OG13-Q70 The first trenches that were cut into a 500-acre

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The first trenches that were cut into a 500-acre site at
Tell Hamoukar, Syria, have yielded strong evidence for
centrally administered complex societies in northern
regions of the Middle East that were arising
simultaneously with but independently of the more
celebrated city-states of southern Mesopotamia, in
what is now southern Iraq.
(A) that were cut into a 500-acre site at Tell
Hamoukar, Syria, have yielded strong evidence
for centrally administered complex societies in
northern regions of the Middle East that were
arising simultaneously with but
(B) that were cut into a 500-acre site at Tell
Hamoukar, Syria, yields strong evidence that
centrally administered complex societies in
northern regions of the Middle East were arising
simultaneously with but also
(C) having been cut into a 500-acre site at Tell
Hamoukar, Syria, have yielded strong evidence
that centrally administered complex societies in
northern regions of the Middle East were arising
simultaneously but
(D) cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria,
yields strong evidence of centrally administered
complex societies in northern regions of the
Middle East arising simultaneously but also
(E) cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria,
have yielded strong evidence that centrally
administered complex societies in northern
regions of the Middle East arose simultaneously
with but

My doubt:

Option A

I understand that ..that parallelism is unnecsessary as well as wrong here
that---were cut..that were arising simuletaneously
Also it is unnecessary to use --that were cut when we can simply use CUT.

Apart from this please clarify isn't the placement of second that incorrect here.
The second that is placed --centrally administered complex societies in
northern regions of the Middle East that were
arising simultaneously with but

Isn't the second 'that' supposed to refer to the complex societies but is actually referring to Northern regions of middle east.

Please help.

Thanks
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by ceilidh.erickson » Sat Sep 24, 2016 5:52 pm

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Your confusion is a very common and understandable one!

Modifying dependent clauses (often beginning with THAT or WHICH) are generally understood to modify the noun directly before them.

Correct: The jacket, which I bought yesterday, is blue.
Incorrect: The jacket is blue, which I bought yesterday.

However, there is an exception to this rule (as there is with just about every rule in the English language, it seems!). A dependent clause is allowed to "hop" over a short essential modifier (usually a prepositional phrase) to get to the noun it's modifying.

Consider:

Flooding in the Moose River valley, which was once rare, has become a much more common occurrence in recent years.

If we moved the WHICH clause to be next to FLOODING, the sentence would sound very awkward:

Flooding, which was once rare, in the Moose River valley, has become a much more common occurrence in recent years.

So, in the sentence you cited,
centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East that were arising simultaneously with but...
it would have been acceptable to use THAT to modify SOCIETIES. It's a bit clunky, since we'd be "hopping" over two prepositional phrases to get to the noun, but it wouldn't technically be wrong. It's likely that a right answer on the GMAT would switch to something more concise / less clunky (although not always).

There are two primary issues in this sentence are actually SUBJECT/VERB AGREEMENT and MEANING.

Any sentence that separates the main subject and verb with a long modifier in the middle is likely testing SUBJECT/VERB agreement.
The first trenches that were cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, have yielded strong evidence...

The original sentence has agreement, but B and D use "yields." Eliminate these.

In C, "having been cut" suggests a more complicated time relationship than is necessary. Never use a complicated verbal construction when a simple one will do!

Between A and E, the primary difference is not "that were cut" vs "cut." It's the expression EVIDENCE FOR vs. EVIDENCE THAT. We use "evidence FOR" when giving evidence to someone, or ascribing ownership. "That letter will be used as evidence for the prosecution."

"Evidence THAT" conveys reasoning indicating that something HAPPENED. "We found evidence that the prosecution withheld crucial information from the defense."

Clearly in this sentence, we want to use evidence THAT these societies did something; we're not giving evidence TO the societies.

Hope this helps!
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by ceilidh.erickson » Sat Sep 24, 2016 5:57 pm

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by [email protected] » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:59 pm

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Hello Everyone!

Let's take a look at this question, one issue at a time, and narrow it down to the correct answer! To begin, let's take a quick look at the question and highlight any major differences between the options in orange:

The first trenches that were cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, have yielded strong evidence for centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East that were arising simultaneously with but independently of the more celebrated city-states of southern Mesopotamia, in what is now southern Iraq.

(A) that were cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, have yielded strong evidence for centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East that were arising simultaneously with but
(B) that were cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, yields strong evidence that centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East were arising simultaneously with but also
(C) having been cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, have yielded strong evidence that centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East were arising simultaneously but
(D) cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, yields strong evidence of centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East arising simultaneously but also
(E) cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, have yielded strong evidence that centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East arose simultaneously with but

After a quick glance over the options, a few key differences jumped out:

1. that were cut / having been cut / cut
2. have yielded vs. yields
3. how each option ends (hint: it's a parallelism issue)


The best one for us to start with is actually #2 on our list: have yielded vs. yields. This is the best place to start because regardless of which one we choose, we'll eliminate 2-3 options rather quickly. Since these are both verbs, we should check to make sure they agree with the subject:

The first trenches that were cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, have yielded strong evidence for centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East that were arising simultaneously with but independently of the more celebrated city-states of southern Mesopotamia, in what is now southern Iraq.

Since the subject of the sentence is plural, we need to make sure the verbs we use are also plural. Let's see how each option breaks down:

(A) that were cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, have yielded strong evidence for centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East that were arising simultaneously with but
(B) that were cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, yields strong evidence that centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East were arising simultaneously with but also
(C) having been cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, have yielded strong evidence that centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East were arising simultaneously but
(D) cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, yields strong evidence of centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East arising simultaneously but also
(E) cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, have yielded strong evidence that centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East arose simultaneously with but

We can eliminate options B and D because they use the singular "yields" with the plural subject "trenches," which doesn't agree.

Now that we're down to 3 options, let's go back and take a look at #1 and #3 on our list. We need to make sure that we're being as clear and concise as possible here, so let's rule out any options that are overly wordy, unclear, or don't use parallel structure:

(A) that were cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, have yielded strong evidence for centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East that were arising simultaneously with but

This is INCORRECT because it's overly wordy. There is no difference between saying "that were cut" and "cut" in this sentence, so why add unnecessary extras? We also have an idiom problem with the phrase "evidence for." In English, we say "evidence of," "evidence that," or "evidence which," but we do NOT say "evidence for."

(C) having been cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, have yielded strong evidence that centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East were arising simultaneously but

Again, this is INCORRECT because the phrase "having been cut" is overly wordy and awkward. You can just say "cut" and it conveys essentially the same thing. There's also a parallelism issue here, too! Here's the problem - both items need to work with the phrase "southern Mesopotamia" directly after them:

were arising simultaneously but independently of southern Mesopotamia --> NOT PARALLEL
were arising simultaneously with but independently of southern Mesopotamia --> PARALLEL

(E) cut into a 500-acre site at Tell Hamoukar, Syria, have yielded strong evidence that centrally administered complex societies in northern regions of the Middle East arose simultaneously with but

This is CORRECT! It's clear, concise, follow idiom rules, and uses parallel structure.


There you have it - option E is the correct choice!


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