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# Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers

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Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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06 Jan 2012, 09:46
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Hi,
Following is the excerpt of the question I replied to on ‘beat the gmat’.
Quote:
Would like to understand minutes difference between these two types of modifiers . Please correct me if my understanding is not right -
Clause + Comma + Past Participle
Technically Work as Adverb BUT also modifies the subject of the Clause

Q1 - Is it always necessary that Past Participle + Comma need to act as Adverb, Can’t it simply modify the subject ONLY of the main clause - look at below construction -
“Diabetes ranks as the nation’s third leading cause of the death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer”

Q2 - This is valid construction as per OG, not sure why "surpassed" came after comma . It is modifying Diabetes so it should come in beginning ??
“Surpassed only by disease and cancer, Diabetes ranks as the nation’s third leading cause of the death”

Q3 - Can we say that past participle + comma does not need to act as Adverb or modify whole previous clause ALWAYS and it can modify ONLY subject as well ? Is it true for present participle ?

Q4 - What is the difference between present & past participle when these work as modifiers ? Please explain the difference between two sentences -
“Diabetes ranks as the nation’s third leading cause of the death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer”
“Diabetes ranks as the nation’s third leading cause of the death, surpassing only by heart disease and cancer”

This is my response to the question. I hope you will find the content useful.

We at e-gmat call the present participle the “verb-ing modifiers” and the past participle the “verb-ed modifiers”. So here are the rules for these two types of modifiers:

1: COMMA + verb-ing modifier---> modifies the preceding clause.
Example: The engineer identified the problem, using the latest technology. (as you cited)

2: Verb-ing modifier ONLY ------> modifies the preceding NOUN or NOUN PHRASE only.
Example: John sat in the minivan carrying seven passengers. (“carrying seven passengers” modifies “minivans” and means that the minivan in which John sat had seven passengers)

2 also applies to verb-ed modifiers.

Discouraged by the long hours and low pay, my sister finally quit her job. Correct.

My sister, discouraged by the long hours and low pay, finally quit her job. Correct.

My sister finally quit her job, discouraged by the long hours and low pay. Incorrect as per GMAT rules (Refer to Regular English Vs GMAT section below). Here the verb-ed modifier is modifying the preceding noun “her job” which does not make sense.

RULES PART I: So really speaking these are the rules governing verb-ing & verb-ed modifiers:
Verb-ing modifiers
1: When separated by comma modifies the preceding clause
2: When not separated by comma modifiers the preceding noun or noun phrase

Verb-ed Modifiers
1: Always modify preceding noun or noun phrase.

We have covered this concept in detail in our concept titled "Modifiers - Verb-ing Modifiers". This concept is available in the free preview of the e-GMAT SC course. I suggest you review this concept in the free trial. You will be able to apply the concepts when you take the post assessment quiz in this file. After that definitely review a few OG sentence constructions to understand and apply these concepts on the Official Questions.

REGULAR ENGLISH Vs. GMAT: The point to be noted here is that in regular English, comma + verb-ed modifiers modify the preceding clause. They behave in similar manner as do comma + verb-ing modifiers. However, GMAT goes against this practice as is evident from OG12#56.
Since Official Guides set up the rules here, we incorporate these rules in our course curriculum and questions. If down the line, OG modifies this question and changes the explanation, reflecting that comma + verb-ed modifiers modify preceding clause, then we will change our curriculum and questions based on this rule accordingly.
Here are a few examples from OG12 for verb-ed modifiers:
Verb-ed modifier modifying preceding noun = OG12#28, OG12#56.

In the light of this understanding, let us now analyze OG12#5

Diabetes ranks as the nation’s third leading cause of death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer.

In this sentence, it will not make sense for verb-ed modifier to modify the preceding noun “death”. Death cannot be surpassed by anything. Hence, the verb-ed modifier is modifying noun phrase “the nation’s third leading cause of death”. Now the reference makes sense and the modifier establishes the fact this particular cause of death is “surpassed only by heart disease and cancer”.
Notice that “diabetes” is the “the nation’s third leading cause of death”. The verb “ranks” stands as “is” meaning “diabetes” = “the nation’s third leading cause of death”. Hence it is logical for the verb-ed modifier to modify “diabetes” also because it is the “the nation’s third leading cause of death”. Structurally, the verb-ed modifier is modifying the preceding noun phrase “the nation’s third leading cause of death”.

