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# QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva

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QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva  [#permalink]

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18 Oct 2017, 15:52
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66% (01:02) correct 34% (01:07) wrong based on 924 sessions

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Verbal Question of The Day: Day 128: Sentence Correction

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The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva Edison reveal that his inventions typically sprang to life not in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly from previous works.

(A) sprang to life not in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly

(B) sprang to life not in a flash of inspiration but were slowly evolved

(C) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly

(D) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but had slowly evolved

(E) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but they were slowly evolved

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QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva  [#permalink]

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18 Oct 2017, 15:53
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Quote:
(A) sprang to life not in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly

Hopefully, the “not… but” construction absolutely leaps off the page at you whenever you see it. It’s often treated as an idiom in GMAT test-prep books, but I think that’s a mistake: think of “not… but” phrases as strict demands for parallelism. Basically, the word “not” and the word “but” need to be followed by the same parts of speech (nouns, verbs, prepositions, modifiers, etc.) or else the sentence is wrong. (The same, of course, is true of “not only” and “but also”: whatever follows those two phrases need to be parallel to each other.)

And in this case, we have “not in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly.” “Not” is followed by a prepositional phrase, and “but” is followed by a verb. That’s unambiguously wrong, so (A) is gone.

Quote:
(B) sprang to life not in a flash of inspiration but were slowly evolved

(B) has almost exactly the same error as (A): “not in a flash of inspiration but were slowly evolved.” “Not” is followed by a preposition, “but” is still followed by a verb. That’s still wrong. (B) is out.

Quote:
(C) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly

This one seems to work! “Did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly…” Cool, the “not” and “but” are both followed by verbs, and they’re both in the past tense. That makes sense: they both happened in the past, and there’s no reason why those two actions should be in different tenses. We can keep (C).

Quote:
(D) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but had slowly evolved

Now we get into some subtle stuff about verb tense and meaning. (And we did a whole YouTube webinar on verb tense and meaning, so check this out if you’re interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxANHcxwbeM.) The past perfect tense (“had slowly evolved”) only makes sense if it describes an action that happened in the distant past, before some other “time marker” – usually a later action in simple past tense.

Superficially, we’re OK here: “had slowly evolved” is accompanied by the simple past action “did not spring to life.” But wait: the timeline is nonsense. This is literally saying that Edison’s inventions first “had evolved slowly” and THEN they “did not spring to life.” Huh? It makes much more sense to just use the simple past for both actions here.

So (D) can be eliminated.

Quote:
(E) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but they were slowly evolved

And now we’re back to a nice, straightforward parallelism error: “not” is followed by the verb “spring”, while the “but” is followed by “they were slowly evolved” – a clause that begins with a noun. Those things aren’t parallel, so (E) is gone, and (D) is our answer.
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QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva  [#permalink]

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18 Oct 2017, 20:37
The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva Edison reveal that his inventions typically sprang to life not in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly from previous works.

(A) sprang to life not in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly

(B) sprang to life not in a flash of inspiration but wereslowly evolved

(C) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly [Perfect]

(D) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but had slowly evolved

(E) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but they were slowly evolved

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Re: QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva  [#permalink]

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19 Oct 2017, 14:13
The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva Edison reveal that his inventions typically sprang to life not in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly from previous works.

(A) sprang to life not in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly
--Sprang to life is wrongly used
(B) sprang to life not in a flash of inspiration but were slowly evolved
--Sprang to life is wrongly used
(C) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly
--Correct

(D) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but had slowly evolved
--Perfect tense wrongly used
(E) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but they were slowly evolved
--"they were" is not required.
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Re: QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva  [#permalink]

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19 Oct 2017, 15:55
A is wrong because its not parallel
not in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly..IN is missing after but, hence wrong.

In C we have
did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly. Parallel and the correct answer.
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Re: QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva  [#permalink]

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20 Oct 2017, 00:06
This question tests you on modifiers. The answer must be option C. My take :

Meaning - The author wishes to convey that voluminous papers of Edison reveal that his inventions did not happen in a jiffy but evolved slowly.

Error analysis - Modifier "typically" is wrongly used here. This adverb has to modify the fact that inventions did not spring to life immediately.But evolved slowly. typically must be followed by "did not ...".

