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QOTD: Fossils of the arm

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Verbal Question of The Day: Day 146: Sentence Correction


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Fossils of the arm of a sloth found in Puerto Rico in 1991, and dated at 34 million years old, made it the earliest known mammal of the Greater Antilles islands.

A. sloth found in Puerto Rico in 1991, and dated at 34 million years old, made it the earliest known mammal of

B. sloth, that they found in Puerto Rico in 1991, has been dated at 34 million years old, thus making it the earliest mammal known on

C. sloth that was found in Puerto Rico in 1991, was dated at 34 million years old, making this the earliest known mammal of

D. sloth, found in Puerto Rico in 1991, have been dated at 34 million years old, making the sloth the earliest known mammal on

E. sloth which, found in Puerto Rico in 1991, was dated at 34 million years old, made the sloth the earliest known mammal of

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QOTD: Fossils of the arm [#permalink]

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I’ve always had a soft spot for this question, just because it has such a wide variety of issues and errors. It also has an interesting little verb tense thing that really doesn’t matter at all: you could easily fixate on the difference between "was dated" (past tense) and "has/have been dated" (present perfect tense), but you don't have to choose between them at all. There are plenty of other issues to worry about instead.

Quote:
(A) sloth found in Puerto Rico in 1991, and dated at 34 million years old, made it the earliest known mammal of

The “it” (which presumably refers back to the sloth) is the first thing that jumps out at me. “Fossils of the arm of a sloth… made [the sloth] the earliest known mammal…” Huh? That makes no sense. How the heck would the fossils of a sloth make the sloth the earliest known mammal of the Greater Antilles?

The much smaller issue is that I see no real need for that first comma, but that’s unlikely to ever be a deciding factor on a GMAT question. But the nonsensical main clause is enough to wipe out (A).

Quote:
(B) sloth, that they found in Puerto Rico in 1991, has been dated at 34 million years old, thus making it the earliest mammal known on

This time, the pronoun “they” is the first thing that catches my eye. Who the heck is “they”? The fossils?

Plus, we have a subject-verb problem: “fossils… has been dated” is spectacularly wrong. (B) is gone.

Quote:
(C) sloth that was found in Puerto Rico in 1991, was dated at 34 million years old, making this the earliest known mammal of

Subject-verb fail again: “fossils… was dated.” Nope.

But there’s more: the phrase “that was found in Puerto Rico in 1991” seems to modify the sloth itself, and that makes no sense. Unless you think that the sloth had actually been alive for 34 million years. Maybe moving really slowly helps you live longer?

Finally, the word “this” is used as a singular pronoun, and that’s an unacceptable use of the word “this” on the GMAT. I’ve only ever seen “this” used as an article on the GMAT (“this week” or “this magnificent GMAT forum”), but never as a pronoun.

So we have lots of good reasons to eliminate (C).

Quote:
(D) sloth, found in Puerto Rico in 1991, have been dated at 34 million years old, making the sloth the earliest known mammal on

This one looks pretty good. The subject-verb agreement works: “fossils… have been dated at 34 million years old…” Cool. The modifier “found in Puerto Rico in 1991” is nicely set apart with commas, so it seems to refer to the entire phrase “fossils of the arm of a sloth”, and not just the sloth itself, as we saw in (C).

And the last part of the underlined portion (“making the sloth the earliest known mammal…”) actually names the sloth instead of using a pronoun, and that adds a bit of extra clarity. It might not be strictly necessary, but it’s nice. We can keep (D).


Quote:
(E) sloth which, found in Puerto Rico in 1991, was dated at 34 million years old, made the sloth the earliest known mammal of

Thanks to the modifier “which”, which typically modifies the immediately preceding noun, it really sounds like the sloth itself was found in Puerto Rico in 1991, and that makes no sense. (I also can’t make much sense of the comma placement in that part of the sentence, but again, comma placement isn’t really a major emphasis on GMAT SC.)

We also have the same problem that we had in (A): “fossils… made the sloth the earliest known mammal…” That’s nonsense, too.

So we can ditch (E), and (D) is our answer.
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QOTD: Fossils of the arm [#permalink]

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New post 31 Oct 2017, 01:02
souvik101990 wrote:

Verbal Question of The Day: Day 146: Sentence Correction


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Fossils of the arm of a sloth found in Puerto Rico in 1991, and dated at 34 million years old, made it the earliest known mammal of the Greater Antilles islands.

