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# Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century

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Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 15 Oct 2018, 05:46
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Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century, many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood.

(A) many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood

(B) many scientists believed that phlogiston was an imaginary substance released by combustion and its properties were not fully understood

(C) phlogiston was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood and which many scientists had believed was released by combustion

(D) phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood, was believed by scientists to be released by combustion

(E) many scientists had believed that phlogiston was released by combustion and was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood

This question is part of the GMAT Club Sentence Correction : Verb Tense Revision Project.

MGMAT suggests "if the two actions are sequenced properly in the sentence, it is not necessary to use past perfect tense"..
in the sentence Until X proved, scientists had believed. Clearly suggests that " scientists believing was the first action" & Antoine proving is the action that followed it"

So do we really need "Had" in the Correct Answer Or is the answer still stands grammatically correct even after removing "had from it"

Originally posted by RaviChandra on 18 Aug 2013, 10:03.
Last edited by Bunuel on 15 Oct 2018, 05:46, edited 2 times in total.
Renamed the topic.
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Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 15 Oct 2018, 05:50
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Official Explanation:

The past perfect "had believed" is correct because it is the earlier of two past actions (the later action is "proved," which is in the simple past tense). The main clause is correctly written in active voice. The clause "an imaginary substance whose..." correctly modifies "phlogiston."

(A) CORRECT. This choice is correct as it repeats the original sentence.

(B) The simple past "believed" is incorrect because it is the earlier of two past actions and should be in the past perfect tense instead: "had believed." Moreover, "was an imaginary substance released by combustion" is unnecessarily in passive voice. Finally, the construction "and its properties were not fully understood" is incorrectly parallel with "phlogiston was released by combustion" rather than subordinate to it, as in the original sentence; this also creates ambiguity around the pronoun "its" which could refer to either combustion or phlogiston. Here parallelism is not needed.

(C) The placement of "phlogiston" immediately after the opening clause incorrectly implies that phlogiston had been imaginary until Lavoisier proved otherwise. Moreover, the sentence is unnecessarily in the passive voice.

(D) This sentence is unnecessarily in the passive voice. Moreover, "was believed" is incorrectly in the simple past tense. It should instead be in the past perfect tense ("had been believed"), because it is the earlier of two past actions.

(E) This sentence correctly uses the past perfect "had believed" but its construction incorrectly implies that scientists had believed that phlogiston was imaginary.
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Originally posted by souvik101990 on 29 Mar 2015, 20:17.
Last edited by Bunuel on 15 Oct 2018, 05:50, edited 2 times in total.
EDITED.
##### General Discussion
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Re: Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century  [#permalink]

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18 Aug 2013, 10:58
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RaviChandra wrote:
Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century, many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood.

a) many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood
b) many scientists believed that phlogiston was an imaginary substance released by combustion and its properties were not fully understood
c) phlogiston was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood and which many scientists had believed was released by combustion
d) phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood, was believed by scientists to be released by combustion
e) many scientists had believed that phlogiston was released by combustion and was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood

MGMAT suggests "if the two actions are clearly sequenced in the sentence it is not necessary to use past perfect tense"..

in the sentence Until X proved, scientists had believed. Clearly suggests that " scientists believing was the first action" & Antoine proving is the action that followed it"

So do we really need "Had" in this question .

use of HAD is not wrong since all other options has gramatical errors.

if you have to choose between 2 options having the same intended meaning..but one uses HAD and one without HAD...then you van choose the one which dont have HAD.

TAKEAWAY: Use of HAD is not gramatically incorrect even if two actions are clearly sequenced.

a) many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood
CORRECT.

b) many scientists believed that phlogiston was an imaginary substance released by combustion and its properties were not fully understood
WRONG.
==incorrect parallelism.....we need ...THAT PHLOGISTON..........AND THAT its.....(THAT ismissing)

c) phlogiston was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood and which many scientists had believed was released by combustion
WRONG.
==> WHOSE clause and WHICH clause cannot be parallel...
==>WHICH normally refers to closest noun and followed by a comma or preposition(as per official question trend)

d) phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood, was believed by scientists to be released by combustion
WRONG.
==>PASSIVE CONSTRUCTION....

e) many scientists had believed that phlogiston was released by combustion and was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood
WRONG.
==>MEANING CHANGED: scientist BELIEVED.......1) P was released by combustion..+++ they also believed 2) was an imaginary substance.
scientist dint believed that it was an imaginary substance RATHER it was an imaginary substance....

