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# The nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote the only eyewitness

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SVP
Joined: 24 Sep 2005
Posts: 1832
The nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote the only eyewitness  [#permalink]

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29 Sep 2005, 10:44
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The nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote the only eyewitness account of the great eruption of Vesuvius in two letters to the historian Tacitus.

A. The nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote the only eyewitness account of the great eruption of Vesuvius in two letters to the historian Tacitus
B. To the historian Tacitus, the nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote two letters, being the only eyewitness accounts of the great eruption of Vesuvius.
C. The only eyewitness account is in two letters by the nephew of Pliny the Elder writing to the historian Tacitus an account of the great eruption of Vesuvius.
D. Writing the only eyewitness account, Pliny the Elder's nephew accounted for the great eruption of Vesuvius in two letters to the historian Tacitus.
E. In two letters to the historian Tacitus, the nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote the only eyewitness account of the great eruption of Vesuvius.

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Senior Manager
Joined: 22 Jun 2005
Posts: 353
Location: London

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30 Sep 2005, 02:35
IMO it's E.

In two letters to the historian Tacitus, the nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote the only eyewitness account of the great eruption of Vesuvius.

B and D have misplaced modifiers.
C is out cause the only eyewitness is in two letter?
A and E are left. It's really difficult to see anything wrong with
A but I'll go for E.
SVP
Joined: 24 Sep 2005
Posts: 1832

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05 Oct 2005, 02:55
Sorry for my late OA which is indeed E as you all picked.
OE is as follow:
E, the best choice, conveys its meaning clearly, without ambiguity, and uses straightforward syntax. In A, the placement of the phrase in two letters to the historian Tacitus generates ambiguity: the nonsensical suggestion is that the eruption of Vesuvius took place in the letters themselves. In B, the verb phrase that begins being the only eyewitness accounts modifies the subject of the prededing clause, suggesting nonsensically that the nephew of Pliny the Elder himself was the eyewitness accounts. Furthermore, To the historian Tacitus, the nephew...wrote two letters is unnecessarily clumsy. In C, the meaning of the sentence is unclear( The only eyewitness account of what?), the repetition of account is clumsy, and the syntax is highly convoluted(...in two letters by the nephew of Pliny the Elder writing to the historian Tacitus an account...). In D, Writing the only eyewitness account, Pliny the Elder's nephew accounted is redundant, and the placement of in two letters to the historian Tacitus generates ambiguity, suggesting under one available reading that the eruption took place in the letters.
GMAT Club Legend
Joined: 07 Jul 2004
Posts: 4939
Location: Singapore

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05 Oct 2005, 03:51
A- Awkward phrasing
B - illogically suggest the letter did the writing
C - 'writing' (to the historian Tacitus) is redundant
D- Problem with tenses

E is the best choice.
Intern
Joined: 19 Jun 2005
Posts: 30

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11 Apr 2006, 07:55
I agree with E,

I have a doubt with the given explanation :

B : To the historian Tacitus, the nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote two letters, being the only eyewitness accounts of the great eruption of Vesuvius.

In B, the verb phrase that begins being the only eyewitness accounts modifies the subject of the prededing clause, suggesting nonsensically that the nephew of Pliny the Elder himself was the eyewitness accounts

Wouldnt the clause that starts with "Being" modify either Tacitus or two letters? How should we determine whether it modifies the subject or nearest Verb?

Thanks
Intern
Joined: 19 Jun 2005
Posts: 30

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11 Apr 2006, 21:42
Y r ppl so obsessive abt count of posts over here... I dont c a single soul answering to the clarification posted by the last poster. Intead the posters just post the answer WITHOUT any value addition as though there is a poll whose decision will be based on no of votes ..
Senior Manager
Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 465

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11 Apr 2006, 23:06
avomc wrote:
I agree with E,

I have a doubt with the given explanation :

B : To the historian Tacitus, the nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote two letters, being the only eyewitness accounts of the great eruption of Vesuvius.

