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# Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthqua

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Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthqua  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 18 Oct 2018, 04:42
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Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were constructed in violation of the city's building code.

(A) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were

(B) Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been

(C) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year have been

(D) Last year the earthquake destroyed or heavly damaged some buildings that have been

(E) Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earth quake had been

Verbal Question of The Day: Day 54: Sentence Correction

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Originally posted by x2suresh on 22 Nov 2007, 21:05.
Last edited by Bunuel on 18 Oct 2018, 04:42, edited 1 time in total.
Renamed the topic and edited the question.
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Re: QOTD: Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged  [#permalink]

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13 Jul 2017, 21:13
19
6
This one is a classic, with a nice mix of mechanical and meaning issues. And it's even featured in this week's Topic of the Week: our long-winded Beginner's Guide to GMAT SC. Good times.

Quote:
(A) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were

It makes no sense to say "destroyed and heavily damaged" -- it should be an "or", not an "and." And I'm also not crazy about the verb tenses, but we'll say more about that in a moment. Eliminate (A).

Quote:
(B) Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been

Hm, the "had been" makes a whole lot of sense here. Whenever you see "had + verb" (past perfect tense, if you like jargon), you'll want to look for some other action that happened later in the past -- generally, a later action that's in simple past tense. In this case "buildings... had been constructed in violation of the city's building code" certainly happened before the buildings "were destroyed or heavily damaged" in the earthquake.

That's a textbook, perfect use of past perfect. Keep (B).

Quote:
(C) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year have been

The "and" problem is the same as in (A), and the verb tenses make no sense: it sounds like the buildings were built after they were destroyed in the earthquake, and that clearly isn't the point of the sentence. Eliminate (C).

Quote:
(D) Last year the earthquake destroyed or heavily damaged some buildings that have been

This has the same verb tense error as in (C). So (D) is gone, too.

Quote:
(E) Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake had been

Hm, this looks an awful lot like (B). Verb tenses are fine.

So basically, we've eliminated (A), (C), and (D) based on somewhat mechanical errors, and now we're down to two choices. We discussed this situation -- and this exact example -- in detail in our SC Guide for Beginners this week. Let's compare these last two choices again, side by side:

(B) Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been
(E) Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake had been

The only real difference is the placement of the phrase “last year.” In (B), “last year” is right next to “earthquake,” and it seems to be telling us that the earthquake occurred last year. That seems reasonable.

But (E) subtly expresses the wrong idea. “Last year” is right at the beginning of the sentence, suggesting that the entire first clause is the thing that happened last year: “some of the buildings… [modifier blah blah]… had been constructed in violation of the city’s building code.” But that doesn’t make sense: the buildings weren’t constructed last year.

So we can eliminate (E), and (B) is our winner.
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Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthqua  [#permalink]

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19 May 2013, 03:45
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x2suresh wrote:
Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were constructed in violation of the city's building code.

A)Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were
"destroyed and heavily damaged" is nonsensical. A thing cannot be destroyed and damaged at the same time.
B)Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been
"Last year" modifies "earthquake". "Had been constructed" indicates the point in time before "were destroyed". Makes sense.
C)Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year have been
Wrong for the same reason as A.
D)Last year the earthquake destroyed or heavly damaged some buildings that have been
"Have been constructed" means that the buildings still stand illogically neglecting the earthquake.
E) Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earth quake had been.
"that were destroyed..." is a modifier of "the buildings", making "Last year" a modifier of "had been constructed".
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Re: Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthqua  [#permalink]

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02 Jun 2008, 02:28
1
1
B

1. Buildings had been constructed before they were destroyed or heavily damaged. - we need Past Perfect
2. were destroyed or heavily damaged - 'and' is incorrect here, because a building cannot be destroyed of damaged simultaneously.
3. 'Some of the buildings that were .....' changes the meaning of 'Some buildings'.
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Re: Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthqua  [#permalink]

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01 Mar 2014, 23:36
1
Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were constructed in violation of the city's building code.

A)Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were
B)Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been
C)Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year have been
D)Last year the earthquake destroyed or heavly damaged some buildings that have been
E) Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earth quake had been.

