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Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation

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Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 06 Sep 2018, 23:15
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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

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 !!!!

Originally posted by Darth_McDaddy on 12 Oct 2005, 05:17.
Last edited by Bunuel on 06 Sep 2018, 23:15, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Feb 2014, 03:54
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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.

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Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 19 Feb 2019, 17:51
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Hello Everyone!

Let's take a closer look at this question and see where we can narrow down options, so we can answer this question quickly! To get started, here is the original question with the major differences between each option highlighted in orange:

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

After a quick glance over the options, two major differences pop out immediately:

1. Verb Tense (ranks/rank/has the rank of/are/have been ranked)
2. surpassed only / only surpassed

Let's start with #1 on our list: verb tense. This should easily knock 2-3 options off our list quickly. The subject of this sentence is diabetes, which is a singular subject. Therefore, we need to make sure the verbs are also singular! Let's see how each option stacks up:


(a) Diabetes...ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, surpassed only
(b) Diabetes...rank as the nation's third leading cause of death, only surpassed
(c) Diabetes...has the rank of the nation's third leading cause of death, only surpassed
(d) Diabetes...are the nation's third leading causes of death, surpassed only
(e) Diabetes...have been ranked as the nation's third leading causes of death, only surpassed

We can rule out options B, D, and E because they all use plural verbs, which don't match in number with our singular subject! See? Now we only have 2 options to deal with now! So, let's tackle #2 on our list: surpassed only / only surpassed.

These two phrases mean something slightly different:

surpassed only by heart disease and cancer = heart disease and cancer are the only diseases that surpassed diabetes as the leading cause of death
only surpassed by heart disease and cancer = heart disease and cancer only do one thing (surpass diabetes), suggests they don't have other functions?

It makes the most sense for this sentence to say that diabetes is surpassed only by heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death. Therefore, we can rule out option C because it doesn't convey the correct meaning.

There is also another way to narrow these answers down:

(a) ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, surpassed only

This is CORRECT because it uses concise and clear wording to convey the correct meaning.

(c) has the rank of the nation's third leading cause of death, only surpassed

This is INCORRECT because the phrase "has the rank of" is overly wordy and unnecessary. It also uses the incorrect construction "only surpassed," which conveys the wrong overall meaning.


There you go - option A is the correct choice after all!


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Originally posted by EMPOWERgmatVerbal on 06 Sep 2018, 11:42.
Last edited by EMPOWERgmatVerbal on 19 Feb 2019, 17:51, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Oct 2005, 14:44
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Thank you all for your responses.

The OA is A. Most of you got the answer right. However, only Folaa3 and desiguy came close to getting the main concept right.

The CONCEPT
When the phrase following the subject is set of by commas, it indicates that the descriptive information conveyed by that phrase may be dropped from the sentence; it is not part of the subject

NOTE: The following words - with, including, accompanied by, along with, as well as, besides, in addition to, together with, do not create compound subjects

Together with, does not create a compound subject. Since Diabetes is singular, the singular verb ranks is most appropriate in the answer choice. A also correctly uses the present tense. "Only" is also correctly placed with precision next to the group of words it actually limits.

I have also listed a few examples below, so that you can understand the concept better.

Wrong: George Bush, as well as Dick Cheney, are politicians

Right: George Bush, as well as Dick Cheney, is a politician

Wrong: George Bernard Shaw, as well as Mahatma Gandhi and River Phoenix, were vegetarians

Right: George Bernard Shaw, as well as Mahatma Gandhi and River Phoenix, was a vegetarian

Hope that helps.