POE :

Option A - Out because of reason mentioned above
Option B - -do-
Option C - Hold
Option D - Hold
Option E - the part after but is wrong .. It is passive form and conveys an idea that ideas were evolved by someone. Fact is that ideas evolved slowly and not that someone was evolving them slowly.

D vs C - Use had had in D is wrong. There are no two events here in the clause after "but".

Hence option C wins.
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Re: QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva  [#permalink]

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23 Oct 2017, 06:39
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The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva Edison reveal that his inventions typically sprang to life not in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly from previous works.

Not X But Y is the correct idiomatic usage where X and Y should be parallel.

(A) sprang to life not in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly
Here, not is followed by a prepositional phrase and but is followed by a verb.

(B) sprang to life not in a flash of inspiration but were slowly evolved
similar error as in option A.

(C) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly
Correct.

(D) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but had slowly evolved
The use of Past Perfect Tense is incorrect here. It implies that the inventions of Thomas Alva Edison evolved slowly at some point of time in the past and then they stopped evolving sometime in the past. This is not the intended meaning. Also there is no simple past tense action linked to the usage of double past action. So, incorrect.

(E) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but they were slowly evolved
not is followed by a verb and but is followed by a complete clause.
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Re: QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva  [#permalink]

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17 Nov 2017, 17:41
Also the verb reveal is in present tense, So you cannot use the past spang. Therefore A and B is out. Now D and E doesn't maintain parallelism.So C is the correct answer. Kindly let me now if my elimination method is correct. Thank you
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Re: QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva  [#permalink]

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02 Feb 2018, 20:01
GMATNinja wrote:

(C) did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly
This one seems to work! “Did not spring to life in a flash of inspiration but evolved slowly…” Cool, the “not” and “but” are both followed by verbs, and they’re both in the past tense. That makes sense: they both happened in the past, and there’s no reason why those two actions should be in different tenses. We can keep (C).

Hi GMATNinja,

Quick question - in this choice "did" must be treated as non parallel part and make sense with both 'Not spring' and 'but evolved slowly'. Since "did" can't be used with "evolved slowly", doesn't it affect the parallelism?

Thank you!
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Re: QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva  [#permalink]

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24 Feb 2018, 04:54
Understanding the intended meaning provides good approach to find the best answer.
A & B can be eliminated as use of simple past in "sprang" would mean that if someone reads those papers today, the inventions would no more spring to life.
D can be eliminated for the use of had which unnecessary creates sequencing & puts the act of evolution before springing to life when it is not required.
E can be eliminated for use of they. Not sure if they refers to papers or inventions.
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Re: QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva  [#permalink]

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21 Mar 2018, 20:11
I think spring to life is an idiom , hence correct .
Spring and evolved are parallel because they are verb in the construction Not X but Y.
I am not sure about the tense part . i.e spring is in past form .
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Re: QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva  [#permalink]

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14 Apr 2018, 20:01
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I was wrong in choosing D. According to GMATNinja, the explanation in the thread makes more sense from the perspective of meaning and logic!

Quote:
Superficially, we’re OK here: “had slowly evolved” is accompanied by the simple past action “did not spring to life.” But wait: the timeline is nonsense. This is literally saying that Edison’s inventions first “had evolved slowly” and THEN they “did not spring to life.” Huh? It makes much more sense to just use the simple past for both actions here.

Many thanks!
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Re: QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva  [#permalink]

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07 Jul 2018, 01:31
Hi, I understand that there is a need for parallelism but I do not understand how some inventions can 'evolve slowly' by themselves? I thought evolve is like animals evolving but inventions are not creatures, they need to be created and improved on by someone else? Am I misunderstanding something?

Thanks!
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Re: QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva  [#permalink]

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07 Jul 2018, 02:33
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@Ywp

'Evolve' simply means to transform for better either by itself or by somebody's effort. So many inanimate things evolve. For example, we say the volcanoes have evolved slowly over time. However, did anyone evolve them? They evolved by themselves.

How do inventions evolve by themselves? When the field is ripe with a lot of designs, the prior inventions open up a ready synergy for many inventors to create more and unique devices. That is the reason that we have so many new inventions springing up especially in scientific fields. This subtle momentum is the evolution of inventions.
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Re: QOTD: The voluminous personal papers of Thomas Alva &nbs [#permalink] 07 Jul 2018, 02:33
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