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Substantive clauses - What caused the $100 million museum's approval a

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Substantive clauses - What caused the $100 million museum's approval a [#permalink]

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New post 03 Sep 2017, 09:11
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Question Stats:

56% (00:41) correct 44% (00:44) wrong based on 275 sessions

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What caused the $100 million museum's approval and construction to take 12 years was a combination of the complexity of the financing requirements and the opposition of several small but vocal constituencies.
A)What caused
B)What has caused
C)The thing that caused
D)That which caused
E)Causing
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

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Substantive clauses - What caused the $100 million museum's approval a [#permalink]

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New post 03 Sep 2017, 09:12
Can anyone/you elaborate as to why C is wrong?
I see it as following -
The thing [that caused the $100 million museum's approval and construction to take 12 years] was a combination of the complexity of the financing requirements and the opposition of several small but vocal constituencies.
Main clause - The thing [that caused the $100 million museum's approval and construction to take 12 years] was a combination of the complexity of the financing requirements and the opposition of several small but vocal constituencies.

I understand that this is a substantive clause starting with relative pronoun "what" but i got this question wrong as i only realized it when i saw the answer and explanation. So can anyone please elaborate as to why to choose A compared to C
OR
how to understand as to when A (substantive clause) to use and when to use C(normal construction) ?
Helpful resource: Magoosh Substantive clause - https://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/substanti ... -the-gmat/

Last edited by manishtank1988 on 03 Sep 2017, 09:16, edited 1 time in total.

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Substantive clauses - What caused the $100 million museum's approval a [#permalink]

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manishtank1988 wrote:
What caused the $100 million museum's approval and construction to take 12 years was a combination of the complexity of the financing requirements and the opposition of several small but vocal constituencies.
A)What caused
B)What has caused
C)The thing that caused
D)That which caused
E)Causing


Official answer -
Read the Original Sentence Carefully, Looking for Errors:

The sentence as written contains no errors. The singular relative pronoun "what" is properly used to refer to the singular "a combination": "What caused [these things to happen] was a combination [of other things]." The past tense "caused" is correct, as it matches the non-underlined past tense "was." Plan on selecting (A), but check the other choices to make sure nothing was overlooked.

Scan and Group the Answer Choices:

A quick scan does not reveal any patterns that lead to a useful grouping. The choices are short, so just proceed to analyze them more carefully.

Eliminate Wrong Answer Choices:

(B) uses the present perfect "has caused," which is not parallel to the past tense "was." Had the sentence said has been a combination ..., then "has caused" would have been parallel. Eliminate (B).

(C) replaces "what" with "the thing that." While this is not grammatically incorrect, it is unnecessarily wordy. Eliminate (C).

(D) replaces "what" with "that which." This is not grammatically incorrect, but it is a less common wording in modern English and it uses two words where one would do. Since there is no reason to switch from "what" to "that which," eliminate (D).

(E) uses the wrong verb tense with "causing." This can be seen by rearranging the original sentence to read A combination of ... was what caused the ... But (E) would read A combination of ... was causing the ..., which distorts the meaning of the sentence. The sentence wants to describe events that happened and were completed in the past. The simple past tense, "was" and "caused," is appropriate here.

As expected, (A) is correct.

TAKEAWAY: Don‘t forget that (A) is correct about 20 percent of the time, just like each of the other choices. Don't be so eager to find errors that you “find” mistakes that aren’t there.

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Re: Substantive clauses - What caused the $100 million museum's approval a [#permalink]

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New post 03 Sep 2017, 09:19
manishtank1988 wrote:
Can anyone/you elaborate as to why C is wrong?
I see it as following -
The thing [that caused the $100 million museum's approval and construction to take 12 years] was a combination of the complexity of the financing requirements and the opposition of several small but vocal constituencies.
Main clause - The thing [that caused the $100 million museum's approval and construction to take 12 years] was a combination of the complexity of the financing requirements and the opposition of several small but vocal constituencies.

I understand that this is a substantive clause starting with relative pronoun "what" but i got this question wrong as i only realized it when i saw the answer and explanation. So can anyone please elaborate as to why to choose A compared to C
OR
how to understand as to when A (substantive clause) to use and when to use C(normal construction) ?
Helpful resource: Magoosh Substantive clause - https://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/substanti ... -the-gmat/


Hi manishtank1988 ,

The only reason I rejected C is that it says "The thing was a combination".

Meaning wise it is wrong. Combination cannot be a thing. Hence, C is 100% incorrect.

A is using the phrase "what caused something was a combination of X and Y".

Hence, A is correct.

