The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth : GMAT Sentence Correction (SC)
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# The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth

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Magoosh GMAT Instructor
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The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth [#permalink]

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18 Jun 2013, 08:43
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The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth’s dry land first appeared when the Creator separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there is another ocean in the sky, above the firmament.
(A) appeared when the Creator separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there is
(B) appeared when the Creator had separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there is
(C) appeared when the Creator separating the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there is
(D) had appeared when the Creator had separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there was
(E) appeared when the Creator had separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there was

One of the trickier verb-form topics on the GMAT is Sequence of Tenses. For a detailed discussion of this topic, as well as an explanation of the practice question above, see this post:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/sequence-o ... orrection/
Mike
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the [#permalink]

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18 Jun 2013, 16:22
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mikemcgarry wrote:
The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth’s dry land first appeared when the Creator separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there is another ocean in the sky, above the firmament.
(A) appeared when the Creator separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there is
(B) appeared when the Creator had separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there is
(C) appeared when the Creator separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there is
(D) had appeared when the Creator had separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there was
(E) appeared when the Creator had separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there was

One of the trickier verb-form topics on the GMAT is Sequence of Tenses. For a detailed discussion of this topic, as well as an explanation of the practice question above, see this post:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/sequence-o ... orrection/
Mike

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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the [#permalink]

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18 Jun 2013, 20:33
Good explanation in the link provided.
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the [#permalink]

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19 Jun 2013, 22:48
Mike,

Although the manager agreed to a more flexible work schedule, he said that it must be posted on the bulletin board so that both management and labor will know what everyone is assigned to do.
(A) he said that it must be posted on the bulletin board so that both management and labor will know what everyone is
(B) he said it had to be posted on the bulletin board so that both management and labor knows what everyone is
(C) he said that they would have to post the assignments on the bulletin board so that management and labor knew what everyone was
(D) he said that the schedule would have to be posted on the bulletin board so that both management and labor would know what everyone was
(E) saying that the schedule had to be posted on the bulletin board so that both management and labor would know what everyone had been

Many thanks,
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the [#permalink]

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20 Jun 2013, 09:21
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hfiratozturk wrote:
Mike,
Many thanks,

Although the manager agreed to a more flexible work schedule, he said that it must be posted on the bulletin board so that both management and labor will know what everyone is assigned to do.
(A) he said that it must be posted on the bulletin board so that both management and labor will know what everyone is
(B) he said it had to be posted on the bulletin board so that both management and labor knows what everyone is
(C) he said that they would have to post the assignments on the bulletin board so that management and labor knew what everyone was
(D) he said that the schedule would have to be posted on the bulletin board so that both management and labor would know what everyone was
(E) saying that the schedule had to be posted on the bulletin board so that both management and labor would know what everyone had been

An interesting question.
(B) clearly has the agreement problem, "both management and labor knows", so it's out.
(E) commits the missing verb mistake, so it's out.
(C) has strange tenses --- why is "knew" in the past tense?? --- it's out.
Then we get to (A) & (D).
If we are going to strictly follow sequence of tense rules all the way to the end of the sentence, then (D) is perfectly correct. I imagine this is the OA the question-creator has in mind. Certainly, (D) is a valid candidate for the correct answer.
The problem is, (A) is not wrong beyond all debate. You see, there's a very subtle issue here, two different ways of looking at the sentence --
(1) view #1: everything in the second half "he said ...." is a report of the manager's words; it's all indirect speech.
(2) view #2: the part "he said ... bulletin board" is a report on what the manager said, and the rest, "so that ...", is the voice of the speaker in the sentence explaining or clarifying the implicit logic in the manager's words.
In view #1, we would have to follow sequence of tenses all the way to the end, and (D) clearly would be the answer.
In view #2, we only need sequence of tenses for the part that the manager spoke, not for the verbs in the so that clause. This is further complicated by the fact that the verb in the manager's speech is "must be posted", which technically is present tense --- the verb "must" doesn't have a past tense, so to create a past tense, we would have to use a slightly different construction, e.g. "had to be posted", which (B) has. Even in view #2, in a hyper-technical sense, (A) is incorrect. BUT, the GMAT is not going to do this to us. The GMAT is not going to have this kind of very subtle distinction as the only separation between two answer choices. The GMAT would toss in something else -- a SV agreement mistake, a pronoun mistake, an awkward idiom, etc. --- so that the one that's not correct is clearly tagged as wrong. I think (A), though incorrect, is far too close, far too debatable, and it needs some other definitive error before we can say this question has an unambiguous answer.