A. sloth found in Puerto Rico in 1991, and dated at 34 million years old, made it the earliest known mammal of

B. sloth, that they found in Puerto Rico in 1991, has been dated at 34 million years old, thus making it the earliest mammal known on

C. sloth that was found in Puerto Rico in 1991, was dated at 34 million years old, making this the earliest known mammal of

D. sloth, found in Puerto Rico in 1991, have been dated at 34 million years old, making the sloth the earliest known mammal on

E. sloth which, found in Puerto Rico in 1991, was dated at 34 million years old, made the sloth the earliest known mammal of

Every question of the day will be followed by an expert reply by GMATNinja in 12-15 hours. Stay tuned! Post your answers and explanations to earn kudos.



Option A :
Verb tense : "made" is incorrect as the fact still stands true.
Construction : "comma + and" requires an Independent clause. However, "dated" has no subject

Doubt: Which of the following construction is correct:
Subject Verb1 ,and Verb2
Subject Verb1 and Verb2


Option B:
Pronoun : "they" has no clear antecedent
Subject Verb : Fossils (plu) and "has been dated" (singular)

Option C:
Subject Verb : Fossils (plu) and "was dated" (singular)
Pronoun : "this" has no clear antecedent

Option D:
Subject Verb : Fossils (plu) and "have been dated" (plu)
Construction : Verb+ing form states the result of the finding and has the same subject as that of modified clause
Pronoun : Replaces "this" with "the sloth"

Option E:
Subject Verb : Fossils (plu) and "was dated" (singular)
Verb tense : "made" is incorrect as the fact still stands true.

Answer : D

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Re: QOTD: Fossils of the arm [#permalink]

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New post 31 Oct 2017, 01:18
Fossils of the arm of a sloth found in Puerto Rico in 1991, and dated at 34 million years old, made it the earliest known mammal of the Greater Antilles islands.

A, C and E out because wrong usage of preposition "of"

Option B: (1) "fossils" is plural so "has" is wrong; (2) "they" is ambiguous; (3) "thus" is redundant

A. sloth found in Puerto Rico in 1991, and dated at 34 million years old, made it the earliest known mammal of

B. sloth, that they found in Puerto Rico in 1991, has been dated at 34 million years old, thus making it the earliest mammal known on

C. sloth that was found in Puerto Rico in 1991, was dated at 34 million years old, making this the earliest known mammal of

D. sloth, found in Puerto Rico in 1991, have been dated at 34 million years old, making the sloth the earliest known mammal on - Correct

E. sloth which, found in Puerto Rico in 1991, was dated at 34 million years old, made the sloth the earliest known mammal of
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QOTD: Fossils of the arm [#permalink]

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New post 31 Oct 2017, 04:49
Fossils of the arm of a sloth found in Puerto Rico in 1991, and dated at 34 million years old, made it the earliest known mammal of the Greater Antilles islands.

Analysing the original sentence,

1. FOUND can be a VERB or a VERB-ED modifier. As sloth is present next to found, it seems "found" is the verb for sloth. But, sloth cannot do this action of finding. Thus, found is not the verb for sloth. Similarly, found is not even the verb for arms as well as fossils.
Edit -- Point 1 is only for clarification that found is NOT A VERB here. It is NOT the reason for rejecting option A. Its just a clarification.

2. Found as a VERB-ed MODIFIER can modify any of these 3 : fossils; arm; sloth. But the portion after "and", dated clears this confusion. As dated cannot modify sloth or arm.
Edit -- Point 2 is only for the clarification that "found" as a VERB-ed modifier is modifying fossils only. It is also NOT the reason for rejecting option A. Its again just a clarification for the doubt which I actually had when I first solved this question.

3. The COMMA before AND is not making sense. Since its only a list of two items. For a list of more than two items, we place a COMMA before AND.

4. The pronoun "it" is ambiguous. As it can refer to the arm as well as the sloth.

A. sloth found in Puerto Rico in 1991, and dated at 34 million years old, made it the earliest known mammal of
INCORRECT for the reasons mentioned above.

