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GMATPrep: Quasars are so distant that their

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GMATPrep: Quasars are so distant that their

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Quasars are so distant that their light has taken billions of years to reach the Earth; consequently, we see them as they were during the formation of the universe.

(A) we see them as they were during
(B) we see them as they had been during
(C) we see them as if during
(D) they appear to us as they did in
(E) they appear to us as though in

OA: A

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Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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NandishSS wrote:
Quasars are so distant that their light has taken billions of years to reach the Earth; consequently, we see them as they were during the formation of the universe.

(A) we see them as they were during
(B) we see them as they had been during
(C) we see them as if during
(D) they appear to us as they did in
(E) they appear to us as though in

OA: A
I am happy to help. This is an excellent question testing us on the concepts of Tenses, Comparisons, and Meaning. Furthermore, we should only confine ourselves to reading the portion after the semi-colon, since the portion before the semi-colon is in the non-underlined portion and since the semi-colon acts as a full-stop, we don't have to concern ourselves with reading nearly half the sentence. Remember, in SC, the main challenge is not to solve the question(s) correctly, but rather to solve them correctly in as short a period of time as possible, and preserve time for the CR and RC questions - this is especially true now that the new version of the test contains substantially fewer SC questions (around 8 or 9).

Coming to the question, we want to compare between how quasars appear to us now and how they were earlier (during the formation of the universe). Only option A does this comparison precisely - we see them (now) as they were (earlier). This is the correct answer.

Let us go through the remaining options:

(B) we see them as they had been during - usage of the past perfect "had been" is incorrect and unnecessary since there are no 2 actions in the past

(C) we see them as if during - this option illogically suggests that "quasars are during the formation of the universe", rendering a nonsensical construction (they are doing what exactly in the formation of the universe??)

(D) they appear to us as they did in - Although the comparison is parallel in this construction, it is illogical. "Did" acts as a helping verb for "did appear". The quasars didn't appear to us during the formation of the universe, since the universe was formed billions of years ago when we were not around. Eliminate

(E) they appear to us as though in - same as C; illogically suggests that "quasars are in the formation of the universe".

This leaves us with option A as the correct answer.

Please let me know if anything doesn't make sense.

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NandishSS wrote:
Quasars are so distant that their light has taken billions of years to reach the Earth; consequently, we see them as they were during the formation of the universe.

(A) we see them as they were during
(B) we see them as they had been during
(C) we see them as if during
(D) they appear to us as they did in
(E) they appear to us as though in
The past perfect (had + VERBed) serves to express an action or state-of-being completed before another past event.
B: they had been during the formation of the universe
Here, the state-of-being conveyed by the past perfect verb in red is not completed before another past event.
Thus, the usage of the past perfect is unjustified.
Eliminate B.

A subject and verb may be omitted in an if-clause only if it is crystal clear what subject and verb are implied.
C: we see them as if during the formation of the universe
Here, it is unclear what subject and verb are implied in the red if-clause.
Eliminate C.

D: they appear to us as they did in the formation of the universe
Here, did stands in for the simple past tense form of the antecedent verb appear.
Conveyed meaning:
Quasars appears to us as they [appeared to us] in the formation of the universe.
The words in brackets are omitted but implied.
Since we were not alive during the formation of the universe, the portion in red conveys a nonsensical meaning.
Eliminate D.

A subject and verb may be omitted in a though-clause only if it is crystal clear what subject and verb are implied.
E: they appear to us as though in the formation of the universe
Here, it is unclear what subject and verb are implied in the red though-clause.
Eliminate E.

The correct answer is A.

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Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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While we definitely need to be aware of grammatical particulars, this is a question that relies chiefly on a correct understanding of the logic of the sentence. Remember, the GMAT's mission isn't so much to test the nuts-and-bolts of grammar as to test effective communication through the conventions of standard written English.

The first clause says that it takes the light from a quasar billions of years to reach Earth where we can observe it. We want the second clause to follow logically from that idea.

Choice A: This is straightforward. We observe them as they were means "in the same way or state" that the quasars were in at a point in the past. How the quasars were billions of years ago is observed by us now, due to the length of time it takes light to travel.
Choice B: The use of the past perfect as they had been is unnecessary. The past perfect is used to place an act or state in the past earlier than another act or state in the past. This sentence relates the past (as they were during the formation of the universe) to the present (we see them).
Choice C: The phrase as if signifies that the state of the quasars as observed on Earth is not real: We see the quasars NOT as they were, but in some way suggestive of how they were. There is nothing in the first clause to suggest such a distortion of perception. This choice dramatically alters the meaning of the sentence and on that basis should be discarded.
Choices D and E shift the focus of the sentence and thus alter its meaning. The focus of the sentence, and its inherent logic, is the observations we make on Earth due to the distance that light must travel in order to reach us. The focal action is our vision, how we are able to see quasars, not how quasars manifest themselves to us. Eliminate both D and E.

Correct choice remains A.

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Terry Serres
The Princeton Review
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tserres.tpr@gmail.com

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