Does this make sense?
Mike
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the [#permalink]

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21 Jun 2013, 10:54
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rrkan wrote:
Can you please answer: If you have "and" and a "comma" between two clauses then the two clauses should be independent.

I have two sentences
I ate breakfast
I went to school.

I ate breakfast, and I went to school.
So what I am saying if there is and a comma -- The two sentences should be independent clauses.
This i read in MGMAT SC book chapter 10 -- odds & Ends strategy. Is this right ????

Well, that's a bit simplistic, because sentences can be considerably more complicated than those you quoted. For example,
While he was still a student, and before he had published any significant papers, Einstein began to ponder the ideas that lead to Relativity.
Notice, there we have a comma + "and" construction, but it joins two subordinate clauses, not two independent clauses. It's true that "and" links things in parallel, so it would not link one subordinate clause to one independent clause --- it would have to link like-to-like. In my sentence at the top of this thread, the two subordinate "that"-clauses are linked by the word "and."
It's absolutely true that you can't just stick two independent clauses next to each other separated by a comma splice ----
I ate breakfast, I went to school.
That's a run-on sentence. See
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/run-on-sen ... questions/
It's absolutely true that, to avoid a run-on sentence, you need to join two independent clauses with the word "and" as well as a comma. BUT, from that, you cannot conclude that all clauses joined by "and" + comma have to be independent. In more complicated sentences, you can join two subordinate clauses by "and" + comma as well.
Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth [#permalink]

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29 Mar 2014, 16:30
mikemcgarry wrote:
The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth’s dry land first appeared when the Creator separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there is another ocean in the sky, above the firmament.
(A) appeared when the Creator separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there is
(B) appeared when the Creator had separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there is
(C) appeared when the Creator separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there is
(D) had appeared when the Creator had separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there was
(E) appeared when the Creator had separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there was

One of the trickier verb-form topics on the GMAT is Sequence of Tenses. For a detailed discussion of this topic, as well as an explanation of the practice question above, see this post:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/sequence-o ... orrection/
Mike

Mike is it me or are A and C identical?
If so, how can this be?
Cheers
J
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth [#permalink]

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31 Mar 2014, 09:33
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jlgdr wrote:
Mike is it me or are A and C identical?
If so, how can this be?
Cheers
J

Dear jlgdr,
How can this be? Every one makes mistakes: that's how! I tweaked the choices, so they are no longer identical here. I'm surprised no one caught this earlier. Within Magoosh, this questions has undergone several rounds of revisions, and looks very little like this original form at this point.
Mike
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth [#permalink]

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01 Apr 2014, 01:13
I think it is case of reporting past events. So all simple pasts become past perfect and all simple presents become simple pasts
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth [#permalink]

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05 Apr 2014, 06:59
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Good day Mike,
I have little problem with this SC question. I marked option E, thinking the structure as 2 separate events, with past perfect <had separated the “water above” from the “water below”, >,,,,and simple past < that there was....>...
I don't understand, why we need "had appeared", in option D, instead of simply "appeared", as in option E...
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth [#permalink]

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06 Apr 2014, 02:39
I marked E and I am surprised that the answer is D. Waiting for a stunning explanation from Mike...
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth [#permalink]

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07 Apr 2014, 14:01
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srinjoy28 wrote:
Good day Mike,
I have little problem with this SC question. I marked option E, thinking the structure as 2 separate events, with past perfect <had separated the “water above” from the “water below”, >,,,,and simple past < that there was....>...
I don't understand, why we need "had appeared", in option D, instead of simply "appeared", as in option E...

gmatter0913 wrote:
I marked E and I am surprised that the answer is D. Waiting for a stunning explanation from Mike...