RULES PART II: So far we discussed the role of the verb-ed and the verb-ing modifiers placed after the clause preceded or not by a comma. Now answer to your second question is that verb-ed modifier is a noun modifier. When placed in the beginning of the sentence followed by a comma, it always modifies the subject of the clause. Again let me cite your example only:
Discouraged by the long hours and low pay, my sister finally quit her job. (If you ask the modifier, who was discouraged, the answer will be “my sister”).
In case of the verb-ing modifiers, when places before the clause separated by a comma they can modify either the subject or the entire clause, depending upon the context of the sentence.

Example: Singing a beautiful song, Mary mesmerized everyone present in the room. (So how did Mary mesmerize everyone? By singing a beautiful song. Here the verb-ing modifier is modifying the entire clause.)
Wearing a blue short, Joe killed the snake. (Here the verb-ing modifier is just giving additional information about how Joe was dressed. His wearing a blue shirt has nothing to do with killing the snake.)

THE DIFFERENCE: Now let us analyze the difference between these two sentences:
Diabetes ranks as the nation’s third leading cause of the death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer.

Diabetes ranks as the nation’s third leading cause of the death, surpassing only by heart disease and cancer.
The first sentence is grammatically as well as logically correct. But the second is not grammatically correct. The first sentence can be rewritten as: Diabetes is the nation’s third leading cause of the death that is surpassed only by heart disease and cancer.
Notice that the “that” clause is written in passive voice because diabetes is not the doer of the action “surpass”. It is “heart disease and cancer” that are the doer of this action.
In the second sentence, “surpassing” modifies the preceding clause and hence associates with the subject diabetes. So if we say that Diabetes is X, surpassing only by Y and Z, it will be wrong because it is not the correct grammatical structure. Use of “by” is ungrammatical in this construction. If we remove “by” from here, then the intended meaning of the sentence will change. The sentence will then mean that Diabetes surpasses “heart diseases and cancer” but it is actually the other way round and that is why diabetes is “the nation’s third leading cause of death”.

1. When verb-ing modifier is separated from the clause using a comma, then this modifier modifies the preceding clause.
2. When verb-ing modifier is not separated from the clause using a comma, then it modifies the preceding noun.
3. When verb-ing modifier is placed in the beginning of the sentence followed by a comma, then it may modify either the subject of the clause or the entire clause, depending upon the context of the sentence.
4. Verb-ed modifier modifies the preceding noun or the noun phrase.
5. When verb-ed modifier is placed in the beginning of the clause followed by a comma, then it modifies the subject of the clause.

Hope this helps.
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Last edited by egmat on 22 Aug 2013, 12:14, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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17 Jan 2012, 07:52
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Hi,
I received a PM for this one.

@rajeevrks27: John sat in the minivan carrying seven passengers.
Per the rules of verb-ing modifier, “carrying” is clearly modifying “minivan” there is no comma between the two words. When there is no comma before the verb-ing then it modifies the preceding noun.
So in the above sentence too, “carrying” is referring to “minivans”. It is giving us more information about the minivan that John sat in that minivan that had seven passengers in it.
The sentence that you have provided is also correct. There again, “carrying” is not separated with comma. Hence without any ambiguity or confusion, “carrying” is modifying “minivan”, suggesting that the minivan in which John sat carried load. “carrying” in no way can refer to John if there is no comma between “carrying” and “minibus”.

@maheshrini: For the Stegosaurus, a dinosaur, the seventeen bony plates embedded in its back were necessary elements for survival, regulating its temperature throughout its bus-sized body and protecting it from much larger carnivores.

In this sentence, both the verb-ing modifiers “regulating” and “protecting” are modifying the preceding clause. They are giving information about how “the seventeen bony plates embedded in its back were necessary elements for survival” for the Stegosaurus.
One way to identify what the modifier is modifying is that ask a question. Whatever aspect the modifier is the reply to, that is the aspect it is modifying.
For example, in the above dinosaur sentence, ask how the seventeen bony plates embedded in its back were necessary elements for survival? Both the verb-ing modifiers answer this question. Hence, the modifiers are modifying the preceding clause. They are providing additional information as to how these bony plates were essential for survival for Stegosaurus.
Hope these explanations help.
Thanks.
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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16 Aug 2012, 12:15
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pratb wrote:
So why cant we assume that "discouraged" is modifying My sister
Is it that it has to modify either the preceding Noun or Noun phrase and sisnce it does not modify either correctly in this case, we consider it wrong?

