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# Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were

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Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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23 Sep 2004, 16:54
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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
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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11 Mar 2005, 00:25
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nocilis wrote:
I go with A
In E "which" is pointing to the closest noun Susan Huntington Dickinson and that would be wrong!

From the OG itself:

From the bark of the paper birch tree the Menomini crafted a canoe about twenty feet long and two feet wide, with small ribs and rails of cedar, which could carry four persons or eight hundred pounds of baggage yet was so light that a person could easily portage it around impeding rapids.

"which" here obviously doesn't refer to cedar, rather, it refers to "canoe". The noun that the nonrestrictive clause modifies doesn't necessarily need to be immediately proceed the comma. The OG concept is that it cannot refer to a vague idea that is expressed in the entire sentence, and that it must point to a noun (again, not necessarily immediately before the comma). For example, you can't say:
"The earth is not flat, which had puzzled many people in the old days."

Just my two cents.
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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11 Mar 2005, 12:10
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Ah ... I know where I made the mistake. I was correct when saying that "which" should point to the closest subject and it does, but wrong in identifying the subject.

"Emily Dickinsonâ€™s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were ..."

"to Susan Huntington Dickinson" is a prepositional phrase and not the subject. Emily Dickinson's letters is the subject and 'which' is correctly pointing to it.

HongHu, in your sentence from OG,

From the bark of the paper birch tree the Menomini crafted a canoe about twenty feet long and two feet wide, with small ribs and rails of cedar, which could carry four persons or eight hundred pounds of baggage yet was so light that a person could easily portage it around impeding rapids

about twenty feet long and two feet wide is a prepostional phrase and with small ribs and rails of cedar is a parenthetical element/additional info. The subject is "canoe", so 'which' appropriately points to it.

Thanks Honghu for pointing me my error.
A thorough analysis helps me remember.
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2010, 23:33
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Yes even i chose A because of the 'WHICH' in E though E looked better.

For those of you who are still confused with this question, heres something i gathered from manhattan:

First of all, 'WHICH' refers to previous noun no doubt but in sentences as clear as these, 'which' can in no way refer to Dickinson, who is a person. So it should refer to subject of the first part that is 'letters written'.

"
occasionally, when it is completely unambiguous, "which" can refer to a whole NOUN PHRASE that immediately precedes the comma.
in this case, this noun phrase is "X's letters to Y". (note that this noun phrase, as a unit, does immediately precede the comma.)

also, note the complete lack of grammatical ambiguity: "which" can't refer to dickinson, who is a person, and it's also followed by a plural verb. both of these pieces of evidence point to the noun phrase "X's letters to Y".

--

here's the basic summary:
if you have "X of Y, which..."
then:
* if Y works as the antecedent of "which", then "which" should stand for Y.
* if Y doesn't work as the antecedent, but "X of Y" DOES work, then "which" can stand for "X of Y"....."

Also, use of participle 'outnumbering' is not required here....it's not the period over which the letters were written that outnumber but it is the letters that outnumber letters to anyone else.

"...using a present participle phrase to express the (direct/indirect) result of the preceding clause is not allowed when the preceding clause is in a passive voice...."
--> from manhattan

Verbal is full of exceptions...
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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11 Nov 2004, 11:36
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twixt wrote:
Actually I was between A & E. Chose E as gerund in A was not so clear while outnumber in E makes sense when you erase all the relative clause.
Anyway what is the killer trick here ?

the kingpin is that, "outnumber" is used as verb in choice "E". the correct sentence is this : BLUE PART

Emily Dickinsonâ€™s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susanâ€™s marriage to Emilyâ€™s brother and ending shortly before Emilyâ€™s death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else

no other choice construct grammatically correct sentence.

hope this will help
Dharmin
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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11 Mar 2005, 00:08
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A. Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susanâ€™s marriage to Emilyâ€™s brother and ending shortly before Emilyâ€™s death in 1886, outnumbering
- participle 'ountnumbering' is wrong. It suggests that the letters are still being written.

B. Dickinson were written over a period that begins a few years before Susanâ€™s marriage to Emilyâ€™s brother and ended shortly before Emilyâ€™s death in 1886, outnumber
- 'begins' is the wrong tense here.

C. Dickinson, written over a period beginning a few years before Susanâ€™s marriage to Emilyâ€™s brother and that ends shortly before Emilyâ€™s death in 1886and outnumbering
- 'that ends shortly' is wrong

D. Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susanâ€™s marriage to Emilyâ€™s brother, ending shortly before Emilyâ€™s death in 1886, and outnumbering
- 'outnumbering is out'

E. Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susanâ€™s marriage to Emilyâ€™s brother and ending shortly before Emilyâ€™s death in 1886, outnumber
- This is my chioce. 'which' to introduce the modifier (modify letters), and outnumber to state that the letters are no longer written but they outnumber any other letters she has wrote

E it is.
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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24 Jul 2013, 06:51
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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.

