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# Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive bo

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26 Nov 2019, 00:59
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67% (01:36) correct 33% (01:38) wrong based on 193 sessions

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Project SC Butler: Day 196: Sentence Correction (SC1)

Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays, observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while its light passes near the Sun.

A) observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while

B) which can be observed when a star appears to shift its position during the time

C) an observable effect as a star appears to shift position when

D) an effect observed as the appearance of a shift in the position of a star while

E) an effect that can be observed when a star appears to shift position as

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Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive bo  [#permalink]

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26 Nov 2019, 01:01
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OFFICIAL EXPLANATION

Project SC Butler: Day 196: Sentence Correction (SC1)

• HIGHLIGHTS
-- This sentence mainly tests the way in which the second part of this sentence is allowed to modify the first part.
-- In particular, in the correct answer, the second part of this sentence contains a "summative modifier."
Do understand the concept. (After you see a few examples of the concept, it should make sense.)
I explain summative modifiers below.

-- The sentence also tests whether a modifier creates ambiguous meaning.
-- Remember to check both parts of the non-underlined portion.

-- Rough meaning/structure of the first part of the sentence?
The theory holds that X does Y.
That sentence describes a process or phenomenon.

The first part of the sentence before the comma
(1) names a theory (Einstein's theory of relativity) and
(2) describes one aspect of the theory (the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays): something happens.
the gravity of a massive body deflects light rays is a clause that describes the effects of the gravity of a massive body.

-- The first part thus contains a noun (the theory) from which follows a process that is not itself named by a noun.
Einstein's theory of relativity holds that XYZ does ABC. The highlighted part is not a noun but rather a clause.

-- Certain kinds of modifiers cannot modify clauses.
The relative pronoun which, for example, must refer to a noun and cannot refer to a clause.
GMAC frequently tests the incorrect use of the word which—and almost always, it is this error.

Correct: The scientist suffered from exhaustion, which muddled her thinking. (which modifies exhaustion, and exhaustion can muddle thinking)
Wrong: The scientist was exhausted, which muddled her thinking. (which cannot modify the adjective exhausted; which cannot modify the whole idea contained in the clause)
Correct: The scientist was exhausted, a weariness that muddled her thinking. (weariness = summative modifier)

THE PROMPT
Quote:
Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays, observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while its light passes near the Sun.

THE OPTIONS

Quote:
A) Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays, observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while its light passes near the Sun.

• the word observable cannot modify the whole preceding cause, although what follows "observable" does refer to the whole clause

observable refers to light rays but should refer to the fact that the gravity of a massive celestial body deflects light rays
-- after all, "light rays" are . . . well, light.
-- the sentence does not mean merely that light rays are observable but rather that their visibility signals the existence of a process that relativity theory describes
-- the light rays are observable when a star seems to shift position while its light passes near the Sun because the Sun is a massive body that has an effect on the light rays.
-- observable is dicey
• nothing is wrong with the pronoun its. The only logical antecedent is "a star."
KEEP, but barely

Quote:
B) Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays, which can be observed when a star appears to shift its position during the time its light passes near the Sun.
which can never modify an entire clause
• GMAC would write, "The relative pronoun which has no antecedent."
-- don't go by your "ear."
Native speakers often informally and improperly use "which" to stand for "the clause I just said or heard."
Eliminate B

Quote:
C) Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays, an observable effect as a star appears to shift position when its light passes near the Sun.

• the word "as" is confusing:
-- an observable effect because a star appears to shift position or
-- an observable effect during the time that a star appears to shift position

• if this second part of the sentence is supposed to be an absolute phrase, it should not have a verb in it.
-- absolute phrases modify the subject, verb, or whole clause, but
(1) they are composed of [noun] + [noun modifiers],
(2) the noun modifier is often a participle (a verbED or a verbING word), and
(3) they do not contain a verb.
-- Example (present participle, verbING): Einstein refused to accept wave-particle duality, his mind rejecting the idea of a probabilistic universe.
-- Example (past participle, verbED): Einstein refused to accept wave-particle duality, his mind barricaded against the idea of a probabilistic universe.
• this answer is not great, but I cannot decide in two seconds whether to eliminate it, so
KEEP, but look for a better answer

Quote:
D) Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays, an effect observed as the appearance of a shift in the position of a star while its light passes near the Sun.

• the effect is not "observed as [in the role of] the appearance of a shift." The effect can be observed when a star appears to shift.
Eliminate D

Quote:
E) Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays, an effect that can be observed when a star appears to shift position as its light passes near the Sun.