Dear srinjoy28 and gmatter0913,
To be honest, this question has gone through several revisions internally, making the differences much more clear between right and wrong answers. I am no longer super-happy about the version that is posted here.

Technically, the issue is sequence of tenses, which governs tense rules in indirect speech. You can read the rules here.
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/sequence-o ... orrection/

The difference between (D) and (E) in this version is too slight and nit-picky to be a good GMAT question. Here's version (D)
The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth’s dry land first had appeared when the Creator had separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there was another ocean in the sky, above the firmament.
The people with these beliefs are in the past, which is why "believed" is in the past tense. Anything that was a past event from their perspective should be in the past perfect in indirect speech. Both "appeared" and "separated" are in the past of the people who had these beliefs; therefore, both these verbs should be in the past perfect tense.
By contrast, the existence of the second ocean, above the firmament, would have been a present event for the folks who had these beliefs. In other words, if we went back in a time machine and interviewed them, they would say, "God separated the waters and dry land appeared a long time ago, but right now, as we speak, there's another ocean up there above the firmament." Anything that is present tense for the people who held those beliefs must be in the simple past tense in indirect speech. That's why there's a tense difference between the first two verbs and the last.

You see, the funny thing is --- if multiple events happen at different times, but all in the past for the speaker or for the person who held the beliefs, then all of those events at different times, have the same tense: past perfect. This much is the same as any ordinary use of past perfect --- if there is a series of past events, and we are comparing all the earlier ones to the most recent, then the most recent is in the past, and all those previous events at different times are lumped into the past perfect.
By the time Michelangelo painted the Last Judgement, he has already done X, had carved Y, and had painted Z.
Those events, X, Y, and Z might be separated by decades, but they are all in the past with respect to the main focus, the Last Judgement.

Furthermore, the action of "separating" and the action of "appearing" --- did they really happen at different times? or were they, for all intents and purposes, simultaneous? Did dry land appear the moment that the waters were separated?? Of course, for this, we would have to have a detailed understanding of the philosophical worldview involved. I point out, though, it's at least possible that these two are simultaneous, which is another good reason for them to have the same tense as each other.

So, those are technical reasons why (D) is better than (E), though once again, we have revised this question a few times, and I am no longer happy to this earlier unrevised version.

Mike
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth [#permalink]

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15 Apr 2014, 18:54
Mike, very much appreciate your in-depth explanations.

I have always been a bit shaky on when the past perfect is required vs when it can be used.

(A) appeared when the Creator separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there was

would it be preferable over (D)?

is it valid to assume that the creation of land predated the existence of the ancient civilization?
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth [#permalink]

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16 Apr 2014, 09:17
m3equals333 wrote:
Mike, very much appreciate your in-depth explanations.

I have always been a bit shaky on when the past perfect is required vs when it can be used.

(A) appeared when the Creator separated the “water above” from the “water below”, and that there was

would it be preferable over (D)?

is it valid to assume that the creation of land predated the existence of the ancient civilization?

Dear m3equals333,
I'm happy to respond.

We don't need to have an in-depth knowledge of this ancient worldview, but I think we can agree that there had to be an Earth in the first place before anyone could form a civilization on the Earth. The creation of land absolutely had to happen before anyone started farming or hunting or building houses or anything, so the formation of a civilization absolutely had to come later.

Therefore, that version of (A) is not correct. Everything associated with Creation had to be in the past of the folks who believed this worldview, because by the time they had these beliefs, they were already standing on an Earth that was already in existence. That's why both "appeared" and "separated" must be in the past perfect. I recommend reading this blog:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/sequence-o ... orrection/

Mike
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth [#permalink]

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16 Apr 2014, 13:02
I have a doubt on the usage of 'was' instead of 'is' in the option D & E for the post at the Magoosh Blog..Does it not result in a change of meaning intended?

People believed that there is another ocean in the sky
People believed that there was another ocean in the sky

Ty
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth [#permalink]

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16 Apr 2014, 14:37
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JusTLucK04 wrote:
I have a doubt on the usage of 'was' instead of 'is' in the option D & E for the post at the Magoosh Blog..Does it not result in a change of meaning intended?

