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In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that,

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In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that,  [#permalink]

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New post 09 May 2016, 11:14
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In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that, Gregor Mendel already had discovered the principles of genetics, using his famous pea plant experiments, and ultimately they would explain and justify Darwin’s conclusions.

(A) In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that, Gregor Mendel already had discovered the principles of genetics, using his famous pea plant experiments, and ultimately they would explain and justify Darwin’s conclusions

(B) By the time Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man in 1871, Gregor Mendel already had discovered, during his famous pea plant experiments, the genetic principles that ultimately would explain and justify Darwin’s conclusions

(C) Gregor Mendel already discovered the principles of genetics during his famous pea plant experiments, and although later Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man in 1871, these principles ultimately would explain and justify the conclusions of Darwin.

(D) With Charles Darwin publishing The Descent of Man in 1871, Gregor Mendel discovered already before this the principles of genetics during his famous pea plant experiments, principles that ultimately would explain and justify the conclusions of Darwin

(E) Before Charles Darwin publishing The Descent of Man in 1871, already Gregor Mendel had conducted the famous pea plants experiments and had discovered the principles of genetics, but these principles ultimately would explain and justify Darwin’s conclusions

The Past Perfect Tense is one way to indicate that one past action preceded another. When is it necessarily? acceptable? redundant? For a discussion of these issues, as well as the OE of this particular question, see:
Past Perfect on GMAT Sentence Correction

Mike :-)

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Re: In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that,  [#permalink]

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New post 12 May 2016, 10:12
Hello Mike ,

Original Sentence says principles of genetics was discovered using pea plant experiments
whereas B says during the pea plant experiments ; doesnt this alter the meaning of the sentence ??
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Re: In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that,  [#permalink]

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New post 12 May 2016, 10:41
rohitkumar77 wrote:
Hello Mike ,

Original Sentence says principles of genetics was discovered using pea plant experiments
whereas B says during the pea plant experiments ; doesnt this alter the meaning of the sentence ??

Dear rohitkumar77,
I'm happy to respond. :-)

Think about what a scientific experiment is. The scientist has a question about something currently unknown, then she sets up an experiment to observe what happens on special conditions. A discovery may happen during the actual course of the experiment, "on the spot," or if the data or patterns are complicated, it may take time to process the data before one has a discovery. For practical purposes, both the time in the lab with the experimental design and the time afterwards in one's office processing all that data on a computer could both be called "during the experiment." To draw a distinction between those would be splitting hairs in a way that the GMAT does not do.

By contrast, "using the experiment" is an awkward formulation. In some sense, this is a sloppy colloquial formulation. We get the sense of what the author is trying to say, but technically, what does it mean to "use" an experiment? It's an extremely odd phrasing. Presumably, it means to learn or understand something from the data, and of course this learning happened "during the experiment." It's not really clear what kind of "using" one would do besides this.

Insofar as we can discern the meaning in (A), choice (B) formulates it more clearly.

Does this make sense?
Mike :-)
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Re: In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that,  [#permalink]

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New post 19 May 2016, 21:32
mikemcgarry wrote:
In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that, Gregor Mendel already had discovered the principles of genetics, using his famous pea plant experiments, and ultimately they would explain and justify Darwin’s conclusions.

(A) In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that, Gregor Mendel already had discovered the principles of genetics, using his famous pea plant experiments, and ultimately they would explain and justify Darwin’s conclusions

(B) By the time Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man in 1871, Gregor Mendel already had discovered, during his famous pea plant experiments, the genetic principles that ultimately would explain and justify Darwin’s conclusions

(C) Gregor Mendel already discovered the principles of genetics during his famous pea plant experiments, and although later Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man in 1871, these principles ultimately would explain and justify the conclusions of Darwin.

(D) With Charles Darwin publishing The Descent of Man in 1871, Gregor Mendel discovered already before this the principles of genetics during his famous pea plant experiments, principles that ultimately would explain and justify the conclusions of Darwin

(E) Before Charles Darwin publishing The Descent of Man in 1871, already Gregor Mendel had conducted the famous pea plants experiments and had discovered the principles of genetics, but these principles ultimately would explain and justify Darwin’s conclusions

The Past Perfect Tense is one way to indicate that one past action preceded another. When is it necessarily? acceptable? redundant? For a discussion of these issues, as well as the OE of this particular question, see:
Past Perfect on GMAT Sentence Correction

Mike :-)


this / that can not be used as pronoun refering to an preceding idea on gmat land. this is very easy error. in nytimes online newspaper, this can be used frequently. this usage is wrong on gmat. A and D are gone.
in C. there is no meaning relation for which "although" can be used. no logic, C is gone
in E, before Charles, mendel dad conduct is not logic. the logic meaning is before the action of darwin not before darwin. E gone
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In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that,  [#permalink]

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New post 20 May 2016, 04:34
mikemcgarry wrote:
In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that, Gregor Mendel already had discovered the principles of genetics, using his famous pea plant experiments, and ultimately they would explain and justify Darwin’s conclusions.

