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# Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say

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Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 12 Sep 2018, 02:13
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Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say the discovery of inscribed shards dating to circa 2800–2600 B.C. indicate their development of a Harappan writing system, the use of inscribed seals impressed into clay for marking ownership, and the standardization of weights for trade or taxation occurred many decades, if not centuries, earlier than was previously believed.

(A) indicate their development of a Harappan writing system, the use of

(B) indicate that the development of a Harappan writing system, using

(C) indicates that their development of a Harappan writing system, using

(D) indicates the development of a Harappan writing system, their use of

(E) indicates that the development of a Harappan writing system, the use of

Verbal Question of The Day: Day 280: Sentence Correction

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Originally posted by tcsing on 18 Jan 2013, 04:02.
Last edited by Bunuel on 12 Sep 2018, 02:13, edited 4 times in total.
Renamed the topic and edited the question.
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QOTD: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa  [#permalink]

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09 May 2018, 22:01
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Quote:
(A) indicate their development of a Harappan writing system, the use of

A bunch of different problems come from the use of the phrase “indicate their development.” First,
“the discovery [of stuff]…” is the subject for the verb “indicate.” And that’s wrong: it would have to be “the discovery… indicates.”

Second, “their” must refer to a plural noun, and our only real options are “inscribed shards” or “excavators” – neither of which developed the Harappan writing system.

There’s a third issue, and it’s more subtle: the sentence is much clearer if we include the word “that” after indicate. Why? Well, here are two stripped-down versions of the sentence, one with “that” and one without:

• Without “that”: ”…the discovery indicated the development of a writing system… occurred many decades earlier…”
• With “that”: ”…the discovery indicated that the development of a writing system… occurred many decades earlier…”

That second sentence is much clearer, right? The sentence is trying to say that “the discovery indicated THAT {something occurred}” – so we’re much better off with “that” in the sentence.

So we have tons of reasons to ditch (A).

Quote:
(B) indicate that the development of a Harappan writing system, using

(B) has the same subject-verb error as (A): “the discovery… indicate” is wrong.

The parallelism is also a problem here. In some answer choices, we have “the discovery indicates that the development…, the use…, and the standardization… occurred many decades earlier…” Cool, that gives us three parallel nouns, and it makes sense to say that the three things all happened many decades earlier.

But in (B), “the use” has been changed to “using” – so now it’s a modifier, suggesting that “inscribed seals impressed into clay for marking ownership” were used to actually develop the writing system. And that doesn’t make much sense, since the seals that marked ownership didn't have anything to do with the development of the writing system.

So again, we have plenty of reasons to eliminate (B).

Quote:
(C) indicates that their development of a Harappan writing system, using

(C) has two familiar problems: first, “their” doesn’t make any sense. See the description of answer choice (A) for more on this issue. Second, the modifier “using…” doesn’t make sense, as described under answer choice (B).

So (C) is out, too.

Quote:
(D) indicates the development of a Harappan writing system, their use of

(D) also recycles some errors from the other answer choices. For starters, I’m not sure that “their” makes sense here, since it logically needs to refer to “Harappan”, but “Harappan” is just an adjective – not actually a plural noun. As we explained in answer choice (A), the only plural nouns earlier in the sentence are “excavators” and “shards” – neither of which would make any sense at all.

Plus, we’re much better off if the word “indicates” is followed by “that” – see the explanation of answer choice (A) for more on that issue, too.

So (D) is out, and I really really hope that (E) doesn’t suck, or else we’ll be starting over.

Quote:
(E) indicates that the development of a Harappan writing system, the use of

Oh goody, it looks like we’re OK. The subject-verb agreement (“the discovery indicates”) is correct, “indicates” is correctly followed by “that” (see answer choice (A) for more on that issue), and the parallelism is spot-on.