People believed that there is another ocean in the sky
People believed that there was another ocean in the sky

Ty

Dear Ty,
The difference here is not the difference between two valid grammatical constructions with different meanings. Rather, it is the difference between what is correct and what is not correct. When folks are not clear on the rules of grammar, as is often the case in colloquial conversation, all sorts of unintended meanings can arise.

You have to be clear on the sequence of tenses rules. The "believing" is in the past, so anything that those past believers would have considered true in their present would be indicated by the simple past tense, and anything that those past believers considered already done and part of their past would be indicated by the past perfect.

1) People believed that there was another ocean in the sky = If we asked those past people, they would have said, "There's an ocean in the sky right now."
2) People believed that there had been another ocean in the sky = If we asked those past people, they would have said, "Once, there was an ocean in the sky, but that's no longer the case."
3) People believed that there is another ocean in the sky = grammatically incorrect and therefore meaningless
For #3, the statement is meaningless in and of itself, but we can surmise that the person who said that was trying to say #1, as this is identical to a mistake pattern in colloquial English.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth [#permalink]

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16 Apr 2014, 22:02
Today------------------------People Believed that there was a ghost but thats not the case anymore-------------------------Ghost in the town

People believed that there had been a ghost in the town.

Today------------------------People Believe that there still is a ghost in the town.........................Ghost in town

People believed that there was a ghost in the town

Today- they don't believe in the ghost--------------------People Believe that there still is a ghost in the town.........................Ghost in town

People had been believing that there was a ghost in the town

Today-Believe in the presence of a ghost--------------------People Believe that there still is a ghost in the town.........................Ghost in town

If I have to explicitly emphasize on the past history of the event:
People believe and have been believing for quite long that there is a ghost in the town

Did I do them correctly?

ThankYou
Justluck04
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth [#permalink]

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17 Apr 2014, 09:45
JusTLucK04 wrote:
Today------------------------People Believed that there was a ghost but thats not the case anymore-------------------------Ghost in the town
People believed that there had been a ghost in the town.

Today------------------------People Believe that there still is a ghost in the town.........................Ghost in town
People believed that there was a ghost in the town

Today- they don't believe in the ghost--------------------People Believe that there still is a ghost in the town.........................Ghost in town
People had been believing that there was a ghost in the town

Today-Believe in the presence of a ghost--------------------People Believe that there still is a ghost in the town.........................Ghost in town
If I have to explicitly emphasize on the past history of the event:
People believe and have been believing for quite long that there is a ghost in the town

Did I do them correctly?
Thank You
Justluck04

Dear Justluck04,
Hmm. First of all, the structure "had been believing" -- the past perfect progressive --- I can't think of any situation in which that would be correct. In general, we will use the present tense or the past tense for "believe", but unless we are contrasting the action of "believing" to some other action or event. ("Before Galileo turned his telescope on the heavens, people had believed that ...") If we are talking about people in the present time doing the believing, we use the present tense. If we are talking about people in the past doing the believing, we use the past tense. In ordinary descriptions of beliefs, those are the only tenses we need for the word "believe."

Now, let's talk about what the people believe. I had a bit of trouble following your scheme. Here's how I would present it.

Case #1:
In 1800, people said, "We believe there are ghosts in town."
We would say: "Those people in 1800 believed that there were ghosts in town."

Case #2:
In 1800, people said, "We believe there were ghosts in town at one time, but they are no longer here."
We would say: "Those people in 1800 believed that there had been ghosts in town."

Case #3:
In 2014, people say, "We believe there are ghosts in town."
We would say: "These people believe that there are ghosts in town."

Case #4:
In 2014, people say, "We believe there were ghosts in town at one time, but they are no longer here."
We would say: "These people believe that there were ghosts in town."

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth [#permalink]

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18 Apr 2014, 20:25
Believe I need to through your blog on past perfect usage..all over again
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Re: The people of the ancient Near East believed that the Earth [#permalink]

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20 Sep 2015, 02:07
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