My pick was B. But one question for everyone out there. What if we had one answer choice as -
"Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were"

I know that "had been" or Past Perfect is used to indicate the sequence of events. But, if the above was one of the answer choice - then do we pick "were" or "had been". The reasoning being - Past Perfect is only used when required. Since the building were already destroyed as mentioned in the original sentence, obviously they were constructed before their destruction. In that case - the sequence of events could be depicted even without using Past Perfect. Please let me know - Expert thoughts??

Thanks!
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Past Perfect - only when required  [#permalink]

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01 Apr 2014, 14:04
1

Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were constructed in violation of the city's building code.
A) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were
B) Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been
C) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year have been
D) Last year the earthquake destroyed or heavily damaged some buildings that have been
E) Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earth quake had been.

My pick was B. But one question for everyone out there. What if we had one answer choice as -
"Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were"

I know that "had been" or Past Perfect is used to indicate the sequence of events. But, if the above was one of the answer choice - then do we pick "were" or "had been". The reasoning being - Past Perfect is only used when required. Since the building were already destroyed as mentioned in the original sentence, obviously they were constructed before their destruction. In that case - the sequence of events could be depicted even without using Past Perfect. Please let me know - Expert thoughts??

Thanks!
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Re: Past Perfect - only when required  [#permalink]

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02 Apr 2014, 10:39
1
sa2222 wrote:

Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were constructed in violation of the city's building code.
A) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were
B) Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been
C) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year have been
D) Last year the earthquake destroyed or heavily damaged some buildings that have been
E) Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earth quake had been.

My pick was B. But one question for everyone out there. What if we had one answer choice as -
"Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were"

I know that "had been" or Past Perfect is used to indicate the sequence of events. But, if the above was one of the answer choice - then do we pick "were" or "had been". The reasoning being - Past Perfect is only used when required. Since the building were already destroyed as mentioned in the original sentence, obviously they were constructed before their destruction. In that case - the sequence of events could be depicted even without using Past Perfect. Please let me know - Expert thoughts??

Thanks!

Dear sa2222,
I'm happy to respond.

Here's what I'll say. The tense of verb, "were constructed" vs. "had been constructed", is debatable. One could make an intelligent and credible argument for either one, and therefore it would be very hard to say that either one is clearly wrong.

I will guess this is precisely why the question-writer interspersed the variations in verb tense with the "and"/"or" issue. The verb tense alone would not be enough to decide this question, which is why this question requires the "and"/"or" split to isolate the OA (B).

If the question included the choice you proposed,
Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were
then it would be an unfair question, because there would be no clear way to choose between this choice and choice (B).

Understand that grammar is not mathematics. Sometimes there is not a perfectly clear answer --- sometimes a question such as this, what's the best verb tense, is highly debatable, and good arguments could be made both for it and against it. I guess I would say that there's no other verbal indication in the sentence indicating the sequence of events. Logically we know that the buildings had to be built before the earthquake could destroy them, but we know that only on the basis of abstract logic: there's no word or phrase in the sentence that corroborates this logic. I would say, that's why we need the verb tense in the past perfect. The grammar always must be consistent with the logic, and if the logic is telling us something that the grammar doesn't tell us, there's a problem. That's why I think the past perfect is preferred, but I totally understand that another expert might say its not as preferred. It's just not black & white clear.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthqua  [#permalink]

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01 May 2014, 11:36
2
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sa2222 wrote:
Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were constructed in violation of the city's building code.

A)Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were
B)Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been
C)Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year have been
D)Last year the earthquake destroyed or heavly damaged some buildings that have been
E) Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earth quake had been.

My pick was B. But one question for everyone out there. What if we had one answer choice as -
"Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were"

I know that "had been" or Past Perfect is used to indicate the sequence of events. But, if the above was one of the answer choice - then do we pick "were" or "had been". The reasoning being - Past Perfect is only used when required. Since the building were already destroyed as mentioned in the original sentence, obviously they were constructed before their destruction. In that case - the sequence of events could be depicted even without using Past Perfect. Please let me know - Expert thoughts??

Thanks!

Hi!