B. sloth, that they found in Puerto Rico in 1991, has been dated at 34 million years old, thus making it the earliest mammal known on
"They" refers to whom?? ALso, Has been dated indicates the PRONOUN NUMBER AGREEMENT ERROR as the SUBJECT fossils is plural. The pronoun "it" can refer to the sloth as well as the arm. Therefore, INCORRECT.

C. sloth that was found in Puerto Rico in 1991, was dated at 34 million years old, making this the earliest known mammal of
The usage of relative pronoun "that" next to sloth changes the intended meaning. It implies that the sloth was found in Puerto Rico in 1991. "that" cannot refer to the fossils because the verb after "that" is singular (was found AND even was dated) and not plural. "Was Dated" indicates the PRONOUN NUMBER AGREEMENT ERROR as the SUBJECT fossils is plural. Usage of the Demonstrative Pronoun "THIS" is also wrong here.

D. sloth, found in Puerto Rico in 1991, have been dated at 34 million years old, making the sloth the earliest known mammal on
CORRECT. For the following reasons,
1. PRONOUN NUMBER AGREEMENT ERROR : is resolved as have been dated correctly refers to the fossils.
2. Making (the VERB-ing modifier) refers correctly to the subject ("fossils") of the preceding clause.
3. PRONOUN AMBIGUITY ERROR : Here, the pronoun "it" is correctly replaced by the sloth.


E. sloth which, found in Puerto Rico in 1991, was dated at 34 million years old, made the sloth the earliest known mammal of
Here, the relative pronoun "which" refers to sloth, making the sentence sound illogical. As it appears "the sloth was dated at...". Usage of WHICH without a preceding comma or a preposition is also incorrect. The overall structure of this option is awkward and hence, INCORRECT. The VERB-ed modifier ("made") is also dangling as its not clear actually what it is modifying as VERB-ed modifiers can modify the preceding noun only.

Last edited by aceGMAT21 on 31 Oct 2017, 14:24, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: QOTD: Fossils of the arm [#permalink]

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New post 31 Oct 2017, 07:20
A. Fossils...made it...it doesn't agree with Subject fossils. Also fossils cannot be the mammal.
B. They refers to what is not known. Fossils doesn't agree with has. It refers to what ?
C. Sloth was not found. Fossils were found. Fossils doesn't agree with was. Making this...this ? What is this referring to.
D. After comma there is extra info about the previous phrase. Making the sloth.....provides extra info about the previous clause. Seems ok.
E. which , doesn't make sense here. Was dated doesn't agree with fossils.

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Re: QOTD: Fossils of the arm [#permalink]

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New post 31 Oct 2017, 10:29
D is the answer as rest have either a pronoun or tense issue. Fossils are plural hence need have//are

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QOTD: Fossils of the arm [#permalink]

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Hello fmik7894

You have presented a good analysis of this rather confusing official sentence. Great job there. :thumbup:

I will be glad to help you out with your query. :-)


Quote:
Doubt: Which of the following construction is correct:
Subject Verb1 ,and Verb2
Subject Verb1 and Verb2



Out of the two structures, the second structure is ideal because the connector is not followed by a comma when it joins only two entities in a parallel list.

Having said that, I would like to add that the first structure is not incorrect. There can be a comma before the connector even if it joins only two elements in the parallel list.

We see such structure when the parallel elements are pretty long. So the comma before the connector presents a necessary pause to help understand the meaning of the sentence better.


Quote:
Option A :
Construction : "comma + and" requires an Independent clause. However, "dated" has no subject



Please note that dated is NOT a verb in this official sentence. It is a verb-ed modifier like found. Since found and dated has been used as noun modifiers in this sentence, they form a parallel list and hence, we see dated preceded by and.


Hope this helps. :-)
Thanks.
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Re: QOTD: Fossils of the arm [#permalink]

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New post 31 Oct 2017, 14:06
aceGMAT21 wrote:
Fossils of the arm of a sloth found in Puerto Rico in 1991, and dated at 34 million years old, made it the earliest known mammal of the Greater Antilles islands.

Analysing the original sentence,

1. FOUND can be a VERB or a VERB-ED modifier. As sloth is present next to found, it seems "found" is the verb for sloth. But, sloth cannot do this action of finding. Thus, found is not the verb for sloth. Similarly, found is not even the verb for arms as well as fossils.