Hi there,

Thanks for liking the article. I’m glad to know that it has been useful for you. Now let’s get to your question.

My sister finally quit her job, discouraged by the long hours and low pay.

Yes, you are correct in saying that the verb-ed modifier can modify either the immediate preceding noun or the immediate preceding noun phrase. A verb-ed modifier cannot jump over a verb to modify a noun in the subject place. The entity that a verb-ed modifier modifies has to precede it.

Also, if you read this sentence properly, it seems to suggest that “discouraged” is actually modifying the preceding clause. It is giving more information as to why “my sister” quit her job by stating the reason for it. Such modification in GMAT is not acceptable.

Hence the correct sentence is:

Discouraged by the long hours and low pay, my sister finally quit her job.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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14 Jan 2012, 07:03
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Thanx egmat (Shraddha) for the valuable clarification/explanation n kudo for the initiative.
I have a doubt
please refer para 2 (example) above.---
John sat in the minivan carrying seven passengers.
The sentence seems little ambiguous because it doesn't explicitly says the intended meaning.
the sentence will be more ambiguous if i word it little different as..
John sat in the minivan carrying a load.
isn't it that CARRYING A LOAD is referring to Joan.
so what i want to know is whether THAT is essential before CARRYING or the sentence is ok in it's original form.
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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19 May 2012, 14:22
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Hi @alexcey,
I am glad that you have reviewed one of our most popular concepts - Modifiers - Verb-ing.

And I truly appreciate your observation. You are correct that verb-ed modifier (like other noun modifiers) can modify a noun or a noun phrase. However, in the Modifiers-Verb-ING concept, we explicitly state that verb-ed modifiers modify nouns. This is because in this concept we explicitly show the difference between verb-ed and verb-ing modifiers with regards to showing the difference in terms of modified entity - a noun or a clause. Now definitely if we say that a modifier modifies a noun, then it surely can modify a noun phrase as well. In fact this concept is covered in the concept titled Modifiers - Relative Pronouns. This concept is in Level 2 of Sentence Correction. Likewise, if we say that a modifier can modify a clause, then it surely can modify the action or the verb as well.

Hope this helps. Once again, I appreciate your keen observation!

Thanks,

Payal
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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20 Aug 2012, 12:40
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Hi Nipun,

Digging in sediments in Northern china, evidence has been gathered by scientists suggesting that complex life -forms emerged much earlier than they had previously thought.

The sentence means that scientists dug in sediments in Northern China and gathered evidence that suggests that complex life forms emerged much earlier than previously thought.

Error Analysis:
1. Verb-ing modifier “digging” is illogically modifying “evidence”. This modification suggests that “evidence” did the action of “digging”. The subject of the main clause should be “scientists” because they did this action.
2. Again, verb-ing “suggesting iis incorrectly modifying the preceding noun “scientists”, suggesting that “scientists” suggested something. It is the “evidence” that did the action of suggesting.

POE:
A) evidence has been gathered by scientists suggesting that complex life –forms emerged much earlier than they had: Incorrect for the reasons stated above.
B) evidence gathered by scientists suggests a much earlier emergence of complex life-forms that had been: Incorrect.
1. This choice repeats the same modification error of choice A.
2. The phrase “a much earlier emergence of complex life-forms” is not very clear and direct.

C) scientists have gathered evidence suggesting that complex life forms emerged much earlier than: Correct.

D) scientists have gathered evidence that suggests a much earlier emergence of complex life-forms than that which was: Incorrect.
1. The phrase “a much earlier emergence of complex life-forms” is not very clear and direct.
2. “that” stands for “a much earlier emergence of complex life-forms”. This makes the comparison illogical.
3. There is no need of this illogical comparison presented by “that”.

E) Scientists have gathered evidence that suggests a much earlier emergence of complex life-forms than that: Incorrect. This choice repeats the errors of choice D.

The answer to your second question is yes. Gerunds can be used in the beginning of the sentence. Take these sentences for example:
1. Drinking green tea is better than drinking coffee.
2. Swimming is my favorite sport.
3. Growing flowering plants is Harry’s hobby.