(A) In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that, Gregor Mendel already had discovered the principles of genetics, using his famous pea plant experiments, and ultimately they would explain and justify Darwin’s conclusions

(B) By the time Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man in 1871, Gregor Mendel already had discovered, during his famous pea plant experiments, the genetic principles that ultimately would explain and justify Darwin’s conclusions

(C) Gregor Mendel already discovered the principles of genetics during his famous pea plant experiments, and although later Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man in 1871, these principles ultimately would explain and justify the conclusions of Darwin.

(D) With Charles Darwin publishing The Descent of Man in 1871, Gregor Mendel discovered already before this the principles of genetics during his famous pea plant experiments, principles that ultimately would explain and justify the conclusions of Darwin

(E) Before Charles Darwin publishing The Descent of Man in 1871, already Gregor Mendel had conducted the famous pea plants experiments and had discovered the principles of genetics, but these principles ultimately would explain and justify Darwin’s conclusions

The Past Perfect Tense is one way to indicate that one past action preceded another. When is it necessarily? acceptable? redundant? For a discussion of these issues, as well as the OE of this particular question, see:
Past Perfect on GMAT Sentence Correction

Mike :-)



Hi Mike,

I have quick question about Choice E.

I saw you analysis for Choice E hut I do not understand why 'before' should be followed by full clause.

In some sentences I saw 'before' + 'participial' such as:

Before eating my dinner, I had finished my assignments.

Can you please help me clarify my misunderstanding?

Thanks in advance
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Re: In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that,  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jan 2017, 03:28
Hi Mike,
IMO In option A 'they' is ambiguous . Please correct If I am wrong .
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Re: In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that,  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jan 2017, 07:55
anje29 wrote:
Hi Mike,
IMO In option A 'they' is ambiguous . Please correct If I am wrong .

Yeah, even i think so.
In C, it should be "...had already discovered" since we are talking about two events of the past.
In D and E, "...publishing" doesn't make sense.
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In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that,  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jan 2017, 12:41
hotshot02 wrote:
anje29 wrote:
Hi Mike,
IMO In option A 'they' is ambiguous . Please correct If I am wrong .

Yeah, even i think so.
In C, it should be "...had already discovered" since we are talking about two events of the past.
In D and E, "...publishing" doesn't make sense.

Dear anje29 & hotshot02,

I'm the author of this question and I'm happy to respond. :-)

First of all, let's be perfectly clear. Choice (A) in this problem is a complete train wreck. Even with no pronoun mistake, it would be an irredeemable abomination of an answer choice.

Given that, I would say that the "they" is probably ambiguous, at least by GMAT standards. You see, the pronoun-antecedent relationship is complicated, depending on grammar & logic & rhetoric. The grammar question we ask is: what plural nouns precede the pronoun? The two plural-noun candidate are "the principles of genetics" and "famous pea plant experiments." But the first is rhetorically elevated because it is part of the focus of the sentence, whereas the second appears in a parenthetical statement, and thus is deemphasized. These two plural nouns are not symmetrical in their weight. This gives the pronoun "they" more of a link to the first noun. Of course, this is all in a gray area, and in a correct answer on the GMAT, everything about pronoun-antecedent relationship is crystal clear. In real life, the pronoun "they" would probably pass as unambiguous, but it's not up to the GMAT standards.

Two things you should appreciate:
1) There is always a great deal going on, at several different levels, with the pronoun-antecedent relationship. This will help you to appreciate what masterpieces the OAs are on official questions.
2) Even if (A) in this question had no pronoun problem, it would still be very wrong. My advice is to ignore the pronoun problem and focus on everything else that's wrong with (A).

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
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Re: In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that,  [#permalink]

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Re: In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, and before that,   [#permalink] 13 Jan 2019, 03:03
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