So (E) is our best answer.
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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26 Feb 2014, 13:26
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goodyear2013 wrote:
Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say the discovery of inscribed shards dating to circa 2800 - 2600 B.C. indicate their development of a Harappan writing system, the use of inscribed seals impressed into clay for marking ownership, and the standardization of weights for trade or taxation occurred many decades, if not centuries, earlier than was previously believed.

a) indicate their development of a Harappan writing system, the use of
b) indicate that the development of a Harappan writing system, using
c) indicates that their development of a Harappan writing system, using
d) indicates the development of a Harappan writing system, their use of
e) indicates that the development of a Harappan writing system, the use of

Dear goodyear2013,
I'm happy to help with this.

Split #1: the pronoun problem. What is the antecedent of "their" --- who are "they"??? Certainly not the excavators, the only plural group of people mentioned in the sentence. Presumably, the "they" are the ancient Harappan people, but those folks are not mentioned explicitly. We mention their civilization, but not the people themselves, and on the GMAT, every pronoun must have an antecedent mentioned explicitly in the sentence. See:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/gmat-pronoun-traps/
Here, the choices with "their", choices (A) & (D), are incorrect.

Split #2: the use of "that". In casual colloquial language, we can drop the word "that" after a cognitive verb such as "indicate" ---- "He indicates he's not going to movies with us." That would be understandable in colloquial language, but it doesn't measure up to the formal standards of the GMAT. We need the word "that" after the word "indicate." Choices (A) & (D) omit the word "that", and are incorrect.

That leaves us with (B) & (E). Both of these are grammatically correct, and the split is entirely predicated on logic. Choice (B) takes the form
... indicates that P, modifier of P, and R occurred many decades ....
Choice (E) takes the form
... indicates that P, Q, and R occurred many decades ....
In both of these,
P = the development of a Harappan writing system
R = the standardization of weights for trade or taxation
So the question is, that middle element, about using "inscribed seals impressed into clay for marking ownership" is a description of or modifier of P, or is it its own separate thing? Well, notice that P, the development of a Harappan writing system, is a cultural intellectual thing --- what alphabet, what grammar & syntax, etc. etc. The middle element is more tangible and more economic. If the middle element were purely writing, about making marks in clay that were clearly a form of writing, then we could imagine that the (B) structure would be correct. But, the middle element is about making impressions to mark ownership. This is not necessarily anything linguistic. These impressions might be analogous to the symbols used, say, in branding cattle. The value of marking ownership is a different kind of value, an economic value, different from the cultural/intellectual value of expressing language through writing. Therefore, we have to consider this a separate, independent element. Thus, the structure in (E) is correct, and the structure in (B) is not correct.

Remember, GMAT SC is not just about grammar. GMAT SC is also about logic, and logic always trumps grammar. For more on logic on the GMAT, see:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/logical-pr ... orrection/

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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18 Jan 2013, 09:05
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Hi all,

When "that" is used to connect an IC with a DC, then it is not necessary to explicitly write "that" between the two clauses.
You can read the following the article to know more about various usages of "that":

learn-how-that-can-help-you-demystify-a-long-sentence-138358.html

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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18 Jan 2013, 07:14
2
Just a few thoughts:-

You can drop "that" when it introduces or works as the direct object, but you can't do it if it works as the subject of the verb.

I thought (that) I was too shy
In this case, "I" is the subject of "thought", while "that" is a conjunction that introduces a subordinate clause that works as the direct object of the verb.
You can drop "that".

The car (that) I bought is red
In this sentence, we have a relative clause in which "I" is the subject of "bought", and "that" is a relative pronoun that is the direct object of bought. Therefore, you can drop it too.

The car that is parked outside is red.
In this case, there is another relative clause, but "that" works as the subject of "is", so you can't drop it.
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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24 May 2014, 16:20
2
gmattesttaker2 wrote:
mikemcgarry wrote:
rahulsehgal wrote:
Mike - Thanks for your detailed response. I believe, with choice B, we also have Subject Verb agreement issue as compared to choice E. Right ?