2. Found as a VERB-ed MODIFIER can modify any of these 3 : fossils; arm; sloth. But the portion after "and", dated clears this confusion. As dated cannot modify sloth or arm.

3. The COMMA before AND is not making sense. Since its only a list of two items. For a list of more than two items, we place a COMMA before AND.

4. The pronoun "it" is ambiguous. As it can refer to the arm as well as the sloth.

A. sloth found in Puerto Rico in 1991, and dated at 34 million years old, made it the earliest known mammal of
INCORRECT for the reasons mentioned above.

B. sloth, that they found in Puerto Rico in 1991, has been dated at 34 million years old, thus making it the earliest mammal known on
"They" refers to whom?? ALso, Has been dated indicates the PRONOUN NUMBER AGREEMENT ERROR as the SUBJECT fossils is plural. The pronoun "it" can refer to the sloth as well as the arm. Therefore, INCORRECT.

C. sloth that was found in Puerto Rico in 1991, was dated at 34 million years old, making this the earliest known mammal of
The usage of relative pronoun "that" next to sloth changes the intended meaning. It implies that the sloth was found in Puerto Rico in 1991. "that" cannot refer to the fossils because the verb after "that" is singular (was found AND even was dated) and not plural. "Was Dated" indicates the PRONOUN NUMBER AGREEMENT ERROR as the SUBJECT fossils is plural. Usage of the Demonstrative Pronoun "THIS" is also wrong here.

D. sloth, found in Puerto Rico in 1991, have been dated at 34 million years old, making the sloth the earliest known mammal on
CORRECT. For the following reasons,
1. PRONOUN NUMBER AGREEMENT ERROR : is resolved as have been dated correctly refers to the fossils.
2. Making (the VERB-ing modifier) refers correctly to the subject ("fossils") of the preceding clause.
3. PRONOUN AMBIGUITY ERROR : Here, the pronoun "it" is correctly replaced by the sloth.


E. sloth which, found in Puerto Rico in 1991, was dated at 34 million years old, made the sloth the earliest known mammal of
Here, the relative pronoun "which" refers to sloth, making the sentence sound illogical. As it appears "the sloth was dated at...". Usage of WHICH without a preceding comma or a preposition is also incorrect. The overall structure of this option is awkward and hence, INCORRECT. The VERB-ed modifier ("made") is also dangling as its not clear actually what it is modifying as VERB-ed modifiers can modify the preceding noun only.





Hello aceGMAT21,


Great job in presenting such a detailed analysis of this question. :thumbup:

I would just like to add my two cents on a few points of your analysis.


Quote:
1. FOUND can be a VERB or a VERB-ED modifier. As sloth is present next to found, it seems "found" is the verb for sloth. But, sloth cannot do this action of finding. Thus, found is not the verb for sloth. Similarly, found is not even the verb for arms as well as fossils.



I am afraid your analysis is not correct here. The word found cannot be and is not a verb in this official sentence because the context of the sentence makes it absolutely clear.

If we pay attention to structure and the context of the sentence, we will know instantly that found has been used a verb-ed modifier because there is no object for this verb in the entire sentence.


Quote:
2. Found as a VERB-ed MODIFIER can modify any of these 3 : fossils; arm; sloth. But the portion after "and", dated clears this confusion. As dated cannot modify sloth or arm.



A modifier must logically modify an entity. Now the modifiers found and dated form a parallel list in the sentence, indicating that they have been used to modify the same entity. So from the context of the sentence, we understand that whatever has been found has been dated at 34 million years old.

On the basis of this analysis, neither sloth nor arm can be the entity the modifier found is meant to modify because neither a sloth not its arm would exist for that long. It is only the fossils that can exist that long (or even longer).

So logically, found and dated modify fossils only.



Hope this helps. :-)
Thanks.
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Re: QOTD: Fossils of the arm [#permalink]

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New post 01 Nov 2017, 05:58
The answer must be option D. My take :

Meaning : The intended meaning of this sentence is - Fossils of the arm of a sloth were found in Puerto Rico in 1991. These fossils have been dated at 34 million years old. Based on the aforementioned finding it can be concluded that sloth was the earliest known mammal of Greater Antilles Islands.

Error Analysis : In the given question, the use of comma is wrong. Comma plus "and" is used to join an IC to an IC. We don't see an IC in the phrase between the two commas. Moreover it refers to fossils. How can fossils be the earliest known mammals ? This is nonsensical.

