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NASA’s methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has not yet answ

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NASA’s methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has not yet answ  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 23 Oct 2018, 00:48
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NASA’s methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has not yet answered the questions of whether biological life forms ever emerged on Mars and whether, presuming such life forms having left fossil traces to begin with, those traces can still exist in some moist recesses of the cold and arid planet.


(A) and whether, presuming such life forms having left fossil traces to begin with, those traces can

(B) and whether, if it is presumed that such life forms left some fossil traces to begin with, can those traces

(C) and whether, presuming such life forms left fossil traces to begin with, those traces

(D) and, presuming such life forms did leave some fossil traces to begin with, if they can

(E) and, presuming such life forms to have left fossil traces to begin with, if they


https://www.nytimes.com/1999/09/21/science/beginning-a-bargain-basement-invasion-of-mars.html

Eventual objectives are to return samples of rock and soil, perhaps by 2008, and someday send astronauts for a long visit. Behind this methodical approach is the enduring question of whether life ever emerged on Mars and left some fossil traces, and whether it still exists in some moist recesses of this cold, arid world.


Verbal Question of The Day: Day 160: Sentence Correction


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Originally posted by souvik101990 on 21 Nov 2017, 14:39.
Last edited by Bunuel on 23 Oct 2018, 00:48, edited 1 time in total.
Renamed the topic and edited the question.
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Re: NASA’s methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has not yet answ  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Nov 2017, 20:51
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A. and whether, presuming such life forms having left fossil traces to begin with, those traces can

The parallelism looks pretty OK to me here. "NASA’s methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has not yet answered the questions of whether biological life forms ever emerged on Mars and whether... those traces can still exist....

The trouble appears to be that pesky little modifier in the middle of the underlined portion: "...presuming such life forms having left fossil traces to begin with..." It would be fine to say "presuming such life forms left fossil traces to begin with" -- but I can't make any sense of the phrase "having left" in this case. You could say something like "having left a mess in his pigpen, Wilbur proudly trotted off to make a mess somewhere else" -- the "having + verb" needs to be the first of two actions, as it is in my silly example. But I can't come up with any interpretation of "having left" in (A) that would make any sense at all, especially when one of the answer choices is clearly much better.

Plus, there's no good reason to use the word "can" in this situation. Is NASA trying to figure out whether the fossil traces can still exist -- or does NASA just want to know whether the fossil traces actually still exist? I'd argue for the latter.

So we can get rid of (A).

Quote:
B. and whether, if it is presumed that such life forms left some fossil traces to begin with, can those traces

Well, this is a hot mess: "NASA’s methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has not yet answered the questions of whether biological life forms ever emerged on Mars and whether... can those traces still exist.... Um... "whether can those traces"? Seriously? That's ridiculous -- and the word "can" doesn't make any sense in this context anyway, as discussed in answer choice (A).

The modifier in the middle of the underlined portion is a much smaller problem, but it's still a problem: "if it is presumed" isn't nearly as clean as just "presuming." But that's a minor issue.

(B) is out.

Quote:
C. and whether, presuming such life forms left fossil traces to begin with, those traces

Much better! The heart of the parallelism is completely fine here: "NASA’s methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has not yet answered the questions of whether biological life forms ever emerged on Mars and whether... those traces still exist.... No problem. And it's great that the word "can" has been removed, too.

The modifier in the middle of the underlined portion is also much better than the versions in (A) and (B): "presuming such life forms left fossil traces to begin with" makes sense here. Or at least more sense than the alternatives. Keep (C).

Quote:
D. and, presuming such life forms did leave some fossil traces to begin with, if they can

We have some issues here, even if we ignore that modifier in the middle of the underlined portion: "NASA’s methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has not yet answered the questions of whether biological life forms ever emerged on Mars and...if they can still exist.... The first problem is that there's no good reason to use "if" after the "and." I suppose that you could argue that it's not parallel to "whether", but more importantly, I'm pretty sure that "if" can only be used in a conditional statement (otherwise known as an "if-then statement": "if I eat fourteen dosas and seven kati rolls, then I will be happy...") on the GMAT, and (D) isn't a conditional statement. In these situations, the GMAT always seems to prefer "whether" over "if."