In B, the verb phrase that begins being the only eyewitness accounts modifies the subject of the prededing clause, suggesting nonsensically that the nephew of Pliny the Elder himself was the eyewitness accounts

Wouldnt the clause that starts with "Being" modify either Tacitus or two letters? How should we determine whether it modifies the subject or nearest Verb?

Thanks

Modifier sometimes modifies subject of the preceding clause, somentimes verb or sometimes whole clause. It depends on the type of modifier.
Normally, adverbial modifier modifies entire preceding phrase. Here "Being" is modifying entire phrase "the nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote two letters".
Manager
Joined: 11 Mar 2008
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27 Oct 2008, 21:00
Quote:
E. In two letters to the historian Tacitus, the nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote the only eyewitness account of the great eruption of Vesuvius

Can I argue that it is the nephew who is in two l letters i.e. "In two letters to the historian Tacitus" modifies "the nephew of Pliny the Elder"?
VP
Joined: 15 Jul 2004
Posts: 1337
Schools: Wharton (R2 - submitted); HBS (R2 - submitted); IIMA (admitted for 1 year PGPX)

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29 Oct 2008, 09:15
snaps wrote:
Quote:
E. In two letters to the historian Tacitus, the nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote the only eyewitness account of the great eruption of Vesuvius

Can I argue that it is the nephew who is in two l letters i.e. "In two letters to the historian Tacitus" modifies "the nephew of Pliny the Elder"?

I wish somebody could explain this extremely genuine concern. I am almost certain that the explanation will be that it sounds idiomatic to the ear. Certain aspects of English Language are a bit too hard for the non-native speakers like myself to understand.
SVP
Joined: 29 Aug 2007
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29 Oct 2008, 09:44
dwivedys wrote:
snaps wrote:
Quote:
E. In two letters to the historian Tacitus, the nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote the only eyewitness account of the great eruption of Vesuvius

Can I argue that it is the nephew who is in two l letters i.e. "In two letters to the historian Tacitus" modifies "the nephew of Pliny the Elder"?

I wish somebody could explain this extremely genuine concern. I am almost certain that the explanation will be that it sounds idiomatic to the ear. Certain aspects of English Language are a bit too hard for the non-native speakers like myself to understand.

laxieqv wrote:
The nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote the only eyewitness account of the great eruption of Vesuvius in two letters to the historian Tacitus.

A. The nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote the only eyewitness account of the great eruption of Vesuvius in two letters to the historian Tacitus
B. To the historian Tacitus, the nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote two letters, being the only eyewitness accounts of the great eruption of Vesuvius.
C. The only eyewitness account is in two letters by the nephew of Pliny the Elder writing to the historian Tacitus an account of the great eruption of Vesuvius.
D. Writing the only eyewitness account, Pliny the Elder's nephew accounted for the great eruption of Vesuvius in two letters to the historian Tacitus.
E. In two letters to the historian Tacitus, the nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote the only eyewitness account of the great eruption of Vesuvius.

"the nephew of Pliny the Elder wrote" modifies "In two letters to the historian Tacitus".

OE given by laxieqv is much clear.

laxieqv wrote:
Sorry for my late OA which is indeed E as you all picked.
OE is as follow:
E, the best choice, conveys its meaning clearly, without ambiguity, and uses straightforward syntax. In A, the placement of the phrase in two letters to the historian Tacitus generates ambiguity: the nonsensical suggestion is that the eruption of Vesuvius took place in the letters themselves. In B, the verb phrase that begins being the only eyewitness accounts modifies the subject of the prededing clause, suggesting nonsensically that the nephew of Pliny the Elder himself was the eyewitness accounts. Furthermore, To the historian Tacitus, the nephew...wrote two letters is unnecessarily clumsy. In C, the meaning of the sentence is unclear( The only eyewitness account of what?), the repetition of account is clumsy, and the syntax is highly convoluted(...in two letters by the nephew of Pliny the Elder writing to the historian Tacitus an account...). In D, Writing the only eyewitness account, Pliny the Elder's nephew accounted is redundant, and the placement of in two letters to the historian Tacitus generates ambiguity, suggesting under one available reading that the eruption took place in the letters.

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Re: SC the nephew &nbs [#permalink] 29 Oct 2008, 09:44
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