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# Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were

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Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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23 Sep 2004, 15:54
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Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering her letters to anyone else.

(A) Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering

(B) Dickinson were written over a period that begins a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ended shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber

(C) Dickinson, written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and that ends shortly before Emily’s death in 1886 and outnumbering

(D) Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother, ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, and outnumbering

(E) Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber

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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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04 Nov 2010, 23:19
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Let us appreciate, that the gist of the passage is that Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan outnumber Emily’s letters to any one else (even today-so we use the present tense verb - outnumber) and the writing of the letters over some period is just an incidental factor to the main action. If you remove the parenthetical and inessential content, then the main purpose will pop up. This will facilitate dropping all the choices containing – outnumbering i.e A ,C and D

Between B and E, B is awful with out a conjunction to connect the verb - outnumber -with the first part of the passage, turning the sentence into a run-on. E is the choice.
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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19 Aug 2011, 10:59
got the 'which' part. so both A and E are grammatically correct.
So the issue now remains that of meaning.
Choice A emphasizes on the period during which the letters were written.
Choice E emphasizes on the fact that the letters outnumber her letters to anyone else.

Usually if there is nothing wrong with the meaning in A, we stick to it assuming that it is the author's intended meaning.

Why do we switch to the meaning in E here?

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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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22 Aug 2011, 11:00
Thanks daagh.

I agree that Sentence correction is more than the grammar rules.

I totally understand how E is correct.

I am more concerned about why A is incorrect. Can you explain more clearly what is wrong with A's meaning. To me, A's meaning totally makes sense. So why not stick to the meaning in the original sentence? How do you know that the intended focus is the one in E? I had initially eliminated E for the which modifier issue discussed above. Am clear with that but stuck on the meaning part now.

I find nothing wrong with A's meaning. How do we know that the focus is meant to be on the letters and not the period?
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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25 Jan 2012, 05:15
Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering her letters to anyone else.

A. Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering. Distorts the meaning.
B. Dickinson were written over a period that begins a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ended shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber
C. Dickinson, written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and that ends shortly before Emily’s death in 1886 and outnumbering
D. Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother, ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, and outnumbering. This sentence does not has a main Verb. It is a fragment.
E. Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber......Correct.

What this sentence is saying is, Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington outnumber her letters to anyone else.

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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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08 Mar 2012, 10:22
This was definitely a tough question.

The answer I picked was E:

A. The verb-ing modifier "outnumbering" was the reason I did not pick this answer. This modifier should be modifying the entire clause. However, it doesn't seem to do that. Rather, outnumbering seems to be like an afterthought of the main clause.

B. The word "begins" is in the wrong tense - it should be "began" which is in the simple past tense. Also, there are parallelism issues here - "that begins" is not parallel to "ended."

C. The modifier starting with "written" modifies the noun phrase "Emily Dickinson's..." but there is no main verb to finish off the sentence. Therefore, this sentence is fragment and cannot be the correct answer. Also, there is a parallelism issue here with "beginning" and "that ends."

D. This sentence seems to put equal emphasis on beginning, ending and outnumbering. Although it appears to be parallel, this is superficial parallelism. We are talking about when the letters were written - beginning before the marriage and ending shortly before Emily's death. So, outnumbering should not be part of the parallel elements because it doesn't logically make sense. Also, the main clause does not have main verb, so this is a sentence fragment.

E. This sentence maintains parallelism and there is good SV agreement. At first I thought "which" modifies Susan Huntington Dickinson, but upon careful analysis, I know that it doesn't make sense. My reason was because the "to Susan..." phrase can't be clearly placed anywhere else without causing confusion. For example, if we put that phrase after the giant modifier, the sentence becomes confusing.

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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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08 Mar 2012, 15:57
There is nothing wrong with A .

Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson : subject were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering her letters to anyone else.

outnumbering verb applies to the subject of the main clause it precedes .

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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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15 Jun 2012, 20:02
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May I butt in once again on this vexed question of the touch rule of the relative pronoun ‘which?’

First thing is that the intent of this text is to highlight primarily Dickinson’s letters to Susan outnumber her letters to anyone else. That they were written during a certain period is just a modifier, not very essential to the core. That is the reason that, writing and ending, which are addendums, need not parallel the primary action outnumber. In the context of understanding this subtlety of meaning, this passage is even more relevant to current thinking of GMAT.

