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# Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed”

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Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed”  [#permalink]

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04 Apr 2019, 09:02
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31% (01:56) correct 69% (01:52) wrong based on 484 sessions

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Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed” Yosemite’s El Capitan in 2017, climbing the 3,000-foot wall without the aid of any ropes in just under four hours.

A - Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed” Yosemite’s El Capitan in 2017, climbing the 3,000-foot wall without the aid of any ropes in just under four hours.

B - Once thought impossible, El Capitan was “free soloed” for the first time in 2017 by Alex Honnold, who climbed the 3,000-foot wall in just under four hours without the aid of any ropes.

C - Alex Honnold “free soloed” Yosemite’s El Capitan in 2017, climbing the 3,000-foot wall without the aid of ropes in just under four hours and becoming the first person to achieve a feat that was once thought to be impossible.

D - In 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to “free solo”—climb without the aid of any ropes—Yosemite’s 3,000-foot El Capitan in just under four hours, a feat that was once thought to be impossible.

E - In 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to “free solo” Yosemite’s El Capitan—a feat once thought impossible—climbing the 3,000-foot wall without the aid of any ropes in just under four hours.

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Re: Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed”  [#permalink]

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05 Apr 2019, 19:18
3
fogarasm wrote:
C - This one's a bit harder to articulate. As a native english speaker, this sounds very awkward, so compared to E, which has no errors, it was an easy choice to eliminate. But I know that's not super helpful, so I'm hoping someone else can fill you (and me) in on specifically why it is wrong.
Great job on the other options! Let's put everything together:

Option A: By placing Alex Honnold after once thought to be impossible, this option implies that Alex Honnold was once thought to be impossible. Meaning call.

Option B: By placing El Capitan after once thought impossible, this option implies that El Capitan was once thought to be impossible. However, it is actually the "free solo" of El Capitan that was once thought to be impossible, not El Capitan itself. Meaning call. "Was 'free soloed'" is passive and therefore avoidable (the main reason to remove this option remains the meaning call though).

Option C: Becoming the first person to achieve a feat that was once thought to be impossible does not link the "feat once thought impossible" idea to "the free solo of El Capitan", so this option makes it sound as if Alex Honnold became the first person ever to achieve any feat that was thought to be impossible. That is, no other person in history had ever achieved any "impossible" feat before Alex Honnold achieved this particular feat. It'd also be better to keep the "in 2017" bit outside the first clause, so that the focus ("impossible feat") remains on "free solo" (and not "free solo in 2017").

Option D: This option includes the "in just under four hours" bit in the "impossible feat" idea, which is not likely to be the intended meaning. "Yosemite’s 3,000-foot El Capitan" makes it harder for the reader to understand that there is only one El Capitan, because the "3,000-foot" bit could be misinterpreted (maybe there is a 5,000-foot El Capitan ).

Option E: The best of the 5 options, although we need to overlook the slight ambiguity (there in option D as well) introduced by "X became Y—a feat once thought impossible" (this could mean that "X became Y" is what was once considered impossible).
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Re: Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed”  [#permalink]

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21 Apr 2019, 19:07
3
globaldesi wrote:
Hi
Can you explain why D is wrong. Doesn't the sentence actually means that it was an impossible feat and "in just under four hours" is correct.
Here are the sentences we get with D and E:

D Alex Honnold became the first person to “free solo” Yosemite’s 3,000-foot El Capitan in just under four hours, a feat that was once thought to be impossible. (I've removed "climb without the aid of any ropes")

E Alex Honnold became the first person to “free solo” Yosemite’s El Capitan—a feat once thought impossible—climbing the 3,000-foot wall without the aid of any ropes in just under four hours.

In D, the "impossible feat" is after the clause that contains "free solo in four hours", which means that the impossible feat is that the free solo was done in four hours. For example:

He ran the mile in under four minutes, a feat once thought impossible. ← This doesn't mean that running a mile was considered impossible. It means that running a mile in under 4 minutes was considered impossible, which is the correct meaning (in this case).

In E, the "impossible feat" bit is in the middle, just after "free solo" but before "four hours". This means that "four hours" is not included in the impossible feat.