Plus, you could argue that the pronoun "they" is ambiguous, because it could plausibly refer back to "life forms" or "fossil traces." Pronoun ambiguity isn't an absolute rule on the GMAT, but it's also not ideal if you can avoid it.

And then we still have the issue with the word "can", as described in (A). So we can get rid of (D), too.

Quote:
E. and, presuming such life forms to have left fossil traces to begin with, if they

(E) has two of the same errors as (D): "they" is arguably ambiguous and "if" is not as good an option as "whether." Plus, there's no reason to say "presuming such life forms to have left fossil traces to begin with." Just "left" would have been fine.

So (E) can be ditched, and (C) is the best we can do.
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Re: NASA’s methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has not yet answ  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Nov 2017, 23:29
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NASA’s methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has not yet answered the questions of whether biological life forms ever emerged on Mars and whether, presuming such life forms having left fossil traces to begin with, those traces can still exist in some moist recesses of the cold and arid planet.

A. and whether, presuming such life forms having left fossil traces to begin with, those traces can
Traces can? Having left?

B. and whether, if it is presumed that such life forms left some fossil traces to begin with, can those traces
Whether can ? Redundancy

C. and whether, presuming such life forms left fossil traces to begin with, those traces
Correct

D. and, presuming such life forms did leave some fossil traces to begin with, if they can
Whether if? Redundancy

E. and, presuming such life forms to have left fossil traces to begin with, if they
Whether if? Redundancy
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Re: NASA’s methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has not yet answ  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Nov 2017, 04:14
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Just looking at the grammar and structure alone,

A. and whether, presuming such life forms having left fossil traces, to begin with, those traces can --- having left is wrong diction, we need a verb rather than a participle here.

B. and whether, if it is presumed that such life forms left some fossil traces to begin with, can those traces -- use of whether and if in the same clause is incongruous.

C. and whether, presuming such life forms left fossil traces to begin with, those traces -- the correct choice

D. and, presuming such life forms did leave some fossil traces to begin with, if they can -- 1. The use of the conditional is wrong'. We have a dilemma here and therefore, only 'whether' is the correct diction.

E. and, presuming such life forms to have left fossil traces to begin with, if they-- the same problem as in D.

The only nagging doubt is whether the modifier clause in the second part starting with 'presuming can modify 'those traces' in C as well as A?
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Re: NASA’s methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has not yet answ  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Dec 2018, 22:51
souvik101990 wrote:
NASA’s methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has not yet answered the questions of whether biological life forms ever emerged on Mars and whether, presuming such life forms having left fossil traces to begin with, those traces can still exist in some moist recesses of the cold and arid planet.


(A) and whether, presuming such life forms having left fossil traces to begin with, those traces can

(B) and whether, if it is presumed that such life forms left some fossil traces to begin with, can those traces

(C) and whether, presuming such life forms left fossil traces to begin with, those traces

(D) and, presuming such life forms did leave some fossil traces to begin with, if they can

(E) and, presuming such life forms to have left fossil traces to begin with, if they


A) "Having" participle makes no sense here
B) "Whether can those traces" is a fragment, "if" clause also could be written better
C) Correct
D, E) Not parallel -> "Whether if" is not correct.
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NASA’s methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has not yet answ  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Dec 2018, 19:27
(A) and whether, presuming such life forms having left fossil traces to begin with, those traces can
The issue with (a) is the "having". Since there is no form of be (is/was/are/be) "having" isn't acting as a verb, but rather a modifier.

(B) and whether, if it is presumed that such life forms left some fossil traces to begin with, can those traces
Issue: "whether..can" is illogical

(C) and whether, presuming such life forms left fossil traces to begin with, those traces
Good.

(D) and, presuming such life forms did leave some fossil traces to begin with, if they can
"Whether... and..if" aren't parallel? Use if in "if/then" constructions (careful though as the "then" can be omitted) otherwise use whether.

(E) and, presuming such life forms to have left fossil traces to begin with, if they
"Whether... and..if" aren't parallel. Use if in "if/then" constructions (careful though as the "then" can be omitted) otherwise use whether.
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Re: NASA's methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has  [#permalink]

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Re: NASA's methodical approach to the exploration of Mars has   [#permalink] 30 Aug 2019, 04:18
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