Now to the relative pronoun ‘which”. What can ‘which’ refer to in choices D and E.? As per bare theory, it should refer to Dickinson who is a human and hence the use of ‘which’ is outrightly wrong. Secondly, the plural verb points out to some plural subject, and letters is the only plural that can antecede ‘which’. The prepositional phrase namely to Susan Huntington Dickinson is an essential modifier of the letters and therefore we are required to carry it along with the subject.
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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22 Nov 2012, 06:02
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thangvietnam wrote:
I get the right answer but do not understand why A is wrong.

is A not logic?

Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and
ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering her letters to anyone else.

This is wrong.
, ING modifier modifies the entire preceding clause which cannot be the case here.

Cosider the following examples,

I bought the lottery tickets, hoping to win the lottery. CORRECT
here hoping.... modifies the preceding clause i.e it provides reason as to why I bought the lottery.

The teacher was mad at me, asking to come to the principal's office. WRONG
Here asking to me ..... cannot modify the clause "the teacher was mad at me", but rather the ING clause only provides additional information.

Does that help?
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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02 Apr 2013, 12:07
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Choice A is incorrect because of modifier error.
"outnumbering her letters to anyone else" should modify the letters but its placement is such that it appears to modify the preceding clause.

Notice that comma + verb-ing modify the preceding clause. And this modification does not make sense here. This is because it was not because the letters were written in the specified period that these letters outnumbered the other set of letters. In fact these two actions - were written and outnumber are really two different characteristics of the letters.

Lets consider an example sentence:
The film was shot in a small town of Guthernberg, exceeding expectations of the producers.
This sentence is incorrect since the verb-ing modifier appears to modify preceding clause and in this sentence this modification does not make sense. The fact that the film was shot in a small town did not really lead to exceeding the expectations of the producers.

The correct sentence is:
The film, shot in a small town of Guthernberg, exceeded the expectations of the producers.

The sentence simply states a fact that this film exceeded the expectations. It does not provide any reasoning for the same.

The film received significant critical acclaim, exceeding the expectations of the producers.
This sentence is correct. In this sentence, the verb-ing modifier makes complete sense with the preceding clause. The expectations of the producers were exceeded by virtue of the film receiving significant critical acclaim.

Hope this helps
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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23 Jul 2013, 21:20
WaterFlowsUp wrote:
is the participle is A, modifying 1886? that is my 1st question. Someone please answer who is sure of it

Definitely not "1886" (and I am sure about it:)). In this case, it is modifying the entire clause, but the meaning is not making sense. The fact that letters "over a period of time", is not in anyway related to the fact that those letters outnumbered Emily Dickinson’s letters to anyone else.
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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23 Jul 2013, 21:58
1. Participle does modify the attached noun, isn't it? So in this case if we try to assume that it is modifying 1886 thus providing a time frame how would that be wrong??
2. participle can also modify subject/verb/clause , it has the flexibility. correct? then can we say it is modifying letters?
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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23 Jul 2013, 22:02
Ashish, Outnumber is a verb. In that case it can only modifiy another verb. so does it modify "letters were written" ?
if yes, can we say verb modifies the letters aptly so that we can rule out options with 'outnumbering'?
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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23 Jul 2013, 22:35
WaterFlowsUp wrote:
Ashish, Outnumber is a verb. In that case it can only modifiy another verb. so does it modify "letters were written" ?
if yes, can we say verb modifies the letters aptly so that we can rule out options with 'outnumbering'?

Hi waterflowsup.

I can clarify a bit for you.

(1) "outnumber" is a verb and modifies a noun (Emily Dickinson’s letters), not another verb.

(2) We rule out "outnumbering" because of modifier problem.

Let see the original sentence:
Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering her letters to anyone else.

As we know, Verb-ing modifier + comma ==> modifies a preceding clause.
==> Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan outnumber her letter to anyone else because they were written over a period blah blah..... Does it make sense? No, it does not. The main point is: Emily Dickinson's letter to SS outnumber her letter to anyone else, NOT "were written over a period....."