You are right that the past-perfect tense is used to clarify the sequence of events. However, that is only one of the two uses of this tense. The other use is to emphasize or impress on the sequence of events. When do we do so? We emphasize the chain of events if the earlier of the two actions has a bearing on the later action. The question at hand is a great example of both the accepted uses of past-perfect tense. Let’s look at choice B:

Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been constructed in violation of the city's building code.

The above sentence uses the past-perfect tense correctly. Not only does it conveys the sequence of event but also emphasizes the same. We need this emphasis because the earlier event has a direct bearing on the second event here. The damage to/destruction of the buildings is related to how they were constructed initially- hence, the use of past-perfect tense here. For this reason, I do not think the simple-past tense will be able to do justice to the intended meaning of the author here.

Let’s consider a choice that uses the simple-past tense in both the verbs. So, it would be something like this:

Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were constructed in violation of the city's building code.

Now, I agree that technically destruction of/ damage to something can happen only after that thing has been constructed. Despite this common understanding, the above sentence leaves open a very slight possibility to misinterpret the meaning of the sentence. It could mislead the reader in to thinking that the construction refers to the restoration work on the buildings. This possibility, no matter how minute, does not exist in the correct choice. Also, as mentioned earlier, the emphasis on the sequence of events is of paramount importance to the intended meaning of the author.

Hope the above discussion helps!

This question is from OG VR2. You can view our full length solutions to VR2 questions here : https://e-gmat.com/blogs/?cat=45.

Happy learning!

Regards,
Neeti.
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Re: Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthqua  [#permalink]

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18 Nov 2015, 09:46
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The final split is between B and E, no doubt. But B is better because of proper modification by the modifier “last year”. In B, the modifier phrase correctly modifies the earthquake, since it was the earthquake that occurred last year. In E, the phrase rather modifies some of the buildings giving a twist to the intended meaning as if the destroyed or damaged buildings were constructed last year.
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Re: QOTD: Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged  [#permalink]

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13 Jul 2017, 12:31
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souvik101990 wrote:

Verbal Question of The Day: Day 54: Sentence Correction

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Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were constructed in violation of the city's building code.

(A) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were

(B) Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been

(C) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year have been

(D) Last year the earthquake destroyed or heavly damaged some buildings that have been

(E) Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earth quake had been

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There are two issues here -
1. "were constructed" is incorrect. Buildings were first constructed and then only they can be destroyed. Hence "had been constructed" is required here.

2. "destroyed and heavily damaged". anything that is destroyed cannot further be damaged. so it should be damaged or destroyed.

So only option B & E are the contenders

Option E makes "Last Year" the subject of the sentence that illogically implies that "Last Year.......had been constructed"

Hence Option B
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Re: QOTD: Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged  [#permalink]

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13 Jul 2017, 19:36
Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were constructed in violation of the city's building code.
(A) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were
Best option out of rest. OR should have been used instead of AND. Correct.
(B) Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been
GMAC prefers simple past for an action that happened in past. Hence Incorrect.
(C) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year have been
GMAC prefers simple past for an action that happened in past. Hence Incorrect.
(D) Last year the earthquake destroyed or heavly damaged some buildings that have been
Changes the original intent since the sentence means that Earthquake destroyed only those buildings that were constructed in violation of city's building code. Hence Incorrect.
(E) Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earth quake had been
GMAC prefers simple past for an action that happened in past. Hence Incorrect.
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Re: QOTD: Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged  [#permalink]

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13 Jul 2017, 22:02
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A few things to remember.
1. The earthquake happened last year
2. The buildings were destroyed or damaged because of the earthquake, therefore by implication, essentially after the earthquake.
3. The buildings had been constructed before the earthquake.
4. The modifier and modified should be as close as possible.

Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were constructed in violation of the city's building code.

(A) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were -- 'destroyed and damaged, cannot happen together. It should be 'destroyed or damaged'

(B) Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been -- best option since the earthquake and last year are placed next to next.