Notice that in all the above sentences, gerunds are the subject. But, when we have verb-ing modifiers in the beginning of the sentence, they are followed by a main clause.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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Last edited by egmat on 16 May 2014, 14:39, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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11 Sep 2012, 11:49
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catfreak wrote:
By the time philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein met Bertrand Russell in 1912, afflicted by what seems to have been an inherited propensity towards emotional instability and having been shaken greatly by the loss of two brothers, the former would be living with depression for almost a decade.

afflicted by what seems to have been an inherited propensity towards emotional instability and having been shaken greatly by the loss of two brothers, the former would be living with depression for almost a decade.

the former would have been living with depression for almost a decade, having been afflicted by what seems to have been an inherited propensity to emotional instability and having been shaken by the loss of two of his brothers

the former had lived with depression for almost a decade, had been afflicted by what seems to have been an inherited propensity to emotional instability and had been greatly shaken with the loss of two of his brothers

the former had lived with depression for almost a decade, afflicted by what seems to have been an inherited propensity towards emotional instability and greatly shaken by the loss of two of his brothers

the former, afflicted by what seems to have been an inherited propensity towards emotional instability, greatly shaken by the loss of two of his brothers, lived with depression for almost a decade

[Reveal] Spoiler:
OA - D

As per the article above, comma + verb+ed should modify the preceding noun/noun phrase. Here, in the correct option, it is not so. Shraddha, can you please help me with it.
Thanks!

What is the source of this question? Reason I ask is simple - the correct choice employs the construction in which verb-ed modifier modifies the preceding clause. As we noted in the article above, official questions do not seem to recognize this role of verb-ed modifier. So there is a clear disconnect. So I look forward to your response on the source of this question. If it not an official question, then I suggest you do not worry about it. If it is indeed an official question, then its a whole different thing - where in I will need to worry about changing our course work to reflect the change in position.
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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16 May 2014, 14:22
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hhakud wrote:
For the Stegosauraus, a dinosaur, the seventeen bony plates embedded in its back were necessary elements for survival, regulating its temperature throughout its bus-sized body and protecting it from much larger carnivores.

Can we change or rewrite the above sentence in the below way? Pls explain and correct me if I am wrong. Also explain what is the difference between these two sentences. And If the answer choices contain both of these options which one we need to choose..?

For the Stegosauraus, a dinosaur, the seventeen bony plates embedded in its back were necessary elements for survival, to regulate its temperature throughout its bus-sized body and to protect it from much larger carnivores

Hi hhakud,

Sorry for getting back to the thread so late.

Well, if you remove the comma before "to regulate", there will absolutely be no problem with the sentence at all.

But yes, there is a difference in the meaning of both the sentence.

Use of "comma + regulating and protecting" presents the HOW aspect of the preceding action. They provide additional information as to how the bony plates were necessary elements for survival.

Use of "to regulate and protect" presents the purpose or the reason why the bony plates were necessary for survival.

Now, if you get both the answer choices in the same question, then take a hint from the original sentence. If the original sentence uses comma + verb-ing then go by the choice with that modifier. If the original sentence has "to verb", then make the choice accordingly.

Original sentence presents ample of basis to understand the intended meaning of the sentence whether it wants to convey how the action is done or it wants to talk about the purpose.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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16 Jan 2012, 18:32
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Can you please clarify my question on the below sentence. What does the protecting and regulating modify?.

For the Stegosauraus, a dinosaur, the seventeen bony plates embedded in its back were necessary elements for survival, regulating its temperature throughout its bus-sized body and protecting it from much larger carnivores.
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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19 May 2012, 13:33
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Quote:
2: Verb-ing modifier ONLY ------> modifies the preceding NOUN or NOUN PHRASE only.
2 also applies to verb-ed modifiers.

Shraddha, I would like to note that for verb-ing and verb-ed modifiers the e-gmat course mentions only nouns but not noun phrases, a pretty significant omission. (see Modifiers_Verb_Ing)
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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20 Aug 2012, 08:55
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Thanks for the praise. We are almost at the end of our cycle on modifiers. Below is one such article that you may find useful.

ed-forms-verbs-or-modifiers-134691.html?fl=similar
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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30 Dec 2012, 21:02
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alexcey wrote:
egmat wrote:
1. When verb-ing modifier is separated from the clause using a comma, then this modifier modifies the preceding clause.

