GMAT Question of the Day: Daily via email | Daily via Instagram New to GMAT Club? Watch this Video

 It is currently 31 Mar 2020, 09:43

### GMAT Club Daily Prep

#### Thank you for using the timer - this advanced tool can estimate your performance and suggest more practice questions. We have subscribed you to Daily Prep Questions via email.

Customized
for You

we will pick new questions that match your level based on your Timer History

Track

every week, we’ll send you an estimated GMAT score based on your performance

Practice
Pays

we will pick new questions that match your level based on your Timer History

# The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were

Author Message
TAGS:

### Hide Tags

BSchool Moderator
Joined: 19 Feb 2010
Posts: 291
The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

05 May 2010, 17:14
7
53
00:00

Difficulty:

5% (low)

Question Stats:

78% (00:57) correct 22% (01:07) wrong based on 1595 sessions

### HideShow timer Statistics

The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 10th Edition, 2003

Practice Question
Question No.: SC 211
Page: 686

The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were occupied by Upper Paleolithic people has been established by carbon-14 dating, but what is much more difficult to determine are the reason for their decoration, the use to which primitive people put the caves, and the meaning of the magnificently depicted animals.

(A) has been established by carbon-14 dating, but what is much more difficult to determine are
(B) has been established by carbon-14 dating, but what is much more difficult to determine is
(C) have been established by carbon-14 dating, but what is much more difficult to determine is
(D) have been established by carbon-14 dating, but what is much more difficult to determine are
(E) are established by carbon-14 dating, but that which is much more difficult to determine is

Can anybody explain what verb we need here??
but what is much more difficult to determine are/is - the reason for their decoration(1), the use to which primitive people put the caves(2), and the meaning of the magnificently depicted animals(3).

Do we take the 3 clauses after the underlined verb as 1 plural predicate, or just as singular? For me, having it singular serves for the 1st following clause only, and I feel like we need a verb again for the other 2 clauses.
I'm not satisfied with the OA explanation which is very short and doesn't address this point, so if any of you could explain it I'd appreciate it. Thanks!!
e-GMAT Representative
Joined: 02 Nov 2011
Posts: 2983
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

06 Nov 2012, 09:53
10
4
Hi,
I received a PM to respond to this one. So here goes my analysis.

The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were occupied by Upper Paleaolithic peoples has been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine are the use to which primitive peoples put the caves, the reason for their decoration, and the meaning of the magnificently depicted animals.

Since the meaning of this sentence is very straight-forward, let me directly get to the error analysis of this question.

Error Analysis: The only error in this sentence is the SV number agreement error in the IC that begins after comma + FANBOYS. The subject of the IC after but is “what is much more difficult to determine”. This subject is a dependent clause. Whenever a clause or a phrase acts as a subject of a clause, it is always singular. So we have a singular subject here. But the verb for this subject is “are”, which is plural in number. Hence we have SV number agreement error here. This verb should be “is”.

PoE:
A. has been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine are: Incorrect for the reason stated above.

B. have been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine are: Incorrect.
1. Repeats the same SV number agreement error as in A.
2. Subject “The period” is singular and the verb used for it is plural “have been established”. We have another SV number agreement error here.

C. have been established by carbon dating, but that which is much more difficult to determine is: Incorrect.
1. Repeats the “have been established” SV error as in choice B.
2. Use of “that which” is incorrect as comma + FANBOYS should be followed by an IC.

D. has been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine is: Correct. This choice rectifies the error of choice A.

E. are established by carbon dating, but that which is much more difficult to determine is: Incorrect. Incorrect
1. Plural verb “are” does not agree in number with singular subject “The period”.
2. Repeats the comma + FANBOYS error as in choice C.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
_________________
Intern
Joined: 04 Feb 2010
Posts: 48
Schools: IESE '13
WE 1: Engineer
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

05 May 2010, 20:49
8
14
Off the bat, we can eliminate choice E because "are established" is awkward in this context.

From the remaining 4 choices, we have a choice of subject-verb agreements in two different places.

has been/have been - The first portion of the sentence is stating that THE PERIOD is known. From the word "when" onwards is just a modifier, basically describing THE period. This is singular, thus HAS BEEN.