Hope it helps.
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Re: Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century  [#permalink]

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18 Aug 2013, 11:37
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RaviChandra wrote:
Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century, many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood.

a) many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood
b) many scientists believed that phlogiston was an imaginary substance released by combustion and its properties were not fully understood
c) phlogiston was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood and which many scientists had believed was released by combustion
d) phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood, was believed by scientists to be released by combustion
e) many scientists had believed that phlogiston was released by combustion and was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood

MGMAT suggests "if the two actions are sequenced properly in the sentence, it is not necessary to use past perfect tense"..

in the sentence Until X proved, scientists had believed. Clearly suggests that " scientists believing was the first action" & Antoine proving is the action that followed it"

So do we really need "Had" in the Correct Answer Or is the answer still stands grammatically correct even after removing "had from it"

My suggestion for your question.
Simple past vs Past perfect.
We use Simple Past if we give past events in the order in which they occured. However, when we look back from a certain time in the past to tell what had happened before, we use Past Perfect.

In this question, clearly we do not talk about sequence of events. However, we use the point - Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise - which happened in the past to look back other action (in the past) happened before it. Clearly, past perfect is correct.

ANALYZE THE QUESTION:

Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century, many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood.

a) many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood
Correct. Past perfect + active voice --> good grammar.

b) many scientists believed that phlogiston was an imaginary substance released by combustion and its properties were not fully understood
Wrong. "its" refers to "combustion" or "substance" --> ambiguous.

c) phlogiston was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood and which many scientists had believed was released by combustion
Wrong. Passive voice "was released..." is not necessary.

d) phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood, was believed by scientists to be released by combustion
Wrong. "believed by X to be Y" --> not preferable in GMAT. (refer idiom chapter in MGMAT - sentence correction - page 150).

e) many scientists had believed that phlogiston was released by combustion and was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood
Wrong. Between A and E, A is better by using active voice. E, however, uses passive voice.

Hope it helps.
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Re: Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century  [#permalink]

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07 Aug 2016, 05:53
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I think that this question brings into open too much of hair-splitting about the use of past perfect when even clear time references are in place. I feel that use of past perfect to describe deeper past of the two past events is neither correct nor incorrect; it is optional when the pastness of the two events happens to be a recent event. For example, look at this sentence.

Vietnam had never won a single gold medal in the Olympics, until Hoang Xuan broke the jinx on Saturday, the 6th of August 2016 by winning the men's 10-metre air pistol event and securing his country’s first award

This above sentence is much game as is the following.

Vietnam never won a single gold medal in the Olympics, until Hoang Xuan broke the jinx on Saturday, the August 6, 2016 by winning the men's 10-metre air pistol event and securing his country’s first award.

I feel the distinction between the two is more notional and optional than real.

However, as we travel deeper back, it becomes somewhat more hazy and maybe we need the past perfect, in spite of the time liners. Look at this

India had been under a savage British Rule until a half-naked fakir, M.K Gandhi with his toothless smile won a decisive freedom for his country on midnight of August 15, 1947.

Now with the passage of time, we feel it is better to put the past perfect in place, in order to make clear the sequence, despite the presence of the time liner ‘until’.

Quote:
Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century, many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood.

A. many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood

B. many scientists believed that phlogiston was an imaginary substance released by combustion and its properties were not fully understood

C. phlogiston was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood and which many scientists had believed was released by combustion

D. phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood, was believed by scientists to be released by combustion

E. many scientists had believed that phlogiston was released by combustion and was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood

Coming to the present question, my choice will be for A, not necessarily because it uses the past perfect but because it is more active and dynamic, while B and E, the nearest contenders may take backstage for simply being passive and missing on the ‘that’ parallelism.
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Re: Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century  [#permalink]

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07 May 2018, 22:15
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Timesline - prior scientists used to belive something else. later UA proved something. first one should have past perfect later one should have simple past. only A and E are following that and both are grammatically correct. but E has wrong meaning.

