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# Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the

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Re: Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
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generis wrote:
Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be carrying bits of greenery to shade themselves from the tropical sun—hence the sobriquet “parasol ants.”

A) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be

B) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought they were

C) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, it seemed to some Europeans that the insects were

D) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought the insects were

E) On their first encounter with leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought it was because the insects were

SC03260.02

A) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be
Modifier is modifying some Europeans and not the insects
B) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought they were
Pronoun ambiguity
C) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, it seemed to some Europeans that the insects were
D) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought the insects were
E) On their first encounter with leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought it was because the insects were

IMO D
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Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
generis wrote:
Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be carrying bits of greenery to shade themselves from the tropical sun—hence the sobriquet “parasol ants.”

A) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be

B) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought they were

C) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, it seemed to some Europeans that the insects were

D) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought the insects were

E) On their first encounter with leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought it was because the insects were

SC03260.02

A)Modifier error: after comma Europeans(subject) should follow
B)Their...they.. pronoun referant error :both should refer to same Noun
C)Modifier error: after comma Europeans(subject) should follow

D) Best among all options. eliminating these errors.

E)it was because....what happened next as a result ? + (hence.. structure makes a logical mess ).

Thanks.
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Re: Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
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How safe it is to discard an option which has pronoun vs an option that has a noun it refers back to?
Quote:
Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be[/u] carrying bits of greenery to shade themselves from the tropical sun—hence the sobriquet “parasol ants.”

Meaning: When the Europeans first encountered leaf-cutting ants in South America, the ants seemed to carry bit of greenery
to protect themselves from sun. I don't know what sobriquet means , but in context I assumed it must be some name given to ants.
There is a clear modifier error that opening modifier is modifying. It should modify Europeans not ants.

Quote:
B) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought they were

I did honestly spent couple of mins to discard this option. The first their seems correct to refer to Europeans.
However, can they refer back to ants by jumping over phrase: some Europeans thought?
The reference Europeans do not make sense with they.

Quote:
D) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought the insects were

Here I am not even introducing any pronoun. Crisp and clear. Verb-ing modifier encountering correctly modifies: Europeans
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Re: Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
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How safe it is to discard an option which has pronoun vs an option that has a noun it refers back to?
Quote:
Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be[/u] carrying bits of greenery to shade themselves from the tropical sun—hence the sobriquet “parasol ants.”

Meaning: When the Europeans first encountered leaf-cutting ants in South America, the ants seemed to carry bit of greenery
to protect themselves from sun. I don't know what sobriquet means , but in context I assumed it must be some name given to ants.
There is a clear modifier error that opening modifier is modifying. It should modify Europeans not ants.

Quote:
B) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought they were

I did honestly spent couple of mins to discard this option. The first their seems correct to refer to Europeans.
However, can they refer back to ants by jumping over phrase: some Europeans thought?
The reference Europeans do not make sense with they.

Quote:
D) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought the insects were

Here I am not even introducing any pronoun. Crisp and clear. Verb-ing modifier encountering correctly modifies: Europeans

Hello, adkikani. We cross paths again. You are correct about the original sentence: the insects are not understood to have encountered leaf-cutting ants. This alone provides grounds for eliminating (A). In (B), we have talked about this before in our ongoing dialogue: do not be quick to add words when fewer would do. Ask yourself whether their is absolutely necessary to clarify the meaning of the sentence. It may not be that its usage is incorrect, but superfluous language is just that: unnecessary. The they in the main clause is more problematic, though. You could read it as Europeans, and that would create a rather silly sentence:

Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought Europeans were carrying bits of greenery to shade themselves from the tropical sun—hence the sobriquet “parasol ants.”

The sentence seems to convey that because Europeans, some of whom were thought to be shading themselves from the sun with greenery, happened to have seen leaf-cutting ants, the Europeans put the two independent events together and named the insects "parasol ants." It is a nonsensical reading, of course, but one that can be argued by way of the grammar.

So, in short, I would only eliminate an answer with obvious grammatical or semantic problems before I might choose between more nuanced choices.