The second instance:

is/are - The sentence wants to say what is much more difficult to determine, and then follows that with a list.

the reason
the use
the meaning

In this instance, because it is a list, and it is parallel, we make the verb agree with the first noun, or "the reason" - singular

Thus, B
##### General Discussion
Intern
Joined: 13 Jan 2016
Posts: 2
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

21 Apr 2016, 13:51
4
1
Thursdays with ron covered this question in this episode/session (skip to 29 mins)
Manager
Status: GMAT Instructor
Joined: 23 Jun 2013
Posts: 124
Location: India
GRE 1: Q790 V710
GPA: 3.3
WE: Editorial and Writing (Education)
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

31 Mar 2014, 11:31
3
2
If the fragment were "the things that are much more difficult to determine" then you needed an "are" (whether what follows "are" is "reason" or "reasons").

Because the subject (of this fragment) is "what is X" = singular, you need "is."

For e.g.
His contributions ARE doing X, doing Y, and doing Z.
His contribution IS doing X, doing Y, and doing Z.
_________________
EnterMBA
BSchool Moderator
Joined: 19 Feb 2010
Posts: 291
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

19 May 2010, 20:35
2
Ok, I asked my friend who works as an editor, and he confirms that we should use 'is' instead of 'are'. We take in consideration the first noun 'reason' only.

I was extremely confused because I read in MGMAT that when you have doubts about singular vs plural, just flip the order of the clauses. But reading again, I realize that it applies for subjects only. If it was subject it's ok because 2 or more nouns with the word 'and' become a plural subject. But this is not the case it seems.

Well, still a little confused. Accepted the fact by faith and will move forward. I hope that I won't make the same mistakes and that will make sense soon. Ohhhh, if I was just born in an English speaking country....
Retired Moderator
Status: enjoying
Joined: 19 Feb 2007
Posts: 5419
Location: India
WE: Education (Education)
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

05 Nov 2010, 07:04
2
In that case, it will not be - what is much more difficult to determine - but -what are much more difficult to determine - There is no choice that says what are much more difficult to determine-Hence the question of a compound plural subject for the second part is ruled out.
_________________
One-to-one video private sessions on SC +91 98845 44509, <newnaren@gmail.com>
Magoosh GMAT Instructor
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 4478
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

31 Oct 2016, 10:35
2
pkudinov wrote:
Hi mikemcgarry, egmat, maybe we should try to figure out this question again? I encountered it in Practice Exam 2 of GmatPrep (see attached picture).
Official Guide has similar (the-period-when-the-great-painted-caves-at-lascaux-and-93734.html) question which has an obvious answer, but this modified version... I can't understand the logic.

Dear pkudinov
I'm happy to respond.

Here's the text of the question:
The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were occupied by Upper Paleolithic people has been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine are the use to which primitive peoples put the caves, the reason for their decoration, and the meaning of the magnificently depicted animals

A) has been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine are
B) have been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine are
C) have been established by carbon dating, but that which is much more difficult to determine is
D) has been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine is
E) are been established by carbon dating, but that which is much more difficult to determine is

You know, it's funny. Almost all official questions leave me speechless with admiration. This is one of the few that leave me a bit queasy about what it is doing.

The opening split is interesting. We need the singular "has been" to agree with the singular subject "the period." Choices (A) & (D) are the only ones that survive this split. (B) & (C) have the plural form, and (E) is completely bizarre, something that no native speaker would ever pick. It surprises me to have an answer that wrong in an official question. This is not typical.

Choices (A) & (D) are identical up to the last words. A relative pronoun, such as "what" can be either singular or plural; the relative clause begun by that pronoun takes the number of the pronoun. If the "what" is singular, then all verbs referring to it or the clause should be singular, and if plural, vice versa. In all five answer choices, we get a singular verb after the word "what" inside the relative clause: "what is much more difficult to determine." That identifies the relative pronoun as singular, which makes the entire relative clause singular, and so we have to pick (D), which has the singular verb at the end. This allows us to come to an unambiguous answer.

My complaint about the question is that the word "what" ultimately refers to the three separate items listed at the end of the sentence. I feel the word "what" should be plural. That would require both verbs to be plural. Thus, I would write: "...but what are much more difficult to determine are..." Technically, I believe that would be the most correct version, but it may be that on this point I am being even more grammatically conservative than the GMAT itself. It's funny. The vast majority of questions on the GMAT accord with my conservative grammatical predilections. This is one of the few that don't.