• this sentence is correct
an effect is a "summative modifier" (explained below): it encapsulates the idea of the preceding phrase
-- the modifier is correctly constructed with [noun] + [noun modifier]
-- option E is better than (A) because we do not have to cope with what seems to be a weird adjective floating around without a noun to modify.
Eliminate A
-- (E) is better than (C). E's meaning is clearer and the word "as" is not ambiguous
Eliminate C.

• NOTES

SUMMATIVE MODIFIERS

This sentence uses a summative modifier.
When a sentence expresses an idea and we want to say more about that idea, often we summarize the idea in a couple of words.
Whatever words or phrases we choose are nouns to which we can add noun modifiers.

You do not need to remember the terminology—just how these modifiers work.

"To create a summative modifier, end a grammatically complete segment of a sentence with a comma, . . . find a noun that sums up the substance of the sentence, . . . [and then] continue with a relative clause."
(Joseph M. Williams, Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace. Longman, 2003), quoted here.

These summative modifiers use a noun to restate the idea in the main clause.
Correct: Sophisticated writers use varying sentence types, an approach that creates different cadences and changing rhythms in their prose.

Correct: The elected leader of a democratic country liked to talk with ruthless dictators, an inclination that alarmed his own security advisers.

Correct: The frightened puppy came slowly towards the treat, a wariness that was somewhat contradicted by his wagging tail.

STRATEGY - what are the answer choices telling us?

Not one answer choices gives us a conjunction and full, independent second clause.
The second part of the sentence must be either a modifier or a dependent clause.

In this case, we dealt with a modifier.
The summative modifier encapsulated the meaning of the first sentence and added more information in the form of an example.

At this point, option B is the second most chosen answer.
[comma + which] should immediately put you on guard.
Be careful. "Which" cannot modify whole clauses.

So we make up a few words (a summative modifier) that encapsulate the meaning of the first part of the sentence with a noun (usually followed by a that- or who-clause), and elaborate with a noun phrase.

This question is fairly difficult because its variations are frustrating.

If I cannot decide in just a few seconds whether to eliminate an option, I tentatively keep it.

Often it is easier to eliminate answers by comparing them.

The posts on this thread range from very good to excellent.
The question is hard.
Nice work. Happy kudos.
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Re: Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive bo  [#permalink]

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26 Nov 2019, 03:23
1
Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays, observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while its light passes near the Sun.

Quickest way to answer the question. Noun + noun modifier is preferred in such constructions. So, A, B and C is out. Active voice is preferred than passive voice and removal of when from the sentence changes the specific timing of event from the original sentence. So D is out.

E) an effect that can be observed when a star appears to shift position as - Correct.

Imo. E
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Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive bo  [#permalink]

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26 Nov 2019, 07:12
1
The underlined portion is a modifier of the previous clause or action and tries to say that effect happens when star's light passes under the sun, causing it to undergo shift in position.

A) observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while
Not clear if its the rays that is observable or the effect.

B) which can be observed when a star appears to shift its position during the time
Which cannot modify a clause or action

C) an observable effect as a star appears to shift position when
Not the right format for noun modifier

D) an effect observed as the appearance of a shift in the position of a star while
Not parallel to underlined portion after While.

E) an effect that can be observed when a star appears to shift position as
Correct
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Re: Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive bo  [#permalink]

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26 Nov 2019, 07:19
1
Well, I chose (B) as my answer.

For (A), it indicates that "observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while its light passes near the Sun" is also part of the "Einstein's theory of relativity".

For (C)(D)(E), they suggest that "Einstein's theory of relativity" is an effect? It is a theory not an effect.

That leaves (B) as my answer.
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26 Nov 2019, 09:54
1
Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays, observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while its light passes near the Sun.

A) observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while
observable should describe a noun since it's an adjective.Here,I am not sure if it describes the light Ray's or the theory of relativity. It should describe the effect of the theory not the light rays

B) which can be observed when a star appears to shift its position during the time
Which is wrongly used to refer to the light rays as what we observe
C) an observable effect as a star appears to shift position when
an observable effect is an appositive modifier that could modify the closest noun or the entire preceding clause.I struggle
to see what's wrong with this construction except that it's much less clearer than E.

D) an effect observed as the appearance of a shift in the position of a star while
[color=#ed1c24] the effect is not the appearance of a shift but it can observed when there is a shift[/color]

E) an effect that can be observed when a star appears to shift position as this is the clearest construction.

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Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive bo  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 26 Nov 2019, 10:33
1
Quote:
Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays, observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while its light passes near the Sun.

Quick read-trough reveals that the sentence tests meaning. The clause talks about two things (1) Einstein's theory and (2) the effects of the gravity of a massive body. The non-essential part talks about the example of (2). Presumably, scientists can observe the light rays when a star appears to shift position when star's light passes near the Sun (massive body with gravity).

A) observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while
The problem is with position. We have "its" in the non-underlined portion of the sentence. Does "its" refer to position, shift, or star? We have an issue with pronoun antecedent.

B) which can be observed when a star appears to shift its position during the time
Pronoun which correctly refers to light rays, which can be observed blah-blah. The antecedent of "its" is still a bit unclear (position or star), though. Let's keep (B).

C) an observable effect as a star appears to shift position when
Frankly, this option looks pretty ugly to me for some reason. An observable effect sounds weird, and we still deal with the pronoun issue that was discussed under (A).

D) an effect observed as the appearance of a shift in the position of a star while
This option is too wordy and awkward. The phrase an effect observed as the appearance makes no sense to me.

E) an effect that can be observed when a star appears to shift position as
This option looks promising. The main clause says that the Einstein's theory holds (explains/defines) some general phenomena, and the part after comma provides an example of such phenomena. For what its forth, pronoun "its" in the non-underlined portion of the sentence may refer to "star" or "position". Let's think about it. Some phenomena (deflected light rays) can be observed (say via a very fancy telescope) when a certain star appears to shift position {when is this happening?} when its (star's) light passes near the Sun. Let's re-phrase. There is a star that emits light, which travels as light rays & particles (excuse me, I am a physicist by training...). When the light rays (& particles) approach the massive body (e.g. the Sun), the rays (and particles) are deflected by the gravity of that massive body. Makes sense to me. Let's keep (E).

After thinking very methodically about (E), one can rule out (B). The Einstein's theory does not talk specifically about light rays which get deflected specifically by Sun. The theory is generic, and any massive body in our Galaxy can do the same trick (deflect light rays).

This is a tough SC problem.

Originally posted by mykrasovski on 26 Nov 2019, 10:01.
Last edited by mykrasovski on 26 Nov 2019, 10:33, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive bo  [#permalink]

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26 Nov 2019, 10:29
1
Quote:
Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays, observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while its light passes near the Sun.

Hi,
IMO E.
Meaning: Einstein's theory of relativity says that the gravity of a massive body deflects light rays passing nearby. For example, when a star's light rays passes near the Sun, star appears to have moved.
The underlined portion of the sentence is an absolute phrase/modifier.

Quote:
A) observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while
While demonstrates a simultaneous action that might or might not be related to the main/primary action. Plus, its wordy. not the best way to convey an idea.

Quote:
B) which can be observed when a star appears to shift its position during the time
which is modifying rays, not the whole idea.

Quote:
C) an observable effect as a star appears to shift position when
Now as, is something that shows a parallel action and its use here is incorrect. the appearing of the star is the effect, not something parallel to another effect.

Quote:
D) an effect observed as the appearance of a shift in the position of a star while
awkward construction.

Quote:
E) an effect that can be observed when a star appears to shift position as
clean and concise.
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Re: Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive bo  [#permalink]

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26 Nov 2019, 20:54
1
Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays, observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while its light passes near the Sun.

A) observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while
observable a noun modifier, seems to modify "light rays", however it needs to modify the whole phrase "the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays"

B) which can be observed when a star appears to shift its position during the time
Which refers to light rays, wrong.

C) an observable effect as a star appears to shift position when
"an observable effect" correctly refers to "the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays"
However, usage of as is incorrect here- as is used for simultaneous action, the intended meaning doesn't warrant that over here, rather the trigger point is "when the star appears to shift", when usage is apt here.

D) an effect observed as the appearance of a shift in the position of a star while
The appearance of a shift is totaly wrong.

E) an effect that can be observed when a star appears to shift position as

Effect that is Noun+noun modifier and refers correctly to "the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays" and usage of when is perfectly placed.
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Re: Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive bo  [#permalink]

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26 Nov 2019, 21:18
1
Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive body deflects nearby light rays, observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while its light passes near the Sun.

A) observable when a star appears to undergo a shift in position while

B) which can be observed when a star appears to shift its position during the time

C) an observable effect as a star appears to shift position when

D) an effect observed as the appearance of a shift in the position of a star while

E) an effect that can be observed when a star appears to shift position as

'which' cannot be used here as it denotes the immediate word before it. in this case the light rays are not observable, 'deflection in the gravity of a massive body' is observable. We can use an effect to describe this phenomena, so our choices narrowed down to C, D, E. In C and D, use of as....when and as...while is unidiomatic.E is the correct option IMHO.
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Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive bo  [#permalink]

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28 Nov 2019, 00:41
The official explanation is here.
Einstein's theory of relativity holds that the gravity of a massive bo   [#permalink] 28 Nov 2019, 00:41
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