Finally, on a related side note, you brought up the word sobriquet. This term is used in more educated circles--almost exclusively in writing--to mean nickname. I would have guessed its French origin, ultimately via Latin, but all I turned up in my etymological research is that it was used in French in the sense 'tap under the chin'. The first part of that makes sense to me: sous in French means under. But the briquet part has me baffled. The only association I have for the word is lighter, as in the item used to produce a flame. I guess of unknown origin is fitting from just about every dictionary I have consulted. Language is a strange organism, evolving in ways just as strange as the life forms themselves that produce it.

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Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
generis wrote:
Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be carrying bits of greenery to shade themselves from the tropical sun—hence the sobriquet “parasol ants.”

A) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be

B) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought they were

C) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, it seemed to some Europeans that the insects were

D) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought the insects were

E) On their first encounter with leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought it was because the insects were

SC03260.02

a review of doing as participle and as gerund is needed. the explanation of this grammar point available in a few but not all grammar books. to fully solve this problem, we have to understand this point of grammar.
gerund have some characteristics of noun and some characteristics of verbs\
participle have some characteristics of adjective and some characteristics of verb

doing can be a pure noun, which is diferent from gerund and partipant in that pure noun do not have any characteristics of verb while gerund and participle have some characteristics of verbs

gerund as participle can not go with possessive such as "their" . only pure noun and doing as pure noun can combine with their, his, its...
so, choice A and B are gone.

determiners such as "first' and adjective can not go with participle . they can go with only pure noun and doing as pure noun. so, "first" in choice C and D must work as adverb, modifying participle "cutting". in choice C, "cutting" refer to the subject "it". this reference is not logical. choice C is wrong.

Originally posted by thangvietnam on 04 Jul 2020, 20:48.
Last edited by thangvietnam on 19 Dec 2020, 08:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
Shouldn’t “that” be there after “some Europeans thought” in option D..i rejected this one because of this issue..pl clarify

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Re: Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
mrsyks wrote:
Shouldn’t “that” be there after “some Europeans thought” in option D..i rejected this one because of this issue..pl clarify

Posted from my mobile device

Might not be a great idea to eliminate an option based on this criterion.

Another correct official question, where announced is also not followed by that:

Trans world Entertainment Corporation, which owns the record Town and Saturday Matinee retail chains announced it was closing up to one fourth of its stores because of poor sales.
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Re: Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
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Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be carrying bits of greenery to shade themselves from the tropical sun—hence the sobriquet “parasol ants.”

A) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be

B) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought they were

C) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, it seemed to some Europeans that the insects were

D) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought the insects were

E) On their first encounter with leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought it was because the insects were

In A, "Upon their first encountering...." modifies "the insects"......"the insects" cannot "encounter leaf cutting ants".......Modifier error....Eliminate
In C and E, pronoun "it" does not have any antecedent.....Eliminate C and E
In B, "Upon their first encountering....."......"their" makes this option wordier than option D......Based on wordiness, we can eliminate B

Hence, D is the correct answer.
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Re: Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
Hi GMATNinja,

Just watched your video on punctuations on the gmat. Thank you for that video. It was helpful.
I just wanted to confirm my understanding for this question concerning the dash part. The dash seems to be adding information indicating how the nickname 'parasol ants' came about.
A,B and C have clear errors related to pronouns and modifiers. I picked D over E. However, E seemed fine to me other than "it was because" which introduced a placeholder 'it' that seemed unnecessary. Seemed like this phrase was put in to create a sort of cause and effect with the part after the dash.
Could you please share your thoughts on the use of the dash pertaining to the meaning of the sentence specifically for options D and E?

Thanks and Regards,
Udit
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Re: Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
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uc26 wrote:
Hi GMATNinja,

Just watched your video on punctuations on the gmat. Thank you for that video. It was helpful.
I just wanted to confirm my understanding for this question concerning the dash part. The dash seems to be adding information indicating how the nickname 'parasol ants' came about.
A,B and C have clear errors related to pronouns and modifiers. I picked D over E. However, E seemed fine to me other than "it was because" which introduced a placeholder 'it' that seemed unnecessary. Seemed like this phrase was put in to create a sort of cause and effect with the part after the dash.
Could you please share your thoughts on the use of the dash pertaining to the meaning of the sentence specifically for options D and E?