Nevertheless, it's straightforward to find the OA of this question. Does all this make sense?
Mike
_________________
Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)
Retired Moderator
Status: enjoying
Joined: 19 Feb 2007
Posts: 5419
Location: India
WE: Education (Education)
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

05 Nov 2010, 00:44
1
1
Essentially this passage has two clauses and two subjects 1. [highlight]The period[/highlight]and 2 [highlight]the reason.[/highlight] Both are singluar. Hence the period entails the singular - [highlight]has[/highlight]– and the reason entails – [highlight]is[/highlight]- . B is the only choice that befits this norm.
_________________
One-to-one video private sessions on SC +91 98845 44509, <newnaren@gmail.com>
Magoosh GMAT Instructor
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 4478
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

09 May 2016, 15:58
1
Alex75PAris wrote:
The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were occupied by Upper Paleolithic people has been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine are the use to which primitive peoples put the caves, the reason for their decoration, and the meaning of the magnificently depicted animals

A/ has been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine are
B/ have been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine are
C/ have been established by carbon dating, but that which is much more difficult to determine is
D/ has been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine is
E/ are been established by carbon dating, but that which is much more difficult to determine is

Dear Alex75PAris,
I'm happy to respond.

I'm not a big fan of this particular question. It's a simple test of SVA, and rhetorically, it not admirable in its structure. It doesn't feel GMAT-like.

Split #1:
subject "the period" = singular
We need a singular verb.
(A) has been = singular
(B) have been = plural and incorrect
(C) have been = plural and incorrect
(D) has been = singular
(E) are been = freakshow wrong
Choice (E) here is a completely embarrassing choice. It's hard to imagine who would pick that.

Split #2:
The final subject "the use . . . , the reason ...., and the meaning ..." is plural. We need a plural verb.
I actually would argue that both verbs should be plural in the second half of the sentence:
" . . . but what are much more difficult to determine are the X, Y, and Z."
This is not an option. I suspect that the question author had some picayune SVA technicality in mind when he wrote the question. This is NOT a GMAT-like question: the GMAT does not search out picayune distinctions such as this. The author of the question was trying to write a hard question without really understanding what make the GMAT hard.

I don't know whether the author would argue that (A) or (D) is a better answer, and I am not really interested in their argument.

Here's a much more GMAT-like SC practice question:
The FDA enacted

Does all this make sense?
Mike
_________________
Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)
Intern
Joined: 13 May 2016
Posts: 5
Location: Singapore
GMAT 1: 670 Q49 V32
GPA: 3.73
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

30 Oct 2016, 00:04
1
Hi mikemcgarry, egmat, maybe we should try to figure out this question again? I encountered it in Practice Exam 2 of GmatPrep (see attached picture).
Official Guide has similar (the-period-when-the-great-painted-caves-at-lascaux-and-93734.html) question which has an obvious answer, but this modified version... I can't understand the logic.
Attachments

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 3.59.50 PM.png [ 149.05 KiB | Viewed 15852 times ]

Manager
Joined: 21 Apr 2016
Posts: 159
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

02 Nov 2016, 15:04
1
mikemcgarry,

"This is one of the few that leaves me a bit queasy"

In the quote above, I think the highlighted portion is a typo, but please correct me if I'm wrong. Shouldn't that be "leave" plural verb.?

I know this is 180 to the discussion, but very tempted to ask.
Magoosh GMAT Instructor
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 4478
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

03 Nov 2016, 09:08
1
manhasnoname wrote:
mikemcgarry,

"This is one of the few that leaves me a bit queasy"

In the quote above, I think the highlighted portion is a typo, but please correct me if I'm wrong. Shouldn't that be "leave" plural verb.?

I know this is 180 to the discussion, but very tempted to ask.

Dear manhasnoname,

Good catch! Yes, you are perfectly correct. When I was writing it quickly, I was thinking of a "vital noun modifier" construction, but that doesn't withstand logical analysis. Of course, it's the few that bother me, not simply this one in isolation. A very perceptive catch. I corrected this mistake in the post above. Thanks!

Mike
_________________
Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)
Retired Moderator
Joined: 14 Dec 2013
Posts: 2828
Location: Germany
Schools: German MBA
GMAT 1: 780 Q50 V47
WE: Corporate Finance (Pharmaceuticals and Biotech)
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

06 Mar 2017, 10:33
1
PathFinder007 wrote:
Hi Experts,

Could you please provide your comments for subject-verb issue. what is the subject for second clause is it reason or the clause (What is much more difficult to determine)

Thanks

The subject is "what is much more difficult to determine", and therefore singular verb "is" is correct.
Director
Joined: 17 Feb 2010
Posts: 719
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

19 May 2010, 12:57
1
should be B.

The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were occupied by Upper Paleolithic people has been established by carbon-14 dating，but what is much more difficult to determine are the reason for their decoration，the use to which primitive people put the caves，and the meaning of the magnificently depicted animals．

