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In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dict

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In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dict  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 11 Oct 2018, 23:44
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In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dictionary more comprehensive than the world had ever seen; although the project would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary had been born.


(A) would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary had been

(B) took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was

(C) would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was being

(D) would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was

(E) took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was about to be

Originally posted by jay02 on 11 Feb 2008, 06:48.
Last edited by Bunuel on 11 Oct 2018, 23:44, edited 3 times in total.
Renamed the topic and edited the question.
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New post 30 Dec 2011, 13:18
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In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dictionary more comprehensive than the world had ever seen; although the project would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary had been born.

A. would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary had been
B. took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was
C. would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was being
D. would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was
E. took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was about to be

This sentence is confusing because it feels as if we are moving around between past, present, and future, so here's a simpler way of reading it, with sort of a vertical timeline to keep track of verb tenses:
Before 1860: The world "had [n]ever seen" such a comprehensive dictionary
1860: comprehensive dictionary creation "launched".
1860-1920: it "would take"/"took" 60 years to finish
~1920: The OED "had been"/"was"/"was being"/"was about to be" born

"would take" vs. "took"
At this point in the sentence, the dictionary wasn't finished yet, so we can't say "took" 60 years to finish because that implies that it's already completed-- it has to be "would take", because we're looking forward from the past while we are in the present (strange to think about in real life, but it works in grammar-world).

"had been" vs. "was vs. "was being"
Because the completion of the dictionary was a one-time action that has a definite date ("more than 60 years", so sometime around 1920), we have to say "was". "had been" implies that it happened even before the creation was "launched" in 1860 (the same tense as "a dictionary more comprehensive than the world had ever seen"), which isn't true. "was being" is past progressive, which would mean it wasn't completed just yet, but we know that it's already done.

Answer Choice D is the only one with both "would take" and "was".

This is pretty tricky, so feel free to let me know if you'd like more explanation or have any other questions!
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New post 23 Apr 2013, 06:02
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Hi Friends,

I chose B as well during exam.

However I did some research and wanted to share it with you all.
Whenever something is in present tense, we use simple future tense.

Ex - He is saying that he will.......xyz
Simple Present + Simple Future

If something is said in past, use a conditional tense and not simple future
Ex - He said that he would........xyz
Simple past + Conditional future

Now in this question -

In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dictionary more comprehensive than the world had ever seen; although the project would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary had been born.

The first part before semi colon is perfect -
In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dictionary more comprehensive than the world had ever seen;
when one event happens before the other in past - we use 'had'.

The send part of the sentence -
although the project would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary had been born.
So the birth happens before it's completion. and we are talking about past+future.
We have to use conditional here.
D) would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was

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Re: In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dict  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Feb 2008, 13:26
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Between B and D. I think it is D.

1860 the Philological Society launched its effort || the Oxford English Dictionary was born - past indefinite.
(before 1860) the world had ever seen - past perfect
(after 1860) the project would take more than 60 years to complete - future in the past
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New post 14 Oct 2010, 06:55
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You will use would in the following instances.

When the main verb of the sentence is in past tense, and whey you want to express something that will be happening thereafter in the future, you will use the past tense of will i.e. would

E.g. I knew well even before the test that I would not make the grade.

Tom realized much later that going to the pub with Dick and Harry would cost him a fortune

But would also can be used to mark some polite plea such as

Would you mind getting me a glass of water!
Would you please give me a loan on my house!
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New post 15 Oct 2010, 10:22
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@daagh, That's a great explanation! We use "would" to describe the future from a past tense point of view, which is the situation we have in this question. This usage isn't super common, but it's definitely good to know and is fair game for testing on the GMAT.

Another situation in which you'd see the "would" construction is with abstract hypothetical situations:

If the two companies merged, the resulting corporation would be unstoppable.
If I were rich, I would buy a house in the Bahamas.

In these types of conditional statements, the condition (or "if" statement) will be in the past tense and the result will have "would + verb root".
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New post 25 Jan 2011, 13:40
great explanation about the "took"/"would take" split daagh.