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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Oct 2005, 05:24
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"Rank of" unidiomatic...C is OUT
E, D and B are OUT - Diabetes is not plural (check the sentence, "its serious complications" means the main subject "diabetes" is singular)

I pick A. Straightforward - use simple present tense.
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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Sep 2016, 09:36
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Karanagrawal wrote:
can anybody explain me how supassed is correct
means verb+ed modifies the closest moun means death in this case
death is not being surpassed confused :roll: :(


The concept that a past participle modifier (or any modifier as such) MUST always follow the touch rule is not correct (there is no "nearest noun" rule whatsoever - the "touch rule" states that modifier should refer to the noun it touches). Nonetheless there are exceptions to the "touch rule" - Manhattan SC guide summaries them all.

This question falls under the following exception:
A short predicate falls between, shifting a long modifier back.
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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Jan 2013, 05:01
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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

I also come to A.

however, one question, pls help

in the pattern

X of Y, do-ed

if Y works, comma+do-ed modifies Y
if Y dose not work and Y modifies X, comma+do-ed can jump Y to modifies X

if Y dose not work and Y dose not modifies X, comma+do-ed can not jump

for example
diabettes ranks as the second most dangerous disease by IFO oganisation, supassed by X disease
is wrong.
(I never see this question on og). just for discussion.

pls, comment.
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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Feb 2014, 11:58
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Every one answered correctly, but no one challenged the usage of ed modifier after comma; what ed modifier is modifying.
It is explained further on this thread.
verb-ed-modifiers-vs-verb-ing-modifiers-125611.html

It says ed modifier modifies the entire noun phrase "nation's third leading cause of death"
Technically surpassed is modifying death but logically nothing can surpass death thus as per the rule it can modify entire preceding noun phrase.

Similarly there is another question from Gmat prep: which is quite confusing as right answer is bit difficult to understand, modifier is preferred over verb, but all actions appear at same level and no cause or effect relationship appear b/w them.
found-throughout-central-and-south-america-sloths-hang-from-83510.html
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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Jul 2016, 00:01
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The idea is to place "only" as close as possible to what it's modifying. We're not saying that diabetes is "only surpassed" (as opposed to some other more extreme verb). We're saying that it is surpassed by two other causes, and only by those two causes. Take a look at these:

I only sing in the band. (The only thing I do in the band is sing. I may also sing in other contexts.)
I sing only in the band. (I don't sing outside of the band. I may also do other things in the band, such as play an instrument.)

The door can be unlocked only by someone pure of heart. (Only someone pure of heart can unlock the door.)
The door can only be unlocked by someone pure of heart. (Someone pure of heart can only unlock the door. Perhaps they can't open it or pass through.)

If these seem weird to you, it's because very few of us actually speak or write like this. I don't generally follow this rule in my own writing, as I find there are other ways to make my meaning clear, and I often find the "correct" version to seem awkward or stuffy. However, the GMAT didn't ask my opinion! ;)
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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Sep 2016, 00:40
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Karanagrawal, it may help to think of "cause of death" as one thing. Similarly, we can say "The President of France, who visited . . . " or "The jar of peanut butter, which shattered." True, France didn't visit and the peanut butter didn't shatter. But those short prepositional modifiers just clarify who did visit and what did shatter.

Of course, another way to tell that this modifier usage isn't problematic is to note that it appears in all five answer choices, so we have to accept it.
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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Oct 2017, 09:45
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Term "Diabetes, together with its serious complications" is plural so we have to use ranks. Had it been only "Diabetes" then sentence will be Diabetes rank as third......please note we are ranking based on "leading cause of death". E.g. you can rank any food items based on deliciousness.

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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Jun 2019, 05:50
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Smitc007 wrote:
Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer
Here "together with its serious complications"," ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death" and "surpassed only by heart disease and cancer" are modifying Diabetes. however, It is not a full sentence

for example :- George Bush, as well as Dick Cheney, are politicians ---- "are" is a linking verb used to make it a sentence .
:- George Bernard Shaw, as well as Mahatma Gandhi and River Phoenix, was a vegetarian-----"was"is a linking verb used to make it a sentence.


why there is no need of linking verb in this answer choice A) to make a complete sentence?

need help on this GMATNinja ChrisLele sayantanc2k EducationAisle
Hi Smitc007,

Yes, surpassed is a modifier, but ranks is a verb here:
Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer.