Dear rahulsehgal
Actually, my friend, that's not correct. Both (B) & (E) are 100% grammatically correct. The only thing that distinguishes them is logic and meaning. Choice (B) has a plural subject, P and R, which is in full agreement with the verb "occurred" --- past tense verbs don't change for singular & plural anyway.
Does all this make sense?
Mike

Hello Mike,

Thanks a lot for the explanation. I was just wondering what is the subject of Choice B? I was wondering if "discovery" is the subject (which is Singular) and hence if it needs to have a plural verb. I was under the impression that for Simple Present sentences like this one the rule is that a Singular subject should be followed by a plural verb. Also for the following:

Best Regards,
Sri

Dear Sri,
You know, in my above analyses, and even in my response to rahulsehgal, I totally overlooked the split at the very beginning of the underlined section. I was so focused on the SVA within the "that" clause that I missed the most obvious thing at the beginning! Yes, yes, yes, singular subject "discovery" absolutely must take the singular verb "indicates." That is clearly a BIG problem with (B), which is wrong for both grammatical and logical reasons.

Thank you very much for pointing this out, and many apologies to rahulsehgal.

Mike
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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18 Jan 2013, 05:07
1
Hi tcsing,

I can understand your concern. I also used to wonder why that is not followed by this reporting word.

Well it is advisable to use a reporting word after say, not mandatory though. An answer choice would not be incorrect just because it is not using 'that' after a reporting verb i.e. it must be having other apparent errors.

The question that you have posted is and official one, so you can take it for granted the usage of say is correct as it is not in the underlined part.

To sum up if you have two grammatically and contextually correct answer choices, the only difference is that one contains "that" after a reporting verb another doesn't then choose the one with "that"

The below usages of the verb say are totally correct.

Senators say nursing home rule is not followed
Some teachers say MPS make-up class guidelines are not followed
Apple now says it is looking into how users can reset their account passwords to ensure that their data is protected

to answer the question, it tests parallel structure

the discovery.... indicates that the development, the use of ...and the standardization of...occurred earlier than was prev believed

Hope it helps,

Vercules
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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25 May 2014, 14:31
1
gmattesttaker2 wrote:
Hello Mike,

Thank you very much for your prompt reply to my earlier post. I wanted to know if there is any rule that a Singular subject should always take a Singular Verb or if a Plural Subject should always take a Plural verb. This is something that confuses me. I was under the impression that when Simple Present tense is used, a Singular Subject will take a Plural Verb and vice-versa. Is this correct? Thanks a lot for your valuable time and help.

Best Regards,
Sri

Dear Sri,
I'm happy to respond. What you are asking concerns the topic of Subject-Verb Agreement, one of the major areas on the GMAT SC. In the Simple Present, a singular subject (the box) always takes a singular verb (is/ weighs), and a plural subject (the boxes) always takes a plural verb (are/ weigh). Again, this is a crucially important rule on the GMAT SC. Here's an article:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/subject-ve ... orrection/

Does this make sense?
Mike
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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16 Jul 2017, 09:10
1
Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say the discovery of inscribed shards dating to circa 2800 - 2600 B.C. indicate their development of a Harappan writing system, the use of inscribed seals impressed into clay for marking ownership, and the standardization of weights for trade or taxation occurred many decades, if not centuries, earlier than was previously believed.

a) indicate their development of a Harappan writing system, the use of

- as discovery is singular, it should be "indicates" and not indicate.
- "their" does not have a clear antecedent.

b) indicate the the development of a Harappan writing system, using

- as discovery is singular, it should be "indicates" and not indicate
- "using" is not parallel to "development" and "standardization"

c) indicates that their development of a Harappan writing system, using

- "their" does not have a clear antecedent
- "using" is not parallel to "development" and "standardization"

d) indicates the development of a Harappan writing system, their use of

- "their" does not have a clear antecedent

e) indicates that the development of a Harappan writing system, the use of

- CORRECT - indicates is correctly referring to discovery, the use of is parallel to development and standardization.