Another quick clue--the launch of the PS's effort *was* the birth of the OED, so those two tenses should match up. "Had been" is in the past perfect, and would imply that the birth happened *before* the other specified past event (the launch).

Sometimes if I have a question about whether to use a perfect tense or not, I do a quick sketch of the events in a timeline. Any event in the same "slot" along that timeline should have matching tenses.


[pre-1860 ]---------------[1860]---------------[post-1860]

[other dictionaries: "the world had ever seen"]-----[PS Launched effort/OED born]-----[project completed]
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New post 23 Jun 2011, 09:31
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To understand this question in its right perspective, let us put ourselves in 1860 and look ahead from then on.

In 1860, the project was just launched and certainly it had not taken 60 years nor took 60 years at the point. It would be taking a further 60 years to complete. Hence ‘took’ is wrong and ‘would take’ is right
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New post 05 Mar 2012, 13:54
As referenced on this post: http://www.gmatpill.com/practice-questi ... orrection/

"Would take" = the period from 1860 to 60 years from that - so that would be 1860 looking forward til 1920ish

You would only use "took" if you were from the perspective of some future date (like today's present) and you looked back at 1860 and say that it took 60 years. But in that case, you would have to differentiate the distinct time of the "birthing" of the book and use "had been born". You need to do this to show which of the 2 past events happened first. The dictionary was born first, and then it as completed. So "it had been born"..and then "it was completed" is what we want.

So you have two options:
(1) would take......was born
"would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was

or

(2) took...had been born..
""took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary has been born"
Hope that helps.
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New post 30 Jun 2012, 08:49
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Hi All,

In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dictionary more comprehensive than the world had ever seen; although the project would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary had been born.

Image

In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dictionary that would be more comprehensive than any other dictionary the world had ever seen. So how did it launch the effort? It launched the effort by starting its work on the Oxford English Dictionary. Even if this dictionary was born in 1860, it would take 60 years to be completed.

Image

Error Analysis:

We must keep in mind here that the sentence is talking about all the events that took place in 1860. That’s the time period for this sentence.
This sentence correctly uses the conditional word “would take” because, the dictionary was just born in 1860. It was not completed then. So we are talking about a future event in past. Hence “would take” is absolutely correct. Use of “had been born” is incorrect because past perfect tense is used to denote the earlier of the two events that took place in the past. Past perfect establishes sequence between the two past actions. Here, we don’t have two past actions for 1860. Only the dictionary was born then. It is a general information, which should be written in simple past tense.

POE:

A would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary had been: Incorrect for the reason discussed above.

B took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was: Incorrect. The context of this sentence is set in 1860. The OED was not completed then. Hence, “took” is not the correct verb tense.

C would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was being: Incorrect. The verb “was being born” suggests that this action was ongoing. This is not correct because the OED was born. The action of taking birth was completed already.

D would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was: Correct.

E took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was about to be: Incorrect.
i. This choice repeats the same verb tense error of Choice B.
ii. Verb “about to be born” suggests that the OED was not born yet. This is not the intended meaning. The OED was born.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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Re: In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dict  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Oct 2012, 02:41
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monikaleoster wrote:
Please Explain

In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dictionary more comprehensive than the world had ever seen; although the project would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary had been born.

a.would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary had been
b.took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was
c.would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was being
d.would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was
e.took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was about to be



Very difficult question, I think this is
Again Kudos to manhattan gmat!
"born" is being used as a metaphor (of course, since a dictionary can't literally be born :) ). In this case "born" means it was started. Logically, the start needs to occur before the completion.

A. Had been is incorrect. It means the dictionary was created before the launch of the effort.
B. two simple past tense (took and was born) indicates both essentially happened at around the same time. That means the dictionary was created at the same time it was started. That is NOT the case. In fact it happened 60 years after that. So we need "had been born" in this sentence
C. was being born is awkward. It means that the starting event of creating the dictionary is an ongoing process, which most certainly is not.
E. about to be born is incorrect. this means that the "birth" of the oxford dictionary happened after it was created. Not logical.