I have a question about exception to the rule above. I ran into this GmatPrep answer choice yesterday:

10. The yield per acre of coffee berries varies enormously in that a single tree, depending on both its size and on climate and altitude, could produce enough berries to make between one and twelve pounds of dried beans a year.
A. enormously in that a single tree, depending on both its size and on climate and altitude, could produce
B. enormously in that a single tree, dependent on its size and also on climate and altitude, is able to produce
C. enormously, because a single tree, depending on its size and on climate and altitude, is able to produce
D. enormously, because a single tree, being dependent on its size, climate, and altitude, is capable of producing
E. enormously, because a single tree, dependent both on its size as well as on climate and altitude, could produce

"The yield per acre of coffee berries varies enormously, because a single tree, depending on its size and on climate and altitude, is able to produce enough berries to make between one and twelve pounds of dried beans a year."

My understanding is that "depending on its size and on climate and altitude" modifies the following "is able to produce" and not the preceding clause or noun. When working on this problem, I decided that "depending on" modifies the preceding "single tree" according to Gmat rules, the conclusion that seems to be totally wrong.

Hi,
I think e-GMAT team is on leave till Jan-01 as per the mail from Rajat, the e-GMAT CEO .So, you can expect a reply from them on Jan-02 or after that..However if it comes prior to that day then it's a bonus for us.. I also have few queries posted in different e-GMAT threads in the forum and awaiting their reply eagerly.

Now let's come to your qs.
I'm not an expert, but from my understanding the meaning of the sentence is as follows:
Coffee production varies.The reason is that a single tree produces different quantity of coffee berries.Now why or how it does that? Well that is driven by some internal and external factors like tree size and the climate of the area where the tree goes.
So, in conclusion,the tree is dependent on the above factors in order to produce the varying quantity of coffee berries...

Now, let's wait for the e-GMAT's reply...

Happy New Year...
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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22 Aug 2013, 08:31
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blueseas wrote:

just a request to have your detailed analysis for below question.

Since the 1930’s aircraft manufacturers have tried to build airplanes with frictionless wings, shaped so smoothly and perfectly that the air passing over them would not become turbulent.
(A) wings, shaped so smoothly and perfectly
(B) wings, wings so smooth and so perfectly shaped
(C) wings that are shaped so smooth and perfect
(D) wings, shaped in such a smooth and perfect manner
(E) wings, wings having been shaped smoothly and perfectly so

since-the-1930-s-aircraft-manufacturers-have-tried-to-build-134320.html#p1095187

regards

Hi blueseas,

Since the 1930’s aircraft manufacturers have tried to build airplanes with frictionless wings, shaped so smoothly and perfectly that the air passing over them would not become turbulent.

Since the meaning of this sentence is pretty simple to understand, let’s move to the Error Analysis.

Error Analysis:

The verb-ed modifier “shaped” modifies the immediate preceding noun entity “”frictionless wings”. Well, this sentence does not seem to have any error. So we will hold on to this one till we get a better choice.

PoE

(A) wings, shaped so smoothly and perfectly: On hold.

(B) wings, wings so smooth and so perfectly shaped: Correct. This answer choice is certainly better than Choice A because it uses the noun + noun modifier to explicitly mention that wings were shaped so smoothly and perfectly that the air over “them = wings” would not become turbulent. The reference of pronoun “them” in this answer choice has been clarified further. There is no ambiguity about the reference of this pronoun.

(C) wings that are shaped so smooth and perfect: Incorrect. Usage of “perfect” is not correct.

(D) wings, shaped in such a smooth and perfect manner: Incorrect. Adjectives “smooth” and “perfect” now modify the “manner” in which the “wings” were made and not the “wings”.

(E) wings, wings having been shaped smoothly and perfectly so: Incorrect. Use of “having been…” makes the choice wordy.

P.S: This does not seem to be an official question, is it?

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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17 Jan 2012, 09:01
Thanx egmat (Shraddha) for the valuable clarification and ofcourse kudo also
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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20 May 2012, 05:59
egmat wrote:
Hi,
Following is the excerpt of the question I replied to on ‘beat the gmat’.
Quote:
Would like to understand minutes difference between these two types of modifiers . Please correct me if my understanding is not right -
Clause + Comma + Past Participle
Technically Work as Adverb BUT also modifies the subject of the Clause

Q1 - Is it always necessary that Past Participle + Comma need to act as Adverb, Can’t it simply modify the subject ONLY of the main clause - look at below construction -
“Diabetes ranks as the nation’s third leading cause of the death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer”

Q2 - This is valid construction as per OG, not sure why "surpassed" came after comma . It is modifying Diabetes so it should come in beginning ??
“Surpassed only by disease and cancer, Diabetes ranks as the nation’s third leading cause of the death”

Q3 - Can we say that past participle + comma does not need to act as Adverb or modify whole previous clause ALWAYS and it can modify ONLY subject as well ? Is it true for present participle ?