Thanks and Regards,
Udit

Part of the problem with (E) is that the "hence" doesn't really make sense with the "because." Let's review a few examples to illustrate that point:

• "Because the ants were carrying bits of greenery, they were given the name 'parasol ants'." - No problem here (notice that there is no need to use "hence").
• "Because the ants were carrying bits of greenery--hence the name 'parasol ants'." - This one is wrong because we don't have a complete sentence (the part in bold is not a complete thought).
• "The ants were carrying bits of greenery--hence the name 'parasol ants'." - This is fine. In this example, "hence" basically means "because of the previous fact."

And here's the really fun one:

• "It was because the ants were carrying bits of greenery--hence the name 'parasol ants'."

In the last example, the name "parasol ants" proceeds from the fact that the ants were carrying bits of greenery. In this example, however, the name "parasol ants" seemingly proceeds from the fact that it was because the ants were carrying bits of greenery. But what does that part in bold actually mean on its own? It's not really a fact that something else (i.e. the name) can result from. The previous example makes more sense, and that's why (D) beats (E).

As described in this post, a placeholder (or non-referential) "it" can be used to describe a general state of affairs, but you won't see this very often on the GMAT. For example:

"It was because the ants were carrying bits of greenery that they were given the name 'parasol ants'."

This is essentially the same thing as the third example above, except we're using a placeholder "it" (again, notice that there's no need for the word "hence"). Is there anything inherently wrong with this? No, but I'd rather go with the example above that eliminates the unnecessary "it."

I hope that helps!
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Re: Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be carrying bits of greenery to shade themselves from the tropical sun—hence the sobriquet “parasol ants.”

A) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be (modifier error)

B) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought they were (they ambiguous)

C) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, it seemed to some Europeans that the insects were (modifier error)

D) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought the insects were (correct, some Europeans correctly modifies the subject encountering leaf-cutting ants)

E) On their first encounter with leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought it was because the insects were ( it was because is odd construction, what was because? it and was because is vague)
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Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
Hi MartyTargetTestPrep

My reason for elimination -

Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be carrying bits of greenery to shade themselves from the tropical sun—hence the sobriquet “parasol ants.”

A) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be
-> I think there is no modifier error here, since its a prepositional phrase modifying the clause that insects seemed to some Europeans to be something upon encountering . (I'll keep this option and note that the 'their' could refer to either insects or Europeans, and will see if i get a better option )

B) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought they were
-> This option would be ambiguous again because of 'they'

C) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, it seemed to some Europeans that the insects were
-> Not sure how to eliminate this option since 'it' can refer to the that clause.

D) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought the insects were
-> This is better and removes the pronoun issue in the original sentence altogether.

E) On their first encounter with leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought it was because the insects
-> Changes meaning ('because') [Eliminate it]

P.S - i don't think theres any modifier issue here though because its a 'upon' & 'on' are used as prepositional phrase here (so it doesn't have to modify the subject (noun), it can modify the verb too)
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Re: Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
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Taulark1 wrote:
Hi MartyTargetTestPrep

My reason for elimination -

Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be carrying bits of greenery to shade themselves from the tropical sun—hence the sobriquet “parasol ants.”

A) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be
-> I think there is no modifier error here, since its a prepositional phrase modifying the clause that insects seemed to some Europeans to be something upon encountering . (I'll keep this option and note that the 'their' could refer to either insects or Europeans, and will see if i get a better option )

B) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought they were
-> This option would be ambiguous again because of 'they'

C) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, it seemed to some Europeans that the insects were
-> Not sure how to eliminate this option since 'it' can refer to the that clause.

D) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought the insects were
-> This is better and removes the pronoun issue in the original sentence altogether.

E) On their first encounter with leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought it was because the insects
-> Changes meaning ('because') [Eliminate it]

P.S - i don't think theres any modifier issue here though because its a 'upon' & 'on' are used as prepositional phrase here (so it doesn't have to modify the subject (noun), it can modify the verb too)

Hi Taulark1.

You are correct. The opening phrases do not modify the subject. At the same time, you actually identified the key issue that you are missing when you said the following:

"its a prepositional phrase modifying the clause that insects seemed to some Europeans to be something upon encountering."

Notice what you said. "insects seemed ... to be something upon encountering (leaf-cutting ants)."

Do you see the issue now?

If the opening modifier is modifying the clause, then what is it modifying?

Once you understand that issue, you'll see why (C) is wrong is as well. "On first encountering ... it seemed"? Hmm.