Thanks.
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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07 Oct 2007, 10:02
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gluon 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. Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan HuntingtonDickinson 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

E. Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan HuntingtonDickinson, 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

Quote:
BTW what is exactly wrong with A anyways? A and E are in the same voice whether it is passive or active the difference being A eliminates the erroneous placement of which.

Very interesting discussion going on here and that too on a topic that I confess is very dear to me!

Let's deal with this beast in two parts -

The problem with A is the participle OUTNUMBERING. As written in A, it clearly modifies period which is definitely not right. It must refer to letters.

In E on the other hand, it's quite clear what outnumber is referring to - letters.

However, of course, E seems to have a problem with the placement of which. We all know this fact cold that GMAT doesn't like the placement of which to be fiddled with in any way - and it must without fail appear immediately after the noun it's supposed to displace.

Thus - The Community hall in the townsquare which we all like is already booked for another marriage.

We know that which must refer to the community hall - but here it's appearing immediately after townsquare causing a GENUINE confusion in the reader's mind as to which of the two do WE ALL LIKE? Community Hall or Townsquare?

Compare this with another scenario -

All my requests to George which were to make him aware of his mistakes went unheeded by him.

Here IMO - the object of the preposition TO, George can't be modified by which; hence by logical extension, which modifies requests.

I don't want to contradict what we have all learnt about the usage of which and the restriction that it should be as close as possible to the noun it's intended to modify; all I am saying is, if a prepositional phrase intervenes between the which and the proable subject - so long as which can unambigously refer to the earlier subject and NOT the object of the preposition (as in the case of George above and UNLIKE the case of the townsquare earlier) we are OK.

In our example in this question - the scenario is simlar - it talks about Letters to Dickinson which --- again, the prepositional TO DICKINSON does not affect the relationship between which and Letters. Also, Dickinson can't be qualified by which anyway. You need WHO in the relative clause for an animate object like dickinson.
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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18 Feb 2014, 10:12
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jrashish wrote:
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

pl review my analysis.

Q. 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

Meaning
ED wrote letters to SH over a period of time
Started before Susan marriage and ended before Emilys death

Error Analysis
1) 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

The sentence has only one clause.
S-V is correct
V is correctly placed in past tense (passive voice-simple past)
Parallelism is correct.... beginning and ending
Pronoun...her refers correctly to Emily
Meaning is clear
idioms...none
modifiers...beginning and ending correctly modifies period
....outnumbering also correctly adds information to the preceding clause

POE
A is correct
B & C parallelism issue
D fragment
E placement of which is not next to letters

I was confused b/w A & E, but for the stated reason selected A.

I dont find any grammatical error in A.

Pl clarify

Dear Ashish,

First, let's address the reason that you eliminated option E. Logically, "which" can only refer to "letters" here, and not to "Susan Huntington Dickinson" (since she's a person and "which" can't refer to people). Since the logical antecedent is clear, "which" doesn't need to be placed right next to "letters".

Second, option A can be eliminated in two ways: from the standpoint of meaning, and from that of grammar. The first is the explanation given in the OG. If I were to summarize the main point of this sentence, I'd say: "Emily Dickinson wrote more letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson than she wrote to anyone else." The period in which the letters were written is secondary to the main point of the sentence. In option A, "outnumber" is not even a verb: it's a verb-ing modifier. It doesn't make much sense to say that the main point of the sentence is to tell us when the letters were written.

Also, if you're unable to decide what the main point of the sentence is, you can apply the rules about verb-ing modifiers to this question. A verb-ing modifier placed after a comma either describes the preceding action or presents a result of the preceding action. The latter option is clearly ruled out in this case, so we're left with the former. Does "outnumbering" describe "were written"? It doesn't. The fact that the letters were written during a specific period isn't logically related to the fact that the letters outnumber Dickinson's letters to anyone else. So, the verb-ing modifier "outnumbering" doesn't make sense here. We clearly need the verb "outnumber" in the correct answer.

I hope this helps to clarify your doubt.

Regards,
Meghna
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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11 Mar 2005, 19:14
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nocilis wrote:
I was correct when saying that "which" should point to the closest subject and it does

Point to Note...

Also, (A) is passive construction..
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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28 Sep 2010, 06:59
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amolsk11 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 beginsa 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 1886and 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

I solved it in different manner, I didn't bothered much about "Which". As "outnumbering" doesn't make sense we are left with only B and E option.

In Option B check out the highlighted portion above, the portion which makes this choice wrong. The highlighted portions needs to be in same tense. So we are left with only choice E.

Also, I think this questions is from OGs as this questions seems familiar!
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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09 Mar 2006, 20:24
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I will also go with E.
' letters to Susan Hunting ...........outnumber '
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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07 Oct 2007, 10:14
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dwivedys wrote:
gluon 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. Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan HuntingtonDickinson 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

E. Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan HuntingtonDickinson, 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

Quote:
BTW what is exactly wrong with A anyways? A and E are in the same voice whether it is passive or active the difference being A eliminates the erroneous placement of which.

