Last visit was: 20 Jul 2024, 00:25 It is currently 20 Jul 2024, 00:25
Toolkit
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
Not interested in getting valuable practice questions and articles delivered to your email? No problem, unsubscribe here.

# When we look at the star Alpha Centauri, we see it as it was a little

SORT BY:
Tags:
Show Tags
Hide Tags
Senior SC Moderator
Joined: 22 May 2016
Posts: 5327
Own Kudos [?]: 35764 [23]
Given Kudos: 9464
Senior SC Moderator
Joined: 22 May 2016
Posts: 5327
Own Kudos [?]: 35764 [12]
Given Kudos: 9464
General Discussion
Current Student
Joined: 26 May 2019
Posts: 730
Own Kudos [?]: 267 [3]
Given Kudos: 84
Location: India
GMAT 1: 650 Q46 V34
GMAT 2: 720 Q49 V40
GPA: 2.58
WE:Consulting (Consulting)
BSchool Moderator
Joined: 24 May 2019
Status:Civil Enginner
Posts: 315
Own Kudos [?]: 346 [1]
Given Kudos: 482
Location: Turkey
GMAT 1: 710 Q49 V37
GPA: 3.65
WE:Engineering (Other)
Re: When we look at the star Alpha Centauri, we see it as it was a little [#permalink]
1
Kudos
When we look at the star Alpha Centauri, we see it as it was a little over four years ago, for it took the light that long to get here.

A) we see it as it was a little over four years ago // "as" is confusing. Does it mean because or when?

B) we see it as it had been a little over four years ago // "as" is confusing. Does it mean because or when? The past perfect tense is unwarranted.

C) we see it as if it was a little over four years ago // correct

D) it appears to us as it did in a little over four years ago // "as" is confusing. Does it mean because or when? "in" is wrong.

E) it appears to us as though a little over four years ago // ambiguous.

Posted from my mobile device
Manager
Joined: 02 Mar 2020
Posts: 84
Own Kudos [?]: 20 [1]
Given Kudos: 24
Re: When we look at the star Alpha Centauri, we see it as it was a little [#permalink]
1
Kudos
Slightly confused but the last 3 (C,D,E) get eliminated basis the meaning itself. A & B are our top contenders.

A) we see it as it was a little over four years ago - It looks fine, let's keep for now.

B) we see it as it had been a little over four years ago - We see it as it "had been" and also implies that since then moon has changed position or characteristic, although wordy, I pick B.

C) we see it as if it was a little over four years ago - Meaning error

D) it appears to us as it did in a little over four years ago - Meaning error

E) it appears to us as though a little over four years ago - Meaning error
VP
Joined: 10 Jul 2019
Posts: 1385
Own Kudos [?]: 577 [1]
Given Kudos: 1656
Re: When we look at the star Alpha Centauri, we see it as it was a little [#permalink]
Comes down to A and B (others eliminated because of meaning issues and poor grammar).

A is correct because there does not appear to be a need to use the “past perfect progressive.”

Will post full answer explanation in morning.

Posted from my mobile device
VP
Joined: 10 Jul 2019
Posts: 1385
Own Kudos [?]: 577 [1]
Given Kudos: 1656
When we look at the star Alpha Centauri, we see it as it was a little [#permalink]
1
Kudos
This problem comes down to following the author’s meaning and watching out for any meaning changes made by the answer choices.

The intended meaning by the author is that when we look at the star now, we are actually looking at the image that appeared 4 years ago. This is because light takes a long time to travel to this far away star.

-C-

“..... we see it as IF it was a little over four years ago...”

This answer choice changes the meaning of the sentence. The meaning in C suggests that we are no longer looking at the star’s image that appeared 4 years ago. We are looking at this star AS IF IT WERE 4 years ago for us.

Perhaps the conditions for us now are the same as they were 4 years ago. Therefore, when we look at the star now, it is AS IF WE were looking at it 4 year ago.

Answer C changes the original meaning. Also, the hypothetical subjunctive following “if” is used incorrectly. For the verb “to be”, the hypothetical subjunctive in such a case takes the form “were.”

“If I WERE king, I would over-tax everyone!”

C is wrong.

-D-

“When we look at the star, it appears to us as it did a little over 4 years ago...”

This answer choice also changes the original meaning of the sentence.

Under one interpretation, the author could be seen as conveying that the star looks the same now as it did when WE LOOKED at it a little over 4 years ago.

We look at the star now. We looked at the star 4 years ago. The star looks the same to us now as it did when we gazed at it 4 years ago.

This is not the intent of the author. He or she is trying to convey the effect the travel of light has on the image we see now. When we look at the star NOW, we actually see the image that appeared 4 years ago.

For this reason D is wrong.

-E-

“When we look at the star, it appears to us AS THOUGH a little over 4 years ago for (because) it took the light that long to get there.”

When we use the phrase “as though” to talk about an event or occurrence, we are speaking in hypothetical terms. We use this phrase when something appears to be the case, but it actually is NOT true.

“Scott spends money AS THOUGH he were a billionaire.”