D. Correct option. "would" is not simple past. It is a conditional verb which goes fine with simple past "was born" unlike option B.
Hope this helps.
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Re: In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dict  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Apr 2013, 17:47
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Hi,

Believe me when I got this one, I did not understand the question and got it wrong.
However, I invested about 1 hour to understand this question and I hope I'll never make this kind of a mistake again.
Let us look at the choices one by one -


A) would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary had been

Look at these words- would and had been. Now for 'had' there must be 2 events in the past and one must have happened before the other. But 'would' is a form of conditional future tense. Hence wrong.

B) took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was

Look at these words - took and was. Both are in simple past. Now one event has surely occurred before the other. First the birth and then it was completed. So we cannot use both simple past terms here.


C) would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was being

Look at these 2 - would and was being. Was being is past progressive and would is conditional future. It makes no sense together.

D) would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was
As explained earlier, whenever a past tense and future tense need to be used together, one has to use conditional future and not simple future. He said that he would buy a car and not He said that he will buy a car.

E) took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was about to be
Took and was are both simple past. But one event happens after another and we cannot use simple past here
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New post 06 Sep 2013, 09:30
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Meaning is the KEY to solve this question. We have an idea that the dictionary "was born" first, and it was completed 60 years later. It means two actions "born" and "complete" are NOT simultaneous.

In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dictionary more comprehensive than the world had ever seen; although the project took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was born.

A took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was
Wrong. If we use simple past tense for both action "complete" and "born", automatically, we assume two actions are simultaneous. But that's not the case here. If we use "took", we have to use past perfect for "born".

B would have taken more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary had been
Wrong. Even though the past perfect tense (had been) seems correct, the structure "would have taken" <-- reflect condition --> is wrong.

C took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was being
Wrong. "was being born" is absolutely awkward.

D would take more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was
Correct. This is a reporting structure for an action happened in the past. ["is born" + "will take"] ==> ["was born" + "would take"].
Please note: "would take...." is NOT a condition sentence.

E took more than 60 years to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was about to be
Wrong. "was about to be born" is absolutely wrong.

Hope it helps.
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New post 13 Sep 2014, 22:29
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Here's our take on it.

Official Explanation:



The sentence discusses several actions using the simple past tense: the Society launched a project, the Dictionary was born, and the project took more than 60 years to complete. Logically, these actions cannot all have happened at the same moment, so it is inappropriate to use the simple past tense for every action. The birth and launch are the same thing, and so took place at the same time, but the completion took place 60 years later. Look for a choice that indicates this difference in time.

(A) This choice is incorrect as it uses the simple past tense for actions that must have taken place at different times in the past.

(B) The first verb has changed to would have taken. This conditional form changes the meaning, implying that the books’ completion was only hypothetical; it did not actually occur. Consider this example: the test normally would have taken 3 hours to complete, but she finished early.

(C) The present participle being is used with the progressive tense to indicate a continuing or ongoing action. Logically, however, the Dictionary's start must have been at a single point in time, rather than over the course of the book's development. The sentence also illogically implies that the launched and took 60 years actions occurred simultaneously.

(D) CORRECT. This choice uses an unusual (but completely acceptable) construction. Would take is an example of a future tense written from the point of view of the past. For example, consider this conversation: “I will go to the movies with you.” “What? I didn’t hear you.” “I said I would go to the movies with you.” In the last sentence, the word would is an example of a future tense from a past point of view: I said (in the past) that I would (in the future) go to the movies with you. This timeframe fits the actions given in the problem: the Dictionary was born (at a point in time in the past) and would take more than 60 years (from that point in time forward) to complete.

(E) This choice incorrectly adopts the construction was about to be born, which conflicts with the non-underlined portion of the sentence. The first half of the sentence indicates that the project was launched in 1860 in the past tense, making any reference to the book being about to be born at some future point in time incorrect.
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New post 29 Mar 2015, 19:21
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The past perfect ("had been born") is used when there are two past actions and we want to indicate which one happened first. In the underlined portion of the sentence, however, the other verb, "would take," is not in the past tense, so we need to use the simple past "was born." (Remember that we always use the most simple tenses allowed; the perfect tenses, and other complicated tenses, are used only when required by the sentence structure.) The second half of the sentence stands in contrast to the first half, in which the simple past "launched" is correctly paired with the past perfect "had seen."