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Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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27 Jan 2019, 08:06
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Top Contributor
andi.
Let's us not forget logic, my friend. Do you mean to say that the excavators developed the Harappan writing system some 4500 years and are still living?

There are two clauses, one with excavators as the subject and the other with discovery as the subject. It is not difficult to discriminate between the two.
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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26 Feb 2014, 18:39
Mike - Thanks for your detailed response. I believe, with choice B, we also have Subject Verb agreement issue as compared to choice E. Right ?
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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27 Feb 2014, 11:34
rahulsehgal wrote:
Mike - Thanks for your detailed response. I believe, with choice B, we also have Subject Verb agreement issue as compared to choice E. Right ?

Dear rahulsehgal
Actually, my friend, that's not correct. Both (B) & (E) are 100% grammatically correct. The only thing that distinguishes them is logic and meaning. Choice (B) has a plural subject, P and R, which is in full agreement with the verb "occurred" --- past tense verbs don't change for singular & plural anyway.
Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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24 May 2014, 11:37
mikemcgarry wrote:
rahulsehgal wrote:
Mike - Thanks for your detailed response. I believe, with choice B, we also have Subject Verb agreement issue as compared to choice E. Right ?

Dear rahulsehgal
Actually, my friend, that's not correct. Both (B) & (E) are 100% grammatically correct. The only thing that distinguishes them is logic and meaning. Choice (B) has a plural subject, P and R, which is in full agreement with the verb "occurred" --- past tense verbs don't change for singular & plural anyway.
Does all this make sense?
Mike

Hello Mike,

Thanks a lot for the explanation. I was just wondering what is the subject of Choice B? I was wondering if "discovery" is the subject (which is Singular) and hence if it needs to have a plural verb. I was under the impression that for Simple Present sentences like this one the rule is that a Singular subject should be followed by a plural verb. Also for the following:

Sandy plays with her friends

is it correct here that Sandy is the (singular) subject and plays is the (plural) verb? I was kind of using this sentence as an example while solving the above.

Best Regards,
Sri
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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24 May 2014, 18:09
mikemcgarry wrote:
rahulsehgal wrote:
Mike - Thanks for your detailed response. I believe, with choice B, we also have Subject Verb agreement issue as compared to choice E. Right ?

Dear rahulsehgal
Actually, my friend, that's not correct. Both (B) & (E) are 100% grammatically correct. The only thing that distinguishes them is logic and meaning. Choice (B) has a plural subject, P and R, which is in full agreement with the verb "occurred" --- past tense verbs don't change for singular & plural anyway.
Does all this make sense?
Mike

Hello Mike,

Thank you very much for your prompt reply to my earlier post. I wanted to know if there is any rule that a Singular subject should always take a Singular Verb or if a Plural Subject should always take a Plural verb. This is something that confuses me. I was under the impression that when Simple Present tense is used, a Singular Subject will take a Plural Verb and vice-versa. Is this correct? Thanks a lot for your valuable time and help.

Best Regards,
Sri
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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26 May 2014, 00:58
Hi Mike,

I have a small here. While discarding option B you used the following reasoning ,

You simplified the question to a parallel structure of the form, indicates that P, modifier of P, and R.

I want to ask, can't we consider the second entity in the parallel structure as a gerund phrase instead of thinking of it as a modifier that modifies the first entity P.

Can we ever have a construction where we have 3 parallel structure X, Y, and Z where

X = participial phrase in a verb-ed form.
Y = participial phrase in a verb-ing form.
Z= participial phrase in a verb-ed form again similar to X.

Will in this case Y be still considered as a modifier of the X instead of as a participial phrase parallel to the other two entities?

I discarded option B based on the subject-verb disagreement problem and not on the modifier problem. I considered the second entity as a gerund phase and since gerund phrases act as nouns , I thought it keeps the parallelism intact by being parallel with the other two entities which are Noun phrases.

Many Thanks.
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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26 May 2014, 15:26
Hi Mike,

I have a small here. While discarding option B you used the following reasoning ,

You simplified the question to a parallel structure of the form, indicates that P, modifier of P, and R.