Q4 - What is the difference between present & past participle when these work as modifiers ? Please explain the difference between two sentences -
“Diabetes ranks as the nation’s third leading cause of the death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer”
“Diabetes ranks as the nation’s third leading cause of the death, surpassing only by heart disease and cancer”

This is my response to the question. I hope you will find the content useful.

We at e-gmat call the present participle the “verb-ing modifiers” and the past participle the “verb-ed modifiers”. So here are the rules for these two types of modifiers:
1: COMMA + verb-ing modifier---> modifies the preceding clause.
Example: The engineer identified the problem, using the latest technology. (as you cited)

2: Verb-ing modifier ONLY ------> modifies the preceding NOUN or NOUN PHRASE only.
Example: John sat in the minivan carrying seven passengers. (“carrying seven passengers” modifies “minivans” and means that the minivan in which John sat had seven passengers)

2 also applies to verb-ed modifiers.

Discouraged by the long hours and low pay, my sister finally quit her job. Correct.

My sister, discouraged by the long hours and low pay, finally quit her job. Correct.

My sister finally quit her job, discouraged by the long hours and low pay. Incorrect as per GMAT rules (Refer to Regular English Vs GMAT section below). Here the verb-ed modifier is modifying the preceding noun “her job” which does not make sense.

RULES PART I: So really speaking these are the rules governing verb-ing & verb-ed modifiers:
Verb-ing modifiers
1: When separated by comma modifies the preceding clause
2: When not separated by comma modifiers the preceding noun or noun phrase

Verb-ed Modifiers
1: Always modify preceding noun or noun phrase.

We have covered this concept in detail in our concept titled "Modifiers - Verb-ing Modifiers". This concept is available in the free preview of the e-GMAT SC course. I suggest you review this concept in the free trial. You will be able to apply the concepts when you take the post assessment quiz in this file. After that definitely review a few OG sentence constructions to understand and apply these concepts on the Official Questions.

REGULAR ENGLISH Vs. GMAT: The point to be noted here is that in regular English, comma + verb-ed modifiers modify the preceding clause. They behave in similar manner as do comma + verb-ing modifiers. However, GMAT goes against this practice as is evident from OG12#56.
Since Official Guides set up the rules here, we incorporate these rules in our course curriculum and questions. If down the line, OG modifies this question and changes the explanation, reflecting that comma + verb-ed modifiers modify preceding clause, then we will change our curriculum and questions based on this rule accordingly.
Here are a few examples from OG12 for verb-ed modifiers:
Verb-ed modifier modifying preceding noun = OG12#28, OG12#56.

In the light of this understanding, let us now analyze OG12#5

Diabetes ranks as the nation’s third leading cause of death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer.

In this sentence, it will not make sense for verb-ed modifier to modify the preceding noun “death”. Death cannot be surpassed by anything. Hence, the verb-ed modifier is modifying noun phrase “the nation’s third leading cause of death”. Now the reference makes sense and the modifier establishes the fact this particular cause of death is “surpassed only by heart disease and cancer”.
Notice that “diabetes” is the “the nation’s third leading cause of death”. The verb “ranks” stands as “is” meaning “diabetes” = “the nation’s third leading cause of death”. Hence it is logical for the verb-ed modifier to modify “diabetes” also because it is the “the nation’s third leading cause of death”. Structurally, the verb-ed modifier is modifying the preceding noun phrase “the nation’s third leading cause of death”.

RULES PART II: So far we discussed the role of the verb-ed and the verb-ing modifiers placed after the clause preceded or not by a comma. Now answer to your second question is that verb-ed modifier is a noun modifier. When placed in the beginning of the sentence followed by a comma, it always modifies the subject of the clause. Again let me cite your example only:
Discouraged by the long hours and low pay, my sister finally quit her job. (If you ask the modifier, who was discouraged, the answer will be “my sister”).
In case of the verb-ing modifiers, when places before the clause separated by a comma they can modify either the subject or the entire clause, depending upon the context of the sentence.