The people who made this question probably added the "to be" after thought and 3000-foot El Capitan because they didn't think that there was enough in the sentence to help a test taker to choose between D and E purely on the basis of meaning. Although it is not incorrect to say 3000-foot El Capitan, it opens the sentence up to some ambiguity. For example:

They climbed Nepal's 29,000-foot Mount Everest. ← This usage is not exactly unheard of, but it could imply that there is more than one Mount Everest.
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Re: Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed”  [#permalink]

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30 Apr 2019, 07:16
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Wulfang wrote:
In option E, how is 'climbing' modifying the preceding clause without having a comma before it.

Here's how I'd look at it:

1) The information separated by dashes ("a feat once thought impossible") is definitely a modifier.

2) If it were a normal appositive modifier ("Honnold free-soloed El Capitan, California's famous sheet of granite, climbing...") no one would have any problem with "climbing" there because it would come after a comma. But the comma there wouldn't exist solely to set up "climbing" as a modifier - its other job is to complete the appositive modifier (in this case "California's famous sheet of granite").

3) In this case, "a feat once thought impossible" isn't a modifier of the adjacent noun phrase "Yosemite's El Capitan" so I can see why dashes may be more appropriate for setting up that modifier.

4) And then at that point you'd never put a comma right after a dash, so the dash is performing the role that the comma would have played had the modifier "Yosemite's El Capitan" been a more classic appositive modifier.

5) And I think this is really important: hard questions are going to use less-common, less-familiar structures so you'll often face situations like (E) where you don't quite know "the rule" but you have to prioritize: does it violate a major rule that you *know* is a fatal flaw (like the bad modifiers in A and B)? If not, be patient until you've eliminated 3-4 answer choices to see if you need to make that less-common decision or not. Here I think you can find enough wrong with A-D that if you see that the dashes (which you know can separate modifiers) basically serve the same purpose as commas and you know you'd never use "--," as a structure, you can be confident that E is "peculiar, but not necessarily wrong." One of my favorite quotes about SC is from my Veritas Prep colleague and co-author Chris (who has climbed, but not free-soloed, El Cap several times): "I learn a lot about grammar by using good strategy on official SC problems, eliminating four answer choices, and looking at the strange construct that's left and thinking 'huh, I didn't know you could do that.' And then over the next few weeks reading the New York Times, The Economist, etc. I'll see that construct a few times and realize "yep, the GMAT knows what's it's doing." And what he means by that is you can't prepare for every unique structure out there...you just have to get really good at prioritizing the common errors and train yourself to live with and think about (e.g. "that doesn't break any rules I know of and it preserves a logical meaning so I guess that's okay") some of the stranger things. Which is what makes SC a 'reasoning' question type and not a pure grammatical memorization type.
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Re: Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed”  [#permalink]

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05 Apr 2019, 17:13
1
Skyline393 wrote:
Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed” Yosemite’s El Capitan in 2017, climbing the 3,000-foot wall without the aid of any ropes in just under four hours.

A - Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed” Yosemite’s El Capitan in 2017, climbing the 3,000-foot wall without the aid of any ropes in just under four hours.

B - Once thought impossible, El Capitan was “free soloed” for the first time in 2017 by Alex Honnold, who climbed the 3,000-foot wall in just under four hours without the aid of any ropes.

C - Alex Honnold “free soloed” Yosemite’s El Capitan in 2017, climbing the 3,000-foot wall without the aid of ropes in just under four hours and becoming the first person to achieve a feat that was once thought to be impossible.

D - In 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to “free solo”—climb without the aid of any ropes—Yosemite’s 3,000-foot El Capitan in just under four hours, a feat that was once thought to be impossible.

E - In 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to “free solo” Yosemite’s El Capitan—a feat once thought impossible—climbing the 3,000-foot wall without the aid of any ropes in just under four hours.

Not an expert here, just my reasoning:

A & B - "Once thought impossible/to be impossible" must modify what comes directly after it. In this case, neither Alex Honnold, nor El Captian is "thought to be impossible". Furthermore, B uses the passive tense: "El Capitan was free soloed" - which is less preferable on the GMAT (not an auto disqualification though).

C - This one's a bit harder to articulate. As a native english speaker, this sounds very awkward, so compared to E, which has no errors, it was an easy choice to eliminate. But I know that's not super helpful, so I'm hoping someone else can fill you (and me) in on specifically why it is wrong.

D - This one changes the meaning—it sounds like it was the fact that it took him only 4 hours to climb El Capitan that was thought be impossible. Instead, it's that he climbed it at all.

E - Clear, concise, and no errors.
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Re: Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed”  [#permalink]

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04 Apr 2019, 22:57
Can anyone explain all the answers?