I want to ask, can't we consider the second entity in the parallel structure as a gerund phrase instead of thinking of it as a modifier that modifies the first entity P.

Can we ever have a construction where we have 3 parallel structure X, Y, and Z where

X = participial phrase in a verb-ed form.
Y = participial phrase in a verb-ing form.
Z= participial phrase in a verb-ed form again similar to X.

Will in this case Y be still considered as a modifier of the X instead of as a participial phrase parallel to the other two entities?

I discarded option B based on the subject-verb disagreement problem and not on the modifier problem. I considered the second entity as a gerund phase and since gerund phrases act as nouns , I thought it keeps the parallelism intact by being parallel with the other two entities which are Noun phrases.

Many Thanks.

I'm happy to respond.

This gets into a very subtle issue: simple gerunds vs. complex gerunds. A simple gerund is simply the -ing form of the verb, used as a noun (e.g. "using"). A complex gerund has an article and perhaps an adjective (e.g. "the using of", or "the advance using of"). A simple gerund can never be in parallel with ordinary nouns, but a complex gerund can be in parallel with ordinary nouns. That's why "using" can't be interpreted as a gerund, and "the using of" would be so incredibly awkward that it wouldn't be right either.

As to your second question, yes, theoretically, one could have three participles in a row modifying a noun, past-present-past, and all three modifying the noun, by that would be a rare literary form, not at all likely to show up on the GMAT.
The soldier, wounded twice, still feeling pain, shattered in his confidence, was not able to return to the front lines.
What you are suggesting, past-present-past, with the middle modifier modifying the first participle ---- well, I guess that would be possible, but I am not going to try a concoct a sentence for that example, and I would bet the Star of India that it would NEVER appear on the GMAT.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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28 May 2017, 11:38
Top Contributor
1
If this were a rapid-fire round, remove choices A, C, and D for using the pronoun 'their' without a logical referent and B for erring on S-V number agreement. E remains.
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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14 Sep 2017, 12:09
'A' and 'B' were eliminated, as indicate does not agree with the discovery. 'C' and 'D' - eliminated use of 'their' is not correct in the sentence, no reference. Thus, "E" is the correct choice- In the sentence, 'indicates' agrees with 'discovery' and is followed by that to introduce a clause. Also, the three parallel phrases begin with an article (the), a noun, and the preposition of are correctly used.
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Re: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say  [#permalink]

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14 Sep 2017, 14:50
Hello there,

Just wanted to say that AnubhavK has done a very precise analysis of this official sentence. Great job there. Keep up the good work.

I just want to say something about the parallel entities in the correct answer choice.

Yes, incidentally, all the three parallel elements start with article the followed by noun phrase and preposition phrase.

However, it is not necessary that the parallel elements need to be this identically parallel in structure. As long as the core elements play the same role in the sentence, they make a grammatical parallel list.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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Re: QOTD: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa  [#permalink]

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10 May 2018, 01:15
Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa in eastern Pakistan say the discovery of inscribed shards dating to circa 2800–2600 B.C. indicate their development of a Harappan writing system, the use of inscribed seals impressed into clay for marking ownership, and the standardization of weights for trade or taxation occurred many decades, if not centuries, earlier than was previously believed.

(A) indicate their development of a Harappan writing system, the use of - subject-verb agreement issue - discovery needs singular indicates

(B) indicate that the development of a Harappan writing system, using - subject-verb agreement issue - discovery needs singular indicates

(C) indicates that their development of a Harappan writing system, using - pronoun their antecedent issue -- antecedent excavators is non-sense

(D) indicates the development of a Harappan writing system, their use of - pronoun their antecedent issue -- antecedent excavators is non-sense

(E) indicates that the development of a Harappan writing system, the use of - Correct

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Re: QOTD: Excavators at the Indus Valley site of Harappa   [#permalink] 10 May 2018, 01:15

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