Hope it helps.
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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23 Jul 2013, 23:11
WaterFlowsUp wrote:
1. Participle does modify the attached noun, isn't it? So in this case if we try to assume that it is modifying 1886 thus providing a time frame how would that be wrong??
2. participle can also modify subject/verb/clause , it has the flexibility. correct? then can we say it is modifying letters?

Oh no. The rules for participles are not that simplistic. As you would perhaps know, participial phrases (and not participles themselves) that appear at the beginning of the sentence modify the word immediately next to it. For example:

Here, the participle is "preparing" modifies "WaterFlowsUp.

The usage of participles is not just about what they are modifying. There should be a "direct and simultaneous" effect that should be attributed to participles used towards end of the sentences. This is where A fails.
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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24 Jul 2013, 00:19
With Due respect pghai,

1 .Verb modifier always under all situations, has to modify another verb. It describes things like how, when, etc etc....So outnumber as a verb, how can it refer to letters which happens to be the Subject?

My question is, verb-ING modifier, can refer to Subject, entire Clause. In this case why do we presume it modifies the clause(I know the answer says it does) ? It can also refer to Letter(Subject).
I understand in either case it remains as the wrong answer, I am just trying to do Root Cause Analysis in IT terms
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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24 Jul 2013, 02:22
WaterFlowsUp wrote:
@ Ashish,
Could you please write a small doc explaining the participial phrases that is separated by a comma and are at the end? It would immensely useful for people like me getting stuck at something very basic.
Tons of thanks for the help

Well, as I mentioned in my post, participial phrases (specifically present participial phrases) preceded by a comma towards the end of the sentence should express "direct and simultaneous" effect that should be attributed to the subject of the immediate preceding clause.

The reason "direct and simultaneous" effect is important, is because, for example, the following option in one of the GMATPrep questions is incorrect, because drawing solid conclusions is not "direct and simultaneous" effect of the previous clause.

Neuroscientists have amassed a wealth of knowledge over the past twenty years about the brain and its development from birth to adulthood, now drawing solid conclusions about how the human brain grows and how babies acquire language.

Not sure there is a lot more to it than this, to merit a "doc" : )
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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24 Jul 2013, 04:22
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WaterFlowsUp wrote:
what exactly do u mean by direct and simultaneous?

What I meant was that the action expressed by the participial phrase must be "simultaneous and directly atributable" to the main clause. For example:

Following would be correct: Tendulkar scored 40th century, breaking the previous record for highest number of centuries in test cricket.

But following would not be correct: Tendulkar worked hard during his childhood days, breaking the previous record for highest number of centuries in test cricket.

Quote:
BTW are you saying there are tons of hidden concepts in the adverbial phrase modifiers which we need to dig out?

Actually when I said not sure there is a lot more to it than this, to merit a "doc" , what I meant was that there isn't too much apart from this (of course every question is unique, but this framework would largely sail you thru). Apologies if my earlier reply was not clear.

Past participles by the way, work in a different manner. Case in point is #28 from OG-12, where following is the correct option (all GMAT instructors including myself consider OG as bible):

Building on civilizations that preceded them in coastal Peru, the Mochica developed their own elaborate society, based on the cultivation of such crops as corn and beans, the harvesting of fish and seafood, and the exploitation of other wild and domestic resources.

Here, the "past participle" phrase "based on the cultivation..." clearly modifies "society", the word prior to it.
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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24 Jul 2013, 05:51
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WaterFlowsUp wrote:
@ Ashish,
Could you please write a small doc explaining the participial phrases that is separated by a comma and are at the end? It would immensely useful for people like me getting stuck at something very basic.
Tons of thanks for the help

Hi WaterFlowsUp,

Let me try to explain the function of “verb-ing modifiers” when preceded by a comma.

When a “verb-ing modifier” appears after a clause and is preceded by a comma, then it modifies the action of the preceding clause. It modifies the action of the preceding clause in two ways:
1. By presenting the HOW aspect of the preceding action
2. By presenting the result of the preceding action

Now let’s analyze the usage of comma + outnumbering… in the official sentence.

Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering her letters to anyone else.

So ED wrote letters to SHD. Comma + outnumbering… modifies the preceding action “were written”. Since this modifier has two functions, let’s see which one fits here.
ED’s letters were written to SHAD by outnumbering her letters to anyone else. This modification suggests that ED wrote letters to SHD by outnumbering her letters to anyone else. This seems to be an action done deliberately. But this is not logical.

