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QOTD: Under a provision of the Constitution

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QOTD: Under a provision of the Constitution [#permalink]

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Verbal Question of The Day: Day 133: Sentence Correction


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Under a provision of the Constitution that was never applied, Congress has been required to call a convention for considering possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do it by the legislatures of two-thirds of the states.

A. was never applied, Congress has been required to call a convention for considering possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do it

B. was never applied, there has been a requirement that Congress call a convention for consideration of possible amendments to the document when asked to do it formally

C. was never applied, whereby Congress is required to call a convention for considering possible amendments to the document when asked to do it formally

D. has never been applied, whereby Congress is required to call a convention to consider possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do so

E. has never been applied, Congress is required to call a convention to consider possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do so

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[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

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QOTD: Under a provision of the Constitution [#permalink]

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New post 25 Oct 2017, 16:33
This is another one that we covered in our recent YouTube webinar on verb tenses, so if you prefer your SC explanations in video form, feel free to head over there.

And if you’re still reading this: the key principle here is that whenever the GMAT uses different verb tenses in a sentence, the actions need to occur at different times. In other words: the key to GMAT verb tenses is making sure that the verb tenses logically match the sequence of events. Sounds easy, but sometimes the execution can get tricky.

Quote:
(A) was never applied, Congress has been required to call a convention for considering possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do it

OK, so the phrase “was never applied” is in the simple past tense, which suggests that the action is completely over. In this case, the phrase “under a provision that was never applied” would then imply that the provision of the Constitution can no longer be applied – presumably because the Constitution or the provision itself no longer exist.

And even if you know nothing about the U.S. political system (our Constitution is still here… perhaps barely, depending on your political views), you know that the past tense is inappropriate from the sentence itself. Why? “Congress has been required…” – and that’s present perfect tense, which can only be used for an action that starts in the past and continues into the present.

In other words: the sentence is telling us that Congress is still currently required to call a convention… but under a provision that no longer exists, because it “was never applied” in the past tense. That makes no sense.

For bonus points: the “it” does not have a proper referent here. “It” is trying to refer back to the entire phrase “call a convention”, but that’s a verb phrase, not a singular noun.

Either way, (A) is out.

Quote:
(B) was never applied, there has been a requirement that Congress call a convention for consideration of possible amendments to the document when asked to do it formally

(B) has all of the same problems as (A): the verb tenses make no sense, and “it” is trying to refer back to “call a convention”, so the singular pronoun “it” is incorrect. (B) is gone, too.

Quote:
(C) was never applied, whereby Congress is required to call a convention for considering possible amendments to the document when asked to do it formally

The “it” is still a problem here, and so is the verb tense.

Plus, this thing isn’t a legitimate sentence: “under a provision that was never applied” is just a modifier, and the rest of the sentence “whereby… blah blah” is a dependent clause. We need an independent clause somewhere in this sentence for it to be correct, and we simply don’t have one.

So we can eliminate (C).

Quote:
(D) has never been applied, whereby Congress is required to call a convention to consider possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do so

Oh goody, the verb tense finally looks OK. Congress is – in the present – still required to call a convention, but the provision “has never been applied.” The use of present perfect tense correctly suggests that the provision could still be applied someday.

Also, the “it” from (A), (B), and (C) has been replaced with “so.” That’s great: “so” can basically replace a verb phrase – I think to think of it as a pronoun, but a pronoun that applies only to verbs and verb phrases. In this case: “Congress is required to call a convention… when formally asked to [call a convention].” That works just fine.

Trouble is, this thing still isn’t a sentence, for the same reasons as in (C). So (D) is gone.

Crap, I hope we like (E).

Quote:
(E) has never been applied, Congress is required to call a convention to consider possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do so

Yup, this works. It’s basically the same as (D), except that the “whereby” has been removed, giving us a full, independent clause after the comma. So this one is a legit sentence, without any pronoun or verb tense issues.

So (E) is our winner.
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Re: QOTD: Under a provision of the Constitution [#permalink]

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New post 25 Oct 2017, 16:42
I think the answer is E.
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Re: QOTD: Under a provision of the Constitution [#permalink]

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New post 25 Oct 2017, 19:42
Under a provision of the Constitution that was never applied, Congress has been required to call a convention for considering possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do it by the legislatures of two-thirds of the states.