A. many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood

E. many scientists had believed that phlogiston was released by combustion and was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood --- Cause of and both clauses are in parallel. cause of this, following part has changed the meaiong of whole thing.

Quote:
Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century, many scientists had believed that phlogiston was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood

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Re: Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century  [#permalink]

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31 May 2018, 23:50
For option A - Passive voice ( 'whose properties were not fully understood ' ) has been used like option E. So why has E been chosen as priority over A for POE ? Thanks in advance.
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Re: Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century  [#permalink]

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01 Jun 2018, 08:34
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E is wrong not because of passive voice. E changes the meaning vastly. That phlogiston is an imaginary substance is a description of the author. E says that the scientists themselves believed it to be an imaginary stuff. One might see the difference in meaning between A and E.
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Re: Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century  [#permalink]

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01 Jun 2018, 11:57
RaviChandra wrote:
Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century, many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood.

A) many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood
B) many scientists believed that phlogiston was an imaginary substance released by combustion and its properties were not fully understood
C) phlogiston was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood and which many scientists had believed was released by combustion
D) phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood, was believed by scientists to be released by combustion
E) many scientists had believed that phlogiston was released by combustion and was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood

soumya170293 wrote:
For option A - Passive voice ( 'whose properties were not fully understood ' ) has been used like option E. So why has E been chosen as priority over A for POE ? Thanks in advance.

soumya170293 , as daagh notes, passive voice is not the issue.
Meaning distinguishes A from E. daagh wrote
Quote:
E says that the scientists themselves believed it to be an imaginary stuff.

The choice between options A and E is not a close call,
although the difference might be hard to see.

A) many scientists had believed that combustion released phlogiston, an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood

Many S had believed that C released P, [description of P] . . .

In A, phlogiston is followed by an appositive phrase [description of P]
that clarifies "phlogiston." This clarification makes sense. "Phlogiston" is a strange word.

The appositive does not suggest that the scientists
believed phlogiston to be imaginary.

E) many scientists had believed that phlogiston was released by combustion and was an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood

If the red typeface does not help much, try inserting words that are implied by the sentence.

Many S had believed that P was released by C and [BELIEVED THAT P] was an imaginary substance . . . .

Did the scientists believe that phlogiston was an imaginary substance?

On the one hand, if scientists believed that combustion was actually releasing phlogiston,
then they did not believe that phlogiston was "an imaginary substance."

On the other hand, if scientists believed that phlogiston WAS an imaginary substance,
then those scientists did not believe that combustion produced phlogiston.
(How does a real phenomenon produce an imaginary something?)

Option E, in other words, is logically inconsistent. Eliminate it.
The correct answer is A.
Hope that helps.
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Re: Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century  [#permalink]

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26 Mar 2019, 21:30
The sentence written is grammatically correct.

Option A : The use of Past Perfect Tense (Had + Verb) is correct since it's the earlier of the two past events
Event 1. Scientists "had believed" that combustion released phlogiston (Past Perfect)
Later of the two event: It was "proved" , written in Simple Past.

Furthermore, phlogiston, is correctly modified by : - "an imaginary substance whose properties were not fully understood".
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Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century  [#permalink]

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05 Sep 2019, 11:02
I am a little confused, what "Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century" should modify to? Shouldn't it modify the phlogiston rather than many scientists? Not sure on the modification part of this sentence. However, the options with phlogiston are incorrect due to several other reasons, but is the placement of the first sentence modifying scientist correct?
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Re: Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century  [#permalink]

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05 Sep 2019, 11:36
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porwal

Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century --This is not a modifier. This is a dependent clause followed by the main clause after the comma. The whole structure is a complex sentence. The modifier part comes at the end of the main clause, wherein phlogiston is described by the appositive modifier "an imaginary substance". Hope things are clear.

In addition, by bringing the phlogiston to the fore as the subject of the main clause, we have to go through a passive voice structure as done in C and D. Would it be so preferable?
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Re: Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century   [#permalink] 05 Sep 2019, 11:36
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# Until Antoine Lavoisier proved otherwise in the eighteenth century

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