Now let’s check the second usage. ED’s letters were written SHD and as a result of this action, the letters outnumbers ED’s letters to anyone else. Do we really have a cause-effect here? Certainly not. None of the functions done by the comma + verb-ing modifier makes sense in this sentence. This is the reason why Choice A is incorrect.

You may read the following articles to know more about the comma + verb-ing modifiers:

usage-of-verb-ing-modifiers-135220.html
verb-ing-modifiers-part-2-in-our-first-article-on-verb-ing-135567.html
verb-ed-modifiers-vs-verb-ing-modifiers-125611.html

Also, this concept is covered in our Free Concepts. You can register on e-gmat for free and access this concepts along with many others. All these concepts have pre-assessment and post assessment quizzes through which you can gauge your knowledge of these concepts. So click on the “free trial” button and start learning for free.

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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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25 Nov 2013, 02:30
karanthakurani wrote:
Hi Egmat,

Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering her letters to anyone else.

(A) Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering
(B) Dickinson were written over a period that begins a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ended shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber
(C) Dickinson, written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and that ends shortly before Emily’s death in 1886 and outnumbering
(D) Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother, ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, and outnumbering
(E) Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber

here in choice A 'outnumbering her letters to anyone else' is acting as verbing modifier and modifying the previous clause 'Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written....' still the choice A is wrong.
Also outnumbering makes sense with letters.
OG says it is unclear what outnumbering refers to. Please highlight on this.

Thanks,
Karan

Hi Karan,

Thank you for posting your query here.

Choice A is incorrect because of modifier error. Let us see the reason behind it.

Note that "outnumbering her letters to anyone else" should modify the letters but its placement is such that it appears to modify the preceding clause.

Notice that comma + verb-ing modify the preceding clause. And this modification does not make sense here. This is because it was not because the letters were written in the specified period that these letters outnumbered the other set of letters.

In fact these two actions - were written and outnumber are really two different characteristics of the letters.

Lets consider an example sentence:

The film was shot in a small town of Guthernberg, exceeding expectations of the producers.

This sentence is incorrect since the verb-ing modifier appears to modify preceding clause and in this sentence this modification does not make sense.The fact that the film was shot in a small town did not really lead to exceeding the expectations of the producers.

The correct sentence is:

The film, shot in a small town of Guthernberg, exceeded the expectations of the producers.

The sentence simply states a fact that this film exceeded the expectations. It does not provide any reasoning for the same.

The film received significant critical acclaim, exceeding the expectations of the producers.

This sentence is correct. In this sentence, the verb-ing modifier makes complete sense with the preceding clause. The expectations of the producers were exceeded by virtue of the film receiving significant critical acclaim.

Hope this helps

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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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05 Jan 2014, 13:23
marine wrote:
Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering her letters to anyone else.

(A) Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering
(B) Dickinson were written over a period that begins a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ended shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber
(C) Dickinson, written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and that ends shortly before Emily’s death in 1886 and outnumbering
(D) Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother, ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, and outnumbering
(E) Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber

This is so obviously a "parallel" question.

A) most of the sentence sounds good except the last portion. If we're going to use the verb-ing form, then the last parallel (outnumbering) needs to be preceded by "and" (and even at that, the inclusion of "and" would be wrong). So A is gone

B) Here we have errors in tense. "begins" implies present while "ended" implies past and "outnumber" implies present. This is not acceptable for correct parallelism. B is gone

C) Similar problems as with B: "beginning" and then we have "ends" and then we have "outnumbering"... Two present participles and one simple present. This is incorrect. C is gone

As far as D and E goes, we need to be very careful. Many people will erroneously assume that "outnumbering" is correctly parallel to "beginning" and "ending", but that's an error in comprehension of meaning. The author means to say that her letters to Susan outnumber the letters to anyone else. Thus, "and outnumbering" incorrectly gives the letters to Susan certain attributes that do not necceserily have anything to do with the letters. Only "beginning" and "ending" are parallel.

That's why D is wrong. E on the other hand correctly parallels beginning and ending, and THEN goes on to tell us that these letters outnumber Emily's letters to anyone else. So E is correct

Kudos [?]: 83 [0], given: 47

Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were   [#permalink] 05 Jan 2014, 13:23

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# Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were

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