Very interesting discussion going on here and that too on a topic that I confess is very dear to me!

Let's deal with this beast in two parts -

The problem with A is the participle OUTNUMBERING. As written in A, it clearly modifies period which is definitely not right. It must refer to letters.

In E on the other hand, it's quite clear what outnumber is referring to - letters.

However, of course, E seems to have a problem with the placement of which. We all know this fact cold that GMAT doesn't like the placement of which to be fiddled with in any way - and it must without fail appear immediately after the noun it's supposed to displace.

Thus - The Community hall in the townsquare which we all like is already booked for another marriage.

We know that which must refer to the community hall - but here it's appearing immediately after townsquare causing a GENUINE confusion in the reader's mind as to which of the two do WE ALL LIKE? Community Hall or Townsquare?

Compare this with another scenario -

All my requests to George which were to make him aware of his mistakes went unheeded by him.

Here IMO - the object of the preposition TO, George can't be modified by which; hence by logical extension, which modifies requests.

I don't want to contradict what we have all learnt about the usage of which and the restriction that it should be as close as possible to the noun it's intended to modify; all I am saying is, if a prepositional phrase intervenes between the which and the proable subject - so long as which can unambigously refer to the earlier subject and NOT the object of the preposition (as in the case of George above and UNLIKE the case of the townsquare earlier) we are OK.

In our example in this question - the scenario is simlar - it talks about Letters to Dickinson which --- again, the prepositional TO DICKINSON does not affect the relationship between which and Letters. Also, Dickinson can't be qualified by which anyway. You need WHO in the relative clause for an animate object like dickinson.

this one baffled me.. thanks for the explanation/analysis
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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10 Oct 2010, 23:44
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Nice catch on the "comma which" rule. Just referred to Ron's explanation in the MGMAT forum

Copy+paste of his summary

if you have "X of Y, which..."
then:
* if Y works as the antecedent of "which", then "which" should stand for Y.
* if Y doesn't work as the antecedent, but "X of Y" DOES work, then "which" can stand for "X of Y".
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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15 Jun 2012, 21:02
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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 Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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02 Apr 2013, 13:07
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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 Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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08 Jun 2013, 04:09
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egmat wrote:
Hi @buffaloboy,

Use of "which" is absolutely correct in the correct answer choice. To know the reason why, please read the article by clicking on the following link:
noun-modifiers-can-modify-slightly-far-away-noun-135868.html

If you have question regarding the article or this official question, then do post it here.
Hope this helps.
Thanks.

I have following reason to eliminate option 'A'.
please correct me if my line of reasoning is wrong.

In option 'A' "outnumbering" "-ing modifier" takes tense from the clause it is modifying.
In option "A' tense is past,which would not be correct.
because emily dickinson letter to susan still outnumber her letter to anyone else i.e. a facts,so simple present is correct,while the tense of a clause is past tense.

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

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09 Jun 2013, 03:21
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ankurgupta03 wrote:
WarriorGmat wrote:
egmat wrote:
Hi @buffaloboy,

Use of "which" is absolutely correct in the correct answer choice. To know the reason why, please read the article by clicking on the following link:
noun-modifiers-can-modify-slightly-far-away-noun-135868.html

If you have question regarding the article or this official question, then do post it here.
Hope this helps.
Thanks.

I have following reason to eliminate option 'A'.
please correct me if my line of reasoning is wrong.

In option 'A' "outnumbering" "-ing modifier" takes tense from the clause it is modifying.
In option "A' tense is past,which would not be correct.
because emily dickinson letter to susan still outnumber her letter to anyone else i.e. a facts,so simple present is correct,while the tense of a clause is past tense.

Bingo!!
Outnumbering should not be used here ... precisely for the reason you have stated

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

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25 Jul 2013, 11:32
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Thanks a lot shraddha, by far the best post and explanation on -ING modifiers. #respect
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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20 Aug 2016, 06:34
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velozjose wrote:
Hi everyone

Nice discussion here.

The comma + verb-ing modifier (ending) modifies marriage right?

Although is parallel to beginning, it should not be preceded by a comma.

Thanks folks!

Sent from my iPhone using GMAT Club Forum mobile app

Hi
In choice (D), ending acts as a Verb-ing Modifier.
Point 1. Verb-ing modifier always modifies the preceding clause, as in this case, the highlighter part :
(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

Point 2. Replacing Relative Pronoun "which" with Letters, the sentence becomes:
(D) Dickinson, Letters 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
I suppose when you referred to parallelism, you meant "beginning" and "outnumbering".
So, Letter were written over a period beginning and outnumbering her letters to anyone else.
The statement above does not make sense and hence is incorrect.

Personal recommendation: Enroll for e-gmat free trial course, they cover the Verb-ing and Verb-ed modifiers beautifully.
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were   [#permalink] 20 Aug 2016, 06:34

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