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Re: Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed”  [#permalink]

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21 Apr 2019, 11:21
AjiteshArun wrote:
fogarasm wrote:
C - This one's a bit harder to articulate. As a native english speaker, this sounds very awkward, so compared to E, which has no errors, it was an easy choice to eliminate. But I know that's not super helpful, so I'm hoping someone else can fill you (and me) in on specifically why it is wrong.
Great job on the other options! Let's put everything together:

Option A: By placing Alex Honnold after once thought to be impossible, this option implies that Alex Honnold was once thought to be impossible. Meaning call.

Option B: By placing El Capitan after once thought impossible, this option implies that El Capitan was once thought to be impossible. However, it is actually the "free solo" of El Capitan that was once thought to be impossible, not El Capitan itself. Meaning call. "Was 'free soloed'" is passive and therefore avoidable (the main reason to remove this option remains the meaning call though).

Option C: Becoming the first person to achieve a feat that was once thought to be impossible does not link the "feat once thought impossible" idea to "the free solo of El Capitan", so this option makes it sound as if Alex Honnold became the first person ever to achieve any feat that was thought to be impossible. That is, no other person in history had ever achieved any "impossible" feat before Alex Honnold achieved this particular feat. It'd also be better to keep the "in 2017" bit outside the first clause, so that the focus ("impossible feat") remains on "free solo" (and not "free solo in 2017").

Option D: This option includes the "in just under four hours" bit in the "impossible feat" idea, which is not likely to be the intended meaning. "Yosemite’s 3,000-foot El Capitan" makes it harder for the reader to understand that there is only one El Capitan, because the "3,000-foot" bit could be misinterpreted (maybe there is a 5,000-foot El Capitan ).

Option E: The best of the 5 options, although we need to overlook the slight ambiguity (there in option D as well) introduced by "X became Y—a feat once thought impossible" (this could mean that "X became Y" is what was once considered impossible).

Hi
Can you explain why D is wrong. Doesn't the sentence actually means that it was an impossible feat and "in just under four hours" is correct.
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Re: Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed”  [#permalink]

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29 Apr 2019, 12:37
I have three questions here:
What is the significance of the '-' in between sentence. Are they treated the same way as commas?

Since i dont know the answer of the above question,let me consider they are commas. Now analysing option E

- In 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to “free solo” Yosemite’s El Capitan,a feat once thought impossible,climbing the 3,000-foot wall without the aid of any ropes in just under four hours.

If i remove 'a feat .. impossible' the sentence becomes
- In 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to “free solo” Yosemite’s El Capitan climbing the 3,000-foot wall without the aid of any ropes in just under four hours.

The commas get removed and climbing modifies El capitan. I know that if a comma was there then things could sound correct. Please suggest where I am going wrong structurally

3) In opt E, unlike opt D where we see usage of absolute modifier, what does 'a feat .. impossible' modify here?

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Re: Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed”  [#permalink]

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30 Apr 2019, 00:02
In 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to ???free solo??? Yosemite???s El Capitan???a feat once thought impossible???climbing the 3,000-foot wall without the aid of any ropes in just under four hours.

I was of opinion that whenever you use a -ing modifier to modify the clause , you need to have a comma before the ing modifier
and
whenever you see an appositive , the sentence must be perfectly correct grammatically and must convey the exact same meaning even after removing the appositive

when one applies the above two rule in option (E):

In 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to ???free solo??? Yosemite???s El Capitan climbing the 3,000-foot wall without the aid of any ropes in just under four hours.

notice how the absence of comma before the "climbing" makes it a noun modifier , illogically modifying captain .

this is the reason I eliminated E
also, it did not strike me that the " Yosemite's 3000 foot El captain " in option (D) would also mean that there might be a 4000 foot or 2900 foot El captain also

1) was i wrong in eliminating (E) - could you tell me why
2) how do i use dash in a sentence , what are the rules concerning the usage and how is it any different from the usage of :
3) is there anything i need to check in particular when i see the usage if - -
4) how do i not avoid the mistake i made in (D)

I know that is a lot of questions, but It would really be helpful if an expert such as you, threw some light on this

thanks
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Re: Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed”  [#permalink]

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30 Apr 2019, 02:29
In option E, how is 'climbing' modifying the preceding clause without having a comma before it.
Re: Once thought to be impossible, Alex Honnold successfully “free soloed”   [#permalink] 30 Apr 2019, 02:29
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