Again, the use of “as though” in this sentence changes the meaning. The author is not trying to say the star appears to us as though it were 4 years ago. The author is not describing a situation “as it seemed to be” 4 years ago. Instead, the image of the star we see now is the star’s ACTUAL image from 4 years ago.

The image we see today is the ACTUAL image the star portrayed 4 years ago because light takes that long to reach the far-away star.

E is wrong.

-A vs B-

Between A and B, generally if there is not a specific reason to use the past perfect, it is best avoided. This is not a situation where 1 event happened in the past and we need to use the past perfect progressive to accurately convey the order of past events.

We look at this star now and the image we see is the image that actually existed 4 years ago.

There is no reason to change the original sentence.

-A-
Posted from my mobile device
Director
Joined: 03 Mar 2017
Posts: 583
Own Kudos [?]: 420 [0]
Given Kudos: 596
Location: India
Concentration: Operations, Technology
Re: When we look at the star Alpha Centauri, we see it as it was a little [#permalink]
Can someone help on the meaning conveyed by the sentence?? AndrewN Can you help here.. totally smacked me out of the park
SC Moderator
Joined: 25 Sep 2018
Posts: 1100
Own Kudos [?]: 2244 [1]
Given Kudos: 1665
Location: United States (CA)
Concentration: Finance, Strategy
GPA: 3.97
WE:Investment Banking (Investment Banking)
Re: When we look at the star Alpha Centauri, we see it as it was a little [#permalink]
1
Kudos
warrior1991 wrote:
Can someone help on the meaning conveyed by the sentence?? AndrewN Can you help here.. totally smacked me out of the park

'For it took the light that long' means The light traveling Alpha Centauri to Earth took about four years to get here. That’s 4 light-years, so we see Alpha Centauri as it was 4 years ago.

I hope it's clear.
Senior SC Moderator
Joined: 22 May 2016
Posts: 5327
Own Kudos [?]: 35764 [0]
Given Kudos: 9464
Re: When we look at the star Alpha Centauri, we see it as it was a little [#permalink]
The official explanation is here.
Volunteer Expert
Joined: 16 May 2019
Posts: 3507
Own Kudos [?]: 6981 [0]
Given Kudos: 500
Re: When we look at the star Alpha Centauri, we see it as it was a little [#permalink]
warrior1991 wrote:
Can someone help on the meaning conveyed by the sentence?? AndrewN Can you help here.. totally smacked me out of the park

It looks as though I am a little late to the party, warrior1991, but I will add my breakdown of the sentence anyway.

generis wrote:
When we look at the star Alpha Centauri, we see it as it was a little over four years ago, for it took the light that long to get here.

There are three main components to the sentence at hand:

1) An introductory (dependent) clause—When we look at the star Alpha Centauri. Since the word star is mentioned, we do not have to know anything about astronomy to qualify what we are looking at. Notice, too, the use of the present tense, look. This can help inform our decision about verb tense in part 2) below.

2) A main (independent) clause—we see it as it was a little over four years ago. It has a clear referent in the star Alpha Centauri, so each use of the pronoun is qualified. Since the earlier, dependent clause used the present tense, the simple past tense was works fine here.

3) A second independent clause, introduced by a conjunction—for it took the light that long to get here. The conjunction for serves in an explanatory because/since capacity. For example, you could say, He ought to do well on the exam, for he studied three hours a day. This is the opposite of the role that the conjunction so plays, which indicates that a conclusion is about to follow instead. Using our sentence from before, He studied three hours a day, so he ought to do well on the exam. The next part of the independent clause in the original sentence that warrants a closer look is it. Here, it is simply a placeholder—i.e. it does not refer to the star. We understand that the star did not travel, but that light from the star traversed space to reach our eyes on Earth (here). In astronomy/physics terms, we can appreciate that Alpha Centauri is four lightyears away.

As difficult as it may seem, this is a simple sentence (well, grammatically compound-complex) that indicates that light from a nearby star took four years to reach our stargazing eyes here on planet Earth.

- Andrew
VP
Joined: 10 Jul 2019
Posts: 1385
Own Kudos [?]: 577 [0]
Given Kudos: 1656
Re: When we look at the star Alpha Centauri, we see it as it was a little [#permalink]
Great question. I learned a lot from a minimal collection of words.

I would love to see more questions in which the meaning provided by the answer choice sentences differs from the meaning intended by the author (of course, only if you have time).

I always find these types of questions challenging.

Thank you for that thorough explanation. I copied quite a bit into my notebook.

Posted from my mobile device
Non-Human User
Joined: 01 Oct 2013
Posts: 17522
Own Kudos [?]: 869 [0]
Given Kudos: 0
Re: When we look at the star Alpha Centauri, we see it as it was a little [#permalink]
Hello from the GMAT Club VerbalBot!

Thanks to another GMAT Club member, I have just discovered this valuable topic, yet it had no discussion for over a year. I am now bumping it up - doing my job. I think you may find it valuable (esp those replies with Kudos).

Want to see all other topics I dig out? Follow me (click follow button on profile). You will receive a summary of all topics I bump in your profile area as well as via email.
Re: When we look at the star Alpha Centauri, we see it as it was a little [#permalink]
Moderators:
GMAT Club Verbal Expert
6984 posts
GMAT Club Verbal Expert
236 posts