(A) This choice is incorrect as it repeats the original sentence.

(B) This choice changes both the first and second verbs to simple past ("took" and "was born," respectively). In this circumstance, we have two events that took place at different times in the past, which requires use of the past perfect to indicate which event happened first. The dictionary's "birth" obviously happens before its completion, so correct usage would be that the "Dictionary had been born." In B, if it is ‘had been born’, it will become CORRECT.

(C) The present participle "being" is used with the progressive tense to indicate a continuing or ongoing action. Logically, however, the Dictionary's start must have been at a single point in time, rather than over the course of the book's development.

(D) CORRECT. This choice correctly uses the simple past "was born." A more complicated past tense is not required because the other verb "would take," is not in the past tense.

(E) This choice incorrectly adopts the construction "was about to be born," which conflicts with the non-underlined portion of the sentence. The first half of the sentence indicates that the project was "launched" in 1860 in the past tense, making any reference to the book being "about to be born" at some future point in time incorrect.
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New post 05 Nov 2015, 03:49
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In this question, the most critical factor is the year 1860.

Point 1 - The project was launched 1860. There is no event that occurred earlier than that and hence our beginning point should be in simple past namely ‘was’. Had been in A, was being in C and was about to be in E are all incorrect. We are now left with B and D.

Point 2 – In 1860, the project was just conceived ( meaning was born - don’t say conception is not the same as birth). But it was going to take another 60 years to complete; as far as 1860 is concerned, the completion would be a future event. 1860 was the inauguration of the project and not the completion. So we cannot say it ‘took’ 60 years in 1860. We have to say it ‘would take’. Logically, B is out and D is in.
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New post 22 Apr 2016, 02:42
Personally I see no problem in using the B option, it's gamatically correct. The use of "took more than 60 years to complete" emphasises the fact that it took a long time ti finish, but eventually it was done.

HOWEVER that is not the intended meaning of the original sentence. The original meaning is to transmit the idea that the project will take a lot of time to complete, but even so, dispite all future challanges, it has been started.

So there is this slim change of meaning here. IMO :)
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New post 25 Apr 2016, 12:31
iliavko wrote:
Personally I see no problem in using the B option, it's gamatically correct. The use of "took more than 60 years to complete" emphasises the fact that it took a long time ti finish, but eventually it was done.

HOWEVER that is not the intended meaning of the original sentence. The original meaning is to transmit the idea that the project will take a lot of time to complete, but even so, dispite all future challanges, it has been started.

So there is this slim change of meaning here. IMO :)


Attachment:
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Untitled.png [ 6.46 KiB | Viewed 3368 times ]


Past tense of will = Would

We use would to convey the meaning that the initiative taken to compile a dictionary started back in 1860's was completed in 1920...
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Re: In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dict  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Oct 2016, 16:51
What is chronology here?

World had ever seen-------> launched (1860)------ > took-----------> born
Why answer is saying
World had ever seen-------> launched (1860)-----------> born------ > took

What am I missing?
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Re: In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dict  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Oct 2016, 03:57
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nahid78 wrote:
What is chronology here?

World had ever seen-------> launched (1860)------ > took-----------> born
Why answer is saying
World had ever seen-------> launched (1860)-----------> born------ > took

What am I missing?


The correct sentence -->

In 1860, the Philological Society launched (in 1860) its effort to create a dictionary more comprehensive than the world had ever seen (before 1860); although the project would take more than 60 years (60 years starting from 1860) to complete, the Oxford English Dictionary was born (in 1860).

"would take" is the past future - when we talk about the past and in that we refer to the future
We are talking about the past (1860) and at that time, we are talking about 60 years in the future.
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Re: In 1860, the Philological Society launched its effort to create a dict   [#permalink] 13 Oct 2016, 03:57

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