Example: Singing a beautiful song, Mary mesmerized everyone present in the room. (So how did Mary mesmerize everyone? By singing a beautiful song. Here the verb-ing modifier is modifying the entire clause.)
Wearing a blue short, Joe killed the snake. (Here the verb-ing modifier is just giving additional information about how Joe was dressed. His wearing a blue shirt has nothing to do with killing the snake.)

THE DIFFERENCE: Now let us analyze the difference between these two sentences:
Diabetes ranks as the nation’s third leading cause of the death, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer.

Diabetes ranks as the nation’s third leading cause of the death, surpassing only by heart disease and cancer.
The first sentence is grammatically as well as logically correct. But the second is not grammatically correct. The first sentence can be rewritten as: Diabetes is the nation’s third leading cause of the death that is surpassed only by heart disease and cancer.
Notice that the “that” clause is written in passive voice because diabetes is not the doer of the action “surpass”. It is “heart disease and cancer” that are the doer of this action.
In the second sentence, “surpassing” modifies the preceding clause and hence associates with the subject diabetes. So if we say that Diabetes is X, surpassing only by Y and Z, it will be wrong because it is not the correct grammatical structure. Use of “by” is ungrammatical in this construction. If we remove “by” from here, then the intended meaning of the sentence will change. The sentence will then mean that Diabetes surpasses “heart diseases and cancer” but it is actually the other way round and that is why diabetes is “the nation’s third leading cause of death”.

1. When verb-ing modifier is separated from the clause using a comma, then this modifier modifies the preceding clause.
2. When verb-ing modifier is not separated from the clause using a comma, then it modifies the preceding noun.
3. When verb-ing modifier is placed in the beginning of the sentence followed by a comma, then it may modify either the subject of the clause or the entire clause, depending upon the context of the sentence.
4. Verb-ed modifier modifies the preceding noun or the noun phrase.
5. When verb-ed modifier is placed in the beginning of the clause followed by a comma, then it modifies the subject of the clause.

Hope this helps.

Great explanation. Kudos...

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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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30 Jun 2012, 20:41
Thorough and insightful post about modifiers by eGMAT. Kudos.

Cheers,
Der alte Fritz.
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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16 Aug 2012, 06:36
Thank you for the explanation. This has helped me a lot
So you said that Verb-ed modifiers always modify the preceding Noun or noun phrase, whichever is logical
Now in the sentence

My sister finally quit her job, discouraged by the long hours and low pay.

Logically the Job cannot be discouraged by long hrs and low pay and ther is not Noun phrase. So why cant we assume that "discouraged" is modifying My sister
Is it that it has to modify either the preceding Noun or Noun phrase and sisnce it does not modify either correctly in this case, we consider it wrong?

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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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18 Aug 2012, 11:48
Great Article. Really helped in clarifying a difficult concept of Verb-ing & Verb-ed.

Kindly continue sharing such articles along with intricacies involved in the concepts.

Kudos to u.
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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20 Aug 2012, 11:59
Please explain this OG13 question related to dangling modifiers

65. Digging in sediments in Northern china, evidence has been gathered by scientists suggesting that complex life -forms
emerged much earlier than they had
previously thought

A) Same
B) evidence gathered by scientists suggests a much earlier emergence of complex life-forms that had been
C) scientists have gathered evidence suggesting that complex life forms emerged much earlier than
D) Scientists have gathered evidence that suggests a much earlier emergence of complex life-forms than that which was
E) Scientists have gathered evidence that suggests a much earlier emergence of complex life-forms than that

Also Please let me know if we can use Gerund at the start of a sentence?
I am confused with usage of Present Participle & Gerund.
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Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers [#permalink]

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20 Aug 2012, 13:06
Thanks for the clarification.

Probably this should summarize the difference between Gerund & Verb+ing modifier

- Verb+ing modifier : modifies the subject in previous clause
- Gerund : In itself is the subject
Also the use of Possessive case in case of gerund seems helpful
e.g
We rejoiced at his being promoted
I insist on your being present.
..............................
Kudos to EGMAT

Regards
Nipun
Re: Verb-ed modifiers Vs. Verb-ing modifiers   [#permalink] 20 Aug 2012, 13:06

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