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# If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago

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If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago [#permalink]

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12 Nov 2013, 22:31
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If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago, hardly anyone would have understood a word of it.

A. was written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
B. were written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
C. had been written 500 years ago, hardly anybody
D. were written 500 years ago, hardly anybody
E. had written 500 years ago, hardly anyone

I came across this question in the economist gmat tutor exercise and thought of this as a good question.
What I could not understand was that why option B is incorrect.
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

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Re: If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago [#permalink]

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13 Nov 2013, 01:03
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Hello akhil911

Basic grammar rules of If-then structure.

1. True in present:
If Subject + present tense, then Subject + will + verb

2. NOT true in present (hypothetical)
IF subject + past tense, then Subject + WOULD + verb
Note: always use "WERE" rather than "was" for auxiliary verb

3. NOT true in the PAST
IF subject + Past Perfect, then subject + WOULD + HAVE + past participle

APPLY TO THE QUESTION:

If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago, hardly anyone would have understood a word of it.

Note: pleas see the NON-underlined part "would have understood" <-- signal of structure - Not true in the PAST.

A. was written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
Wrong.

B. were written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
Wrong. If "were" is correct, the non-underlined part must be "would understand". But the non-underlined part is "would have understood".

C. had been written 500 years ago, hardly anybody
Correct.

D. were written 500 years ago, hardly anybody
Wrong. Same error as in B.

E. had written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
Wrong. The novel can't write, it must be written <-- we need passive voice here.

Hope it helps.
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Re: If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago [#permalink]

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16 Nov 2013, 04:28
pqhai wrote:
Hello akhil911

Basic grammar rules of If-then structure.

1. True in present:
If Subject + present tense, then Subject + will + verb

2. NOT true in present (hypothetical)
IF subject + past tense, then Subject + WOULD + verb
Note: always use "WERE" rather than "was" for auxiliary verb

3. NOT true in the PAST
IF subject + Past Perfect, then subject + WOULD + HAVE + past participle

APPLY TO THE QUESTION:

If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago, hardly anyone would have understood a word of it.

Note: pleas see the NON-underlined part "would have understood" <-- signal of structure - Not true in the PAST.

A. was written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
Wrong.

B. were written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
Wrong. If "were" is correct, the non-underlined part must be "would understand". But the non-underlined part is "would have understood".

C. had been written 500 years ago, hardly anybody
Correct.

D. were written 500 years ago, hardly anybody
Wrong. Same error as in B.

E. had written 500 years ago, hardly anyone
Wrong. The novel can't write, it must be written <-- we need passive voice here.

Hope it helps.

The question seems to have subjunctive mood, so why use of "were" is incorrect here?
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Re: If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago [#permalink]

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16 Nov 2013, 14:07
As written above it is precisely because of the conditional mood that the "was"needs to be changed to "were" in the condition part of the sentence.

In addition, please do not forget these other possibilities for the conditional:

In the 1st conditional you may also have this: If + Present tense // Present tense

This is in effect a 'zero' conditional and is either used to depict something of a generalization/truth or a person's description of his/her character (for example)

EG If we use greener technologies at home, we save 75% on utilities bills
or
If I am given a present, I always give one back

3rd conditional structure: Had +v3 //would + have + V3

eg Had he known of the construction project beforehand, he would have taken another route to work

ALSO be aware of UNLESS sentences, also a type of conditional:

eg Unless he swims every day, he does not feel healthy.
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Re: If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago [#permalink]

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27 Nov 2014, 07:08
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Re: If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago [#permalink]

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25 Feb 2016, 01:38
pqhai

I didn't approach the question with the concept of conditionals in my mind. I picked option C because the writing part of the novel took place before 500 years. Since 'the writing' is a past event that took place before another past.,past perfect tense has to be used.

Is my approach correct.?
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Re: If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago [#permalink]

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25 Feb 2016, 05:48
narendran1990 wrote:
pqhai

I didn't approach the question with the concept of conditionals in my mind. I picked option C because the writing part of the novel took place before 500 years. Since 'the writing' is a past event that took place before another past.,past perfect tense has to be used.

Is my approach correct.?

writing of novel didnt took place 500 years ago...infact question is saying that if it had been written 500 years ago, no one would have understood it.
Its a conditional sentence where some act actually didnt happen in the past. we are assuming that if it happened, then hardly anyone could understand that writing.
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If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago [#permalink]

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26 Feb 2016, 15:54
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narendran1990 wrote:
pqhai

I didn't approach the question with the concept of conditionals in my mind. I picked option C because the writing part of the novel took place before 500 years. Since 'the writing' is a past event that took place before another past.,past perfect tense has to be used.

Is my approach correct.?

Following are two of the standard forms of conditional statements in discussion:

Case I: Unlikely Case (in the future)
IF [hypothetical subjunctive (were written)], THEN [conditional tense (would understand)].
Here, the sentence implies that the novel is unlikely to be written in future. The Conditional Tense depicts the hypothetical result (not understanding) of the unlikely condition.

Case II: Case That Never Happened (in the past)
IF [past perfect (had been written)], THEN [conditional perfect (would have become)]

Clearly case II is applicable here and hence option C is correct.

Therefore whatever way you approach, from conditionals or from concept of past perfect, you arrive at the same result. So... yes, your approach is correct.
If the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was written 500 years ago   [#permalink] 26 Feb 2016, 15:54
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