Meanwhile, regarding (E), the issue is not that the meaning is changed. A change in meaning is never the issue. The problem with (E) is that there is no logical referent for "it."

Anyway, I think you can figure out what's going on now.
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Re: Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
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MartyTargetTestPrep wrote:
Taulark1 wrote:
Hi MartyTargetTestPrep

My reason for elimination -

Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be carrying bits of greenery to shade themselves from the tropical sun—hence the sobriquet “parasol ants.”

A) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, the insects seemed to some Europeans to be
-> I think there is no modifier error here, since its a prepositional phrase modifying the clause that insects seemed to some Europeans to be something upon encountering . (I'll keep this option and note that the 'their' could refer to either insects or Europeans, and will see if i get a better option )

B) Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought they were
-> This option would be ambiguous again because of 'they'

C) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, it seemed to some Europeans that the insects were
-> Not sure how to eliminate this option since 'it' can refer to the that clause.

D) On first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought the insects were
-> This is better and removes the pronoun issue in the original sentence altogether.

E) On their first encounter with leaf-cutting ants in South America, some Europeans thought it was because the insects
-> Changes meaning ('because') [Eliminate it]

P.S - i don't think theres any modifier issue here though because its a 'upon' & 'on' are used as prepositional phrase here (so it doesn't have to modify the subject (noun), it can modify the verb too)

Hi Taulark1.

You are correct. The opening phrases do not modify the subject. At the same time, you actually identified the key issue that you are missing when you said the following:

"its a prepositional phrase modifying the clause that insects seemed to some Europeans to be something upon encountering."

Notice what you said. "insects seemed ... to be something upon encountering (leaf-cutting ants)."

Do you see the issue now?

If the opening modifier is modifying the clause, then what is it modifying?

Once you understand that issue, you'll see why (C) is wrong is as well. "On first encountering ... it seemed"? Hmm.

Meanwhile, regarding (E), the issue is not that the meaning is changed. A change in meaning is never the issue. The problem with (E) is that there is no logical referent for "it."

Anyway, I think you can figure out what's going on now.

Okay what i make of it is that -> the clause is : subject (it -> referring to that clause) , verb -> seemed . The modifier doesn't make sense with the subject here ! (as in how can this fact (that clause referred by it) encounter ? :p).
Hence option D corrects this by switching subject to the Europeans ! aha got it .

Thanks a lot MartyTargetTestPrep !!
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Re: Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
Struggling to see how B is “pronoun ambiguity”

Their could not have logically referred to the ants?

They is clearly/logically referring to the Ants. It makes no sense to say that They could refer to the Europeans. It’s none sensical to say that the Europeans thought that “they” themselves were carrying bits of greenery…….

What am I missing here team?

Posted from my mobile device
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Re: Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
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HoustonRocks wrote:
Struggling to see how B is “pronoun ambiguity”

Their could not have logically referred to the ants?

They is clearly/logically referring to the Ants. It makes no sense to say that They could refer to the Europeans. It’s none sensical to say that the Europeans thought that “they” themselves were carrying bits of greenery…….

What am I missing here team?

Posted from my mobile device

It makes more sense for the same pronoun to refer to the same being and thats what makes this a bit of a no no.
Their refers to the Europeans,
but then we read and see oh wait , 'they' refers to ants ? why are we unnecessarily changing pronoun referants. Although its not a hard and fast rule , but when we have a better option why go for this one which can bring out some ambiguity.
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Re: Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
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HoustonRocks wrote:
Struggling to see how B is “pronoun ambiguity”

Their could not have logically referred to the ants?

They is clearly/logically referring to the Ants. It makes no sense to say that They could refer to the Europeans. It’s none sensical to say that the Europeans thought that “they” themselves were carrying bits of greenery…….

What am I missing here team?

Posted from my mobile device

Hello HoustonRocks,

We hope this finds you well.

To answer your query, the pronoun error in Option B is not one of ambiguity, but rather an error of multiple referents.

Option B uses "they" to refer to "ants" but also uses a derivative of this pronoun - "their" - to refer to "Europeans"; remember, within one sentence, a pronoun and its derivatives can only refer to one noun.

We hope this helps.
All the best!
Experts' Global Team
Re: Upon their first encountering leaf-cutting ants in South America the [#permalink]
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