(C) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year have been -- the same problem as in A

(D) Last year the earthquake destroyed or heavily damaged some buildings that have been -- A. Last year modifies all the events that follow namely 1. earthquake 2. destruction or damage and 3. construction, implying that all have happened in the same year. Obviously, this is illogical. B. The present perfect 'have been' may erroneously lead to think that the buildings have been reconstructed after the quake
(E) Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake had been -- same error as in D.
Therefore, B is the best.
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QOTD: Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged  [#permalink]

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10 May 2018, 17:31
GMATNinja VeritasPrepKarishma egmat

is the usage of present perfect sentence - have been constructed -
correct in (C) since the effect of construction was still applicable till last year,
when unfortunately the earthquake destroyed them.
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QOTD: Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged  [#permalink]

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10 May 2018, 20:12
1
GMATNinja VeritasPrepKarishma egmat

is the usage of present perfect sentence - have been constructed -
correct in (C) since the effect of construction was still applicable till last year,
when unfortunately the earthquake destroyed them.

Since the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year, present perfect have been constructed seems incorrect as the effect does not continue to the
present time.
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Re: QOTD: Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged  [#permalink]

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10 May 2018, 23:12
Indeed. This is actually a very classical usage of Past Perfect.

Two things happened in the past:

i) Destruction of some buildings last year

ii) Construction of buildings in violation of the city's building code

Both these events happened in the past and so, the event that happened earlier (Construction of buildings) is expressed as past perfect (had been constructed).

p.s. Our book EducationAisle Sentence Correction Nirvana discusses Past perfect tense, its application and examples in significant detail. If someone is interested, PM me your email-id; I can mail the corresponding section.
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Re: Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthqua  [#permalink]

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13 Jun 2019, 14:15
GMATNinja wrote:
This one is a classic, with a nice mix of mechanical and meaning issues. And it's even featured in this week's Topic of the Week: our long-winded Beginner's Guide to GMAT SC. Good times.

Quote:
(A) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year were

It makes no sense to say "destroyed and heavily damaged" -- it should be an "or", not an "and." And I'm also not crazy about the verb tenses, but we'll say more about that in a moment. Eliminate (A).

Quote:
(B) Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been

Hm, the "had been" makes a whole lot of sense here. Whenever you see "had + verb" (past perfect tense, if you like jargon), you'll want to look for some other action that happened later in the past -- generally, a later action that's in simple past tense. In this case "buildings... had been constructed in violation of the city's building code" certainly happened before the buildings "were destroyed or heavily damaged" in the earthquake.

That's a textbook, perfect use of past perfect. Keep (B).

Quote:
(C) Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthquake last year have been

The "and" problem is the same as in (A), and the verb tenses make no sense: it sounds like the buildings were built after they were destroyed in the earthquake, and that clearly isn't the point of the sentence. Eliminate (C).

Quote:
(D) Last year the earthquake destroyed or heavily damaged some buildings that have been

This has the same verb tense error as in (C). So (D) is gone, too.

Quote:
(E) Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake had been

Hm, this looks an awful lot like (B). Verb tenses are fine.

So basically, we've eliminated (A), (C), and (D) based on somewhat mechanical errors, and now we're down to two choices. We discussed this situation -- and this exact example -- in detail in our SC Guide for Beginners this week. Let's compare these last two choices again, side by side:

(B) Some buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake last year had been
(E) Last year some of the buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the earthquake had been

The only real difference is the placement of the phrase “last year.” In (B), “last year” is right next to “earthquake,” and it seems to be telling us that the earthquake occurred last year. That seems reasonable.

But (E) subtly expresses the wrong idea. “Last year” is right at the beginning of the sentence, suggesting that the entire first clause is the thing that happened last year: “some of the buildings… [modifier blah blah]… had been constructed in violation of the city’s building code.” But that doesn’t make sense: the buildings weren’t constructed last year.

So we can eliminate (E), and (B) is our winner.

I am having some difficulties with verb tenses. Can you guide how to approach such questions? I have read the conceptual part and got an idea about which tenses are used when , but still get the SC questions wrong based on tenses.
Re: Some buildings that were destroyed and heavily damaged in the earthqua   [#permalink] 13 Jun 2019, 14:15
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