POE

Option A : Wrong for the reason mentioned above
Option B : " they found it " - who ?? Fossils is plural must use plural form of verb. Has is wrong here. - Wrong
Option C : Meaning shift. It was not the sloth that was found in 1991, but fossils. - Wrong
Option D : Correct use of comma. Meaning correctly conveyed. SVA in place - Correct
Option E : Use of "was" is wrong. Fossils - Plural Subject will require plural verb. Moreover use of which is incorrect. The meaning gets changes here. As mentioned in option C, the meaning conveyed here is that sloth was found in 1991. This is incorrect. - Wrong

Based on the analysis above , we narrow down to option D.
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Re: QOTD: Fossils of the arm [#permalink]

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New post 01 Nov 2017, 17:35
GMATNinja wrote:
I’ve always had a soft spot for this question, just because it has such a wide variety of issues and errors. It also has an interesting little verb tense thing that really doesn’t matter at all: you could easily fixate on the difference between "was dated" (past tense) and "has/have been dated" (present perfect tense), but you don't have to choose between them at all. There are plenty of other issues to worry about instead.

Quote:
(A) sloth found in Puerto Rico in 1991, and dated at 34 million years old, made it the earliest known mammal of

The “it” (which presumably refers back to the sloth) is the first thing that jumps out at me. “Fossils of the arm of a sloth… made [the sloth] the earliest known mammal…” Huh? That makes no sense. How the heck would the fossils of a sloth make the sloth the earliest known mammal of the Greater Antilles?

The much smaller issue is that I see no real need for that first comma, but that’s unlikely to ever be a deciding factor on a GMAT question. But the nonsensical main clause is enough to wipe out (A).

Quote:
(B) sloth, that they found in Puerto Rico in 1991, has been dated at 34 million years old, thus making it the earliest mammal known on

This time, the pronoun “they” is the first thing that catches my eye. Who the heck is “they”? The fossils?

Plus, we have a subject-verb problem: “fossils… has been dated” is spectacularly wrong. (B) is gone.

Quote:
(C) sloth that was found in Puerto Rico in 1991, was dated at 34 million years old, making this the earliest known mammal of

Subject-verb fail again: “fossils… was dated.” Nope.

But there’s more: the phrase “that was found in Puerto Rico in 1991” seems to modify the sloth itself, and that makes no sense. Unless you think that the sloth had actually been alive for 34 million years. Maybe moving really slowly helps you live longer?

Finally, the word “this” is used as a singular pronoun, and that’s an unacceptable use of the word “this” on the GMAT. I’ve only ever seen “this” used as an article on the GMAT (“this week” or “this magnificent GMAT forum”), but never as a pronoun.

So we have lots of good reasons to eliminate (C).

Quote:
(D) sloth, found in Puerto Rico in 1991, have been dated at 34 million years old, making the sloth the earliest known mammal on

This one looks pretty good. The subject-verb agreement works: “fossils… have been dated at 34 million years old…” Cool. The modifier “found in Puerto Rico in 1991” is nicely set apart with commas, so it seems to refer to the entire phrase “fossils of the arm of a sloth”, and not just the sloth itself, as we saw in (C).

And the last part of the underlined portion (“making the sloth the earliest known mammal…”) actually names the sloth instead of using a pronoun, and that adds a bit of extra clarity. It might not be strictly necessary, but it’s nice. We can keep (D).


Quote:
(E) sloth which, found in Puerto Rico in 1991, was dated at 34 million years old, made the sloth the earliest known mammal of

Thanks to the modifier “which”, which typically modifies the immediately preceding noun, it really sounds like the sloth itself was found in Puerto Rico in 1991, and that makes no sense. (I also can’t make much sense of the comma placement in that part of the sentence, but again, comma placement isn’t really a major emphasis on GMAT SC.)

We also have the same problem that we had in (A): “fossils… made the sloth the earliest known mammal…” That’s nonsense, too.

So we can ditch (E), and (D) is our answer.


Could you look at my post https://gmatclub.com/forum/what-happened-246117.html

Kudos [?]: 0 [0], given: 19

Re: QOTD: Fossils of the arm   [#permalink] 01 Nov 2017, 17:35
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