For example, in "the GMAT ranks ahead of the GRE...", ranks is the verb for the GMAT. More examples:

The economy ranks second in the latest surveys on the issues voters care about the most.
The students ranked the companies.
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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Apr 2015, 13:38
(a) ranks as the nation's third leading cause of death, surpassed only
The V agrees in number with S (diabetes), surpassed serves as a modifier, and modifies the nation’s third leading cause of death. The sentence is correct as it is.

(b) rank as the nation's third leading cause of death, only surpassed
This choice has a SV error. “only surpassed” is not the same as “surpassed only”, thus leading to meaning error.

(c) has the rank of the nation's third leading cause of death, only surpassed
Has the rank of is wordy – ranks is better. Same meaning error as in b

(d) are the nation's third leading causes of death, surpassed only
SV error. Are does not agree in number with diabetes.

(e) have been ranked as the nation's third leading causes of death, only surpassed
SV error. Same meaning error as (c) and (b). use of present perfect is not needed when presenting facts.
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Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 20 May 2015, 12:16
Hi Folks,

Surpassed by..... is a participial modifier so it should modify a noun or a noun phrase.

Could you please tell me which is th noun or phrase being modified here.

I think its Diabetes.

Also,

How did you decide that " nation's third..." is a noun phrase.I often get confused while finding them.
I thought diabetes is getting modified

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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jun 2015, 10:15
kirtivardhan wrote:
How did you decide that " nation's third..." is a noun phrase.I often get confused while finding them.
I thought diabetes is getting modified

Let's analyze nation's third leading cause of death.

- cause is a noun.
- So, cause of death will also be a noun.
- third leading is just an adjective (an attribute/property/characteristic) of cause of death
- So, third leading cause of death is a noun (more specifically a noun phrase, because these group of words do not have a verb)
- Nation's is just making this entire noun phrase a possessive noun phrase.

Let's look at other example: India's third successive win in the tournament.

- win is a noun.
- So, win in the tournament will also be a noun.
- third successive is just an adjective (an attribute/property/characteristic) of win in the tournament
- So, third successive win in the tournament is a noun (more specifically a noun phrase, because these group of words do not have a verb)
- India's is just making this entire noun a possessive noun phrase.

Let me know if something is not clear.
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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jun 2016, 05:47
The OA says that "only" should be placed after "surpassed", not before, because it limits "by hear disease and cancer", not "surpassed".

..., only surpassed by heart disease and cancer. ---> Wrong
..., surpassed only by heart disease and cancer. ---> Right

Could you please explain this observation in further detail?
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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Jul 2016, 09:47
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 - Correct - Diabetes is singular/ hence ranks is correct More over Surpassed should precede only as only should be nearer to the item description.
(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
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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jun 2017, 01:58
Hi can some please why E is wrong ?

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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jun 2017, 02:51
arvind910619 wrote:
Hi can some please why E is wrong ?

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The subject "Diabetes" is singular, whereas the verb "have been ranked" is plural. Hence E is wrong. Note that the part "together with its serious complications" is only a modifier of the subject "Diabetes". It does not change the number (i.e. singular/plural) of the subject.
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Re: Diabetes, together with its serious complications, ranks as the nation  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jun 2017, 00:30
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If we scan options vertically, we can see a split of ‘ranks’ vs. ‘rank’. ‘ranks’ is singular and ‘rank’ is ‘plural. When we read the sentence, subject is ‘Diabetes’ which is singular. Eliminate B, D and E.

If we compare last words of A and C,
In C, ‘only’ modifies ‘surpassed’ means ‘Diabetes’ is only surpassing and not doing anything else. Wrong usage. Also, we are stating a fact, so simple present is required.

Hence A is the correct answer
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