Does that make sense?
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Re: Substantive clauses - What caused the $100 million museum's approval a [#permalink]

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New post 03 Sep 2017, 09:32
abhimahna wrote:
manishtank1988 wrote:
Can anyone/you elaborate as to why C is wrong?
I see it as following -
The thing [that caused the $100 million museum's approval and construction to take 12 years] was a combination of the complexity of the financing requirements and the opposition of several small but vocal constituencies.
Main clause - The thing [that caused the $100 million museum's approval and construction to take 12 years] was a combination of the complexity of the financing requirements and the opposition of several small but vocal constituencies.

I understand that this is a substantive clause starting with relative pronoun "what" but i got this question wrong as i only realized it when i saw the answer and explanation. So can anyone please elaborate as to why to choose A compared to C
OR
how to understand as to when A (substantive clause) to use and when to use C(normal construction) ?
Helpful resource: Magoosh Substantive clause - https://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/substanti ... -the-gmat/


Hi manishtank1988 ,

The only reason I rejected C is that it says "The thing was a combination".

Meaning wise it is wrong. Combination cannot be a thing. Hence, C is 100% incorrect.

A is using the phrase "what caused something was a combination of X and Y".

Hence, A is correct.

Does that make sense?



First of all thanks a lot abhimahna for an immediate response - i really appreciate it.
Secondly, i do see that Combination cannot be a thing sounds extremely awkward; however, why can't a "combination" (abstract noun) can't be a "thing" (common noun).
Finally, i would add that i sort of see the point here but i am asking above question just for my clarity.
Thanks a lot for immediate response.
Happy learning :thumbup:

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Re: Substantive clauses - What caused the $100 million museum's approval a [#permalink]

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New post 03 Sep 2017, 09:41
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manishtank1988 wrote:

First of all thanks a lot abhimahna for an immediate response - i really appreciate it.
Secondly, i do see that Combination cannot be a thing sounds extremely awkward; however, why can't a "combination" (abstract noun) can't be a "thing" (common noun).
Finally, i would add that i sort of see the point here but i am asking above question just for my clarity.
Thanks a lot for immediate response.
Happy learning :thumbup:


Hi manishtank1988 ,

Well, I donot prefer awkwardness as a reason to reject any option unless I don't have any other option.

As per English usage, a thing should be something physical while "a combination" is not any objector physically existing item. The word combination suggests we are combining two things rather than the two things themselves.

Hence, C is incorrect.

Does that make sense?
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Re: Substantive clauses - What caused the $100 million museum's approval a [#permalink]

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New post 03 Sep 2017, 10:42
abhimahna wrote:
manishtank1988 wrote:

First of all thanks a lot abhimahna for an immediate response - i really appreciate it.
Secondly, i do see that Combination cannot be a thing sounds extremely awkward; however, why can't a "combination" (abstract noun) can't be a "thing" (common noun).
Finally, i would add that i sort of see the point here but i am asking above question just for my clarity.
Thanks a lot for immediate response.
Happy learning :thumbup:


Hi manishtank1988 ,

Well, I donot prefer awkwardness as a reason to reject any option unless I don't have any other option.

As per English usage, a thing should be something physical while "a combination" is not any objector physically existing item. The word combination suggests we are combining two things rather than the two things themselves.

Hence, C is incorrect.

Does that make sense?


Absolutely, thanks a lot abhimahna.
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Re: Substantive clauses - What caused the $100 million museum's approval a [#permalink]

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New post 06 Sep 2017, 19:34
To me, A and C looked grammatically correct (abstract, yeah yeah... I get it now). BUUUUUUT I chose A for a different reason. C just sounded wordier. That's all.

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Re: Substantive clauses - What caused the $100 million museum's approval a [#permalink]

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New post 06 Sep 2017, 22:43
manishtank1988 wrote:
What caused the $100 million museum's approval and construction to take 12 years was a combination of the complexity of the financing requirements and the opposition of several small but vocal constituencies.
A)What caused
B)What has caused
C)The thing that caused
D)That which caused
E)Causing



As has already been posted by abhimahna I guess it would again be a repetition. however I felt I had to voice my reason for choosing A.
Thing by definition is
1. an object that one need not, cannot, or does not wish to give a specific name to.
Ex: "look at that metal rail thing over there"
synonyms: object, article, item, artefact, commodity; More

2. an inanimate material object as distinct from a living sentient being.
"I'm not a thing, not a work of art to be cherished"

The meanings of 'thing' precisely rule out its usage in the present context because "combination" "complexity of financing requirement" and "opposition of several small but vocal constituencies" do not fit into any of the definitions of 'thing'.

This I believe constitutes reason enough to rule out C as an option.

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Re: Substantive clauses - What caused the $100 million museum's approval a [#permalink]

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New post 21 Sep 2017, 12:57
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richterscale09 wrote:
To me, A and C looked grammatically correct (abstract, yeah yeah... I get it now). BUUUUUUT I chose A for a different reason. C just sounded wordier. That's all.


D is perfect here, Hence the answer

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Re: Substantive clauses - What caused the $100 million museum's approval a   [#permalink] 21 Sep 2017, 12:57
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