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Re: The overwhelming number of American prospectors in the Klondike Gold [#permalink]
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Official Explanation:

The overwhelming number of American prospectors in the Klondike Gold Rush was precipitated by the Panic of 1896, which in turn had been precipitated by the Panic of 1893, precipitating itself three years earlier by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.

A. precipitating itself three years earlier
B. which itself had been precipitated three years earlier
C. itself being precipitated three years earlier
D. having been three years earlier precipitated itself
E. three years earlier itself having been precipitated


When answer choices are relatively short and have a lot of differences among them, it is important to consider the entire sentence, not just the underlined portion, to figure out what we really need to evaluate within the answer choices.

The main clause in the sentence is “The overwhelming number of American prospectors in the Klondike Gold Rush was precipitated by the Panic of 1896.” “Was precipitated” is passive voice, which is usually avoided, but this is in the non-underlined portion of the sentence, so the choice of passive voice must be for a reason. Passive voice is when the action is being done to the subject, versus the subject doing the action. In this sentence, it was important for us to see that what caused the action was the Panic of 1896, and there is a relative clause modifying the Panic of 1896. We learn that the Panic of 1896 had been precipitated by the Panic of 1893. The relative clause used the past perfect construction (had been precipitated) to indicate this occurred before the Panic of 1896 precipitated a large number of prospectors in the gold rush.

Our review of the non-underlined portion shows that we are looking at a sequence of events, with the most recent event listed first and then we are moving back in time. One event was caused by another which was caused by another, etc.

With that in mind, let’s go through our answer choices one by one.

Option A: precipitating itself three years earlier
An event cannot precipitate (or cause or lead to) itself. One event must cause another event. This cannot be the correct answer.

Option B: which itself had been precipitated three years earlier
This creates another relative clause, which makes the sentence parallel. It also uses the past perfect tense to show that the Sherman Silver Act led to the Panic of 1893. This sentence makes sense and uses the correct wording and parallel construction. This could be our answer.

Option C: itself being precipitated three years earlier
The use of an -ing word here is weaker than using a verb, and the construction is very awkward. This cannot be the best answer.

Option D: having been three years earlier precipitated itself
Why use a gerund (having) rather than a verb? It’s a weak construction. The placement of “three years earlier” makes it unclear what is being modified, and it is an awkward construction. This cannot be the best answer.

Option E: three years earlier itself having been precipitated
This placement makes it seem like “itself” happened three years earlier. That doesn’t make any sense. This also uses the gerund construction versus a verb in past perfect. This cannot be the best answer.

We have successfully eliminated four answer choices and are left with an answer that is parallel, uses strong construction, and makes sense. Option B is the best answer.
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Re: The overwhelming number of American prospectors in the Klondike Gold [#permalink]
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Raxit85 wrote:
The overwhelming number of American prospectors in the Klondike Gold Rush was precipitated by the Panic of 1896, which in turn had been precipitated by the Panic of 1893, precipitating itself three years earlier by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.

Meaning: The overwhelming no. of prospectors in some Gold Rush was precipitated by the PANIC of 1896, which in turn had been precipitated by the PANIC of 1893 (next must define the panic of 1893), precipitating itself three years earlier by some Act.
-ing form of modifier immediately after comma usually modifies the preceding noun or action and here modifier seems to modify PANIC of 1893, precipitating as a result of PANIC but there is no timeframe of the precipitated action, which changes the meaning. So, incorrect.

A. precipitating itself three years earlier - Incorrect as above explaination.
B. which itself had been precipitated three years earlier - seems correctly expressed with relative pronoun and correct time frame of action.
C. itself being precipitated three years earlier - usage of being is incorrect.
D. having been three years earlier precipitated itself - usage of having been precipitated in correct as it's not continuous process.
E. three years earlier itself having been precipitated - same as above and incorrect use of misplaced modifier

Imo. B


Well done Raxit85! You cracked the code on this one! I like that you focused on breaking down the overall meaning of the whole sentence, which is exactly what you should do if you struggle to find any easy splits!

Kudos to you!
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Re: The overwhelming number of American prospectors in the Klondike Gold [#permalink]
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suchithra wrote:
The underlined portion provides information about what caused the Panic of 1893 ( A noun phrase). The underlines portion does not describe the complete previous clause "which in turn had been precipitated by the Panic of 1893". Therefore Verb-ing is incorrect.

However I am not very sure if my reasoning is right for usage of itself and I hope Empower gmat can shed some light. When you use a reflexive pronoun like itself, you should have a clear antecedent in the same clause. Option B is the only that provides this and one can eliminate other 4 options directly.

A. precipitating itself three years earlier
Verb-ing cannot be used to modify a Noun phrase
B. which itself had been precipitated three years earlier
Correct.
C. itself being precipitated three years earlier
Being here is in continuous verb form and that logically doesnt make sense with three years earlier.
D. having been three years earlier precipitated itself
Sounds odd to me since precipitated is very far from having been.
Note : “Having been” is the past participle form and used to emphasize that a first action has been completed before the second action begins.
E. three years earlier itself having been precipitated
Awkward modifier structure/Weird placement of words.


Well done suchithra! You did a great job of looking at the non-underlined parts of the sentence for help! Hopefully the official explanation we posted this afternoon will answer your questions. If not, feel free to tag me at EMPOWERgmatVerbal or send a message, and I'll be glad to help you work through it!

Kudos to you!
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Re: The overwhelming number of American prospectors in the Klondike Gold [#permalink]
Hello from the GMAT Club VerbalBot!

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Re: The overwhelming number of American prospectors in the Klondike Gold [#permalink]
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