(A) has been established by carbon-14 dating，but what is much more difficult to determine are - 'period' is singular and so we need singular 'has'. Also, 'reason' is singular and so we need 'is'
(B) has been established by carbon-14 dating，but what is much more difficult to determine is - 'period' is singular and so we need singular 'has'. Also, 'reason' is singular and so we need 'is'
(C) have been established by carbon-14 dating，but what is much more difficult to determine is
(D) have been established by carbon-14 dating，but what is much more difficult to determine are
(E) are established by carbon-14 dating，but that which is much more difficult to determine is
Current Student
Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 137
GMAT 1: 750 Q49 V42
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

05 Nov 2010, 01:01
daagh wrote:
Essentially this passage has two clauses and two subjects 1. [highlight]The period[/highlight]and 2 [highlight]the reason.[/highlight] Both are singluar. Hence the period entails the singular - [highlight]has[/highlight]– and the reason entails – [highlight]is[/highlight]- . B is the only choice that befits this norm.

Why do you think the reason alone is the subject for the second clause?

If you think that the part after is or are is the subject, wouldn't the subject be the reason, the use, and the meaning?

A, B, and C: collective nouns which are plural.
Intern
Joined: 12 Feb 2012
Posts: 21
Location: United States
GMAT Date: 08-30-2012
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

28 Oct 2012, 20:33
The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were occupied by Upper Paleaolithic peoples has been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine are the use to which primitive peoples put the caves, the reason for their decoration, and the meaning of the magnificently depicted animals.

ERROR ANALYSIS
DIVIDE THE WHOLE SENTENCE INTO TO CLAUSES N THEN TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE S-V PAIR , YOU WILL FIND THE CORRECT ANSWER .
1.The period
2.when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were occupied by Upper Paleaolithic peoples
1.has been established by carbon dating,
3.but
4.what is much more difficult to determine (Singular Subject)
3.are (IS) the use to
5.which primitive peoples put the caves, the reason for their decoration, and the meaning of the magnificently depicted animals.

A. has been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine are (IS) :WRONG
B. have (HAS) been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine are (IS) :WRONG
C. have (HAS) been established by carbon dating, but that which is much more difficult to determine is :WRONG
D. has been established by carbon dating, but what is much more difficult to determine is :CORRECT
E. are (IS) established by carbon dating, but that which is much more difficult to determine is :WRONG
Director
Joined: 03 Aug 2012
Posts: 649
Concentration: General Management, General Management
GMAT 1: 630 Q47 V29
GMAT 2: 680 Q50 V32
GPA: 3.7
WE: Information Technology (Investment Banking)
Re: The period when the great painted caves at Lascaux and Altamira were  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

30 Mar 2014, 11:30
Experts,

I am confused on this one.

I am okay with ..

The period............has been.

But I am not okay with 'to determine is' construction.

What is much more difficult to determine is X,Y, and Z.

Inverted order: X,Y, and Z are difficult to determine.

So why use 'IS' instead of 'ARE'.

Rgds,
TGC!
Intern
Joined: 03 Jun 2016
Posts: 4

### Show Tags

23 Aug 2016, 22:45
1
There are 2 splits in this question. One is the has/have (and are) split. I understand this. As the subject ('period') of the verb is singular, the verb has to be singular. Hence, it should be 'has'.

I'm confused about the second split which is towards the end of the underlined text: is/are. This example was taken up in a 'Thursdays with Ron' session wherein, he explained that when there is a list (in this case, 'use', 'reason' and 'meaning'), the entire list should be considered as one plural noun. Hence, the verb should be 'are', but that is incorrect. Pls tell me the correct rule.

TIA.
Attachments

Verbal tense qtn.PNG [ 22.89 KiB | Viewed 14028 times ]

SVP
Joined: 27 Mar 2010
Posts: 1711
Location: India
Schools: ISB
GPA: 3.31

### Show Tags

23 Aug 2016, 22:57
1
Hi Srishti_15, an easy rule to remember is that when a clause is the subject of a sentence, the subject is always singular.

Here, the subject is the following clause: what is much more difficult to determine.

Since clause is the subject of the sentence under consideration, the subject is singular (and hence the verb is).

p.s. Our book EducationAisle Sentence Correction Nirvana discusses Subject clause, its application and examples. If someone is interested, PM me your email-id; I can mail the corresponding section.
_________________
Thanks,
Ashish
GMAT-99th Percentile, MBA - ISB Hyderabad
EducationAisle, Bangalore

Sentence Correction Nirvana available on Amazon.in and Flipkart

Join us for a free GMAT Live Online Class from anywhere in the world
Re: Verb Tense   [#permalink] 23 Aug 2016, 22:57

Go to page    1   2    Next  [ 26 posts ]

Display posts from previous: Sort by