A, B and C are out because: (1) the present perfect tense is preferred since we don't know specific time in the past; or (2) pronoun "it" is ambiguous since it doesn't refer to any specifics.

Option D: conjunction "whereby" makes the sentence incomplete since the first part of the sentence begins with "Under" which subordinates the clause.

Hence E correct.

A. was never applied, Congress has been required to call a convention for considering possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do it

B. was never applied, there has been a requirement that Congress call a convention for consideration of possible amendments to the document when asked to do it formally

C. was never applied, whereby Congress is required to call a convention for considering possible amendments to the document when asked to do it formally

D. has never been applied, whereby Congress is required to call a convention to consider possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do so

E. has never been applied, Congress is required to call a convention to consider possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do so --- Correct
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Re: QOTD: Under a provision of the Constitution [#permalink]

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New post 26 Oct 2017, 08:31
+1 for option E. My take :

Meaning : There is a provision of the constitution that has never been applied. As per this provision, Congress is required to call a convention to consider possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do so.

Error analysis : Wrong tense used. By using "was" the meaning conveyed is that the provision was not applied sometime in the past. When we use past perfect, the meaning conveyed is that it has not been used until now. Latter definitely is correct usage.

POE :

Option a : Wrong for the reason stated above
Option b : Wrong for the reason stated above
Option c : Wrong for the reason stated above
Option d : The first part of the sentence is a modifier that modifies the action taken by the Congress. The use of "whereby" is the spoiler here.
Option e : The correct answer

The correct answer is option E.
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QOTD: Under a provision of the Constitution [#permalink]

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New post 26 Oct 2017, 14:13
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Under a provision of the Constitution that was never applied, Congress has been required to call a convention for considering possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do it by the legislatures of two-thirds of the states.

A. was never applied, Congress has been required to call a convention for considering possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do it

B. was never applied, there has been a requirement that Congress call a convention for consideration of possible amendments to the document when asked to do it formally

C. was never applied, whereby Congress is required to call a convention for considering possible amendments to the document when asked to do it formally

D. has never been applied, whereby Congress is required to call a convention to consider possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do so

E. has never been applied, Congress is required to call a convention to consider possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do so

Understanding the intended meaning of this sentence will be helpful in nailing this SC question quickly.

Error Analysis of the original sentence :

1. TENSE USAGE :
The provision of the Constitution was never applied so the usage of "has been required" is incorrect. We are just stating the details of the provision so SIMPLE PRESENT tense would be preferred.

2. TO CONSIDER vs FOR CONSIDERING
To Consider would be preferred over FOR CONSIDERING. Because "To Consider" implies the intention as required by the provision.

3. AMBIGUOUS PRONOUN "IT" in TO DO IT
Usage of TO DO IT is incorrect here, as IT cannot refer back to the entire preceding phrase. TO DO SO is preferred in this context.

4. Usage of whereby is even making the structure incorrect
Under the provisions ....................., whereby.......................... (In this structure there is no Independent Clause.)
Under the provisions... is a prepositional modifier and its modifying Congress. So, the modified entity is needed just after the comma. Also, Dependent Clause (Under the provisions...) requires an Independent Clause to complete the sentence.

A. was never applied, Congress has been required to call a convention for considering possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do it
Incorrect for the reasons mentioned above.

B. was never applied, there has been a requirement that Congress call a convention for consideration of possible amendments to the document when asked to do it formally
required (VERB FORM) is always more clearer AND preferred over the noun form requirement (NOUN FORM). Also, the construction "there has been a requirement" is too wordy.

C. was never applied, whereby Congress is required to call a convention for considering possible amendments to the document when asked to do it formally
INCORRECT, for the reasons mentioned above.

D. has never been applied, whereby Congress is required to call a convention to consider possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do so
INCORRECT, for the reasons mentioned above.

E. has never been applied, Congress is required to call a convention to consider possible amendments to the document when formally asked to do so
CORRECT.

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QOTD: Under a provision of the Constitution   [#permalink] 26 Oct 2017, 14:13
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