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Verb-ing doubt

This topic has 6 expert replies and 6 member replies

Verb-ing doubt

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The Parthenon was a church from 1204 until 1456, when Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conqueror, the Turkish sultan, who established a mosque in the building and used the Acropolis as a fortress.

(A) who established a mosque in the building and used the Acropolis as

(B) who, establishing a mosque in the building, used the Acropolis like

(C) who, when he had established a mosque in the building, used the Acropolis like

(D) who had established a mosque in the building, using the Acropolis to be

(E) establishing a mosque in the building and using the Acropolis as

I have a doubt with the answer for E provided by the OG
"Establishing illogically modifies ATHENS"
there is no clause preceding establishing
and even if "the Turkish sultan" that is set off by commas is removed, we have got verb-ing modifier without comma

The Parthenon was a church from 1204 until 1456, when Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conqueror establishing a mosque in the building and using the Acropolis as a fortress
hence "establishing" should modify previous noun(Conqueror) but the OG disagrees

Can someone please explain

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djaytg wrote:
The Parthenon was a church from 1204 until 1456, when Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conqueror, the Turkish sultan, who established a mosque in the building and used the Acropolis as a fortress.

(A) who established a mosque in the building and used the Acropolis as

(B) who, establishing a mosque in the building, used the Acropolis like

(C) who, when he had established a mosque in the building, used the Acropolis like

(D) who had established a mosque in the building, using the Acropolis to be

(E) establishing a mosque in the building and using the Acropolis as

I have a doubt with the answer for E provided by the OG
"Establishing illogically modifies ATHENS"
there is no clause preceding establishing
and even if "the Turkish sultan" that is set off by commas is removed, we have got verb-ing modifier without comma

The Parthenon was a church from 1204 until 1456, when Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conqueror establishing a mosque in the building and using the Acropolis as a fortress
hence "establishing" should modify previous noun(Conqueror) but the OG disagrees

Can someone please explain
Generally, COMMA + VERBing refers to the subject of the preceding clause.
In E, establishing is preceded by a comma; hence, a reader might INTERPRET that establishing refers to ATHENS (the nearest preceding subject).
Such an interpretation would imply that ATHENS was establishing a mosque -- clearly not the intended meaning.
This is the reasoning behind the explanation in the OG.

The real issue is that establishing is preceded not by a clause but by a phrase set off by commas: the Turkish sultan.
A phrase set off by commas generally serves as a NON-ESSENTIAL modifier.
A non-essential modifier can be removed without changing the basic meaning of the sentence.
If we remove the non-essential modifier, we get:
Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conquerer establishing a mosque.
This structure makes no sense.

When COMMA + VERBing is preceded not by a non-essential modifier but by a CLAUSE, it should refer to the SUBJECT of the preceding clause.
Two OAs from the OG12:

ANIMAL-HIDE SHIELDS with wooden frames were essential items of military equipment, PROTECTING warriors against enemy arrows and spears.
Here, protecting (comma + verbing] refers to animal-hide shields (the nearest preceding subject).
Meaning: ANIMAL-HIDE SHIELDS were PROTECTING warriors against enemy arrows.

A BREAKWATER OF ROCKS that would rise six feet above the waterline and act as a buffer, ABSORBING the energy of crashing waves.
Here, absorbing (comma + verbing] refers to a breakwater of rocks (the nearest preceding subject).
Meaning: A BREAKWATER OF ROCKS would be ABSORBING the