orbited by planets
As explained above, the tenses are perfectly fine here ...and location of modifier "that ..." and in non-underlined part "about the size.." correctly modifying their respective nouns "stars" and "planets".
Sentence is correct as it is.

(B) had discovered 17 nearby stars with planets orbiting them that were
Usage of "were" suggests that the planets were of the size of Jupiter at that time before 1999 but may not probably of that size now (after 1999).
Also the usage of "with + noun + verb-ing (participle) as a substitute of full clause is incorrect here.

More on this "with + noun + participle" here : - Aha !!
https://magoosh.com/gmat/2015/with-noun-participle-on-gmat-sentence-correction/

(C) had discovered that there were 17 nearby stars that were orbited by planets
again "were" suggest that stars are no longer orbited by planets ..change in meaning

(D) have discovered 17 nearby stars with planets orbiting them that are
Wrong as explained above

(E) have discovered that 17 nearby stars are orbited by planets
Wrong as explained above
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02 Sep 2017, 06:17
(A) had discovered 17 nearby stars that are orbited by planets ----> Correct - Past Perfect is correctly used for 2 related non concurrent events.
(B) had discovered 17 nearby stars with planets orbiting them that were ----> 'that were' indicates that the stars were of the size of Jupiter in the past and are not of that size now.
(C) had discovered that there were 17 nearby stars that were orbited by planets ----> 'were 17 nearby stars that were orbited by planets' indicates that the existnce of the stars and their orbiting is a thing of the past and does not happen now.
(D) have discovered 17 nearby stars with planets orbiting them that are ----> By 1999, is an indicator that the discovery has been made so we cannot use 'have'
(E) have discovered that 17 nearby stars are orbited by planets ----> By 1999, is an indicator that the discovery has been made so we cannot use 'have'

Side Note: Remember when there are 2 related non-concurrent events ('discovery' and 'orbiting' as in this case) occurring, then the earlier event takes a 'Past Perfect Tense' verb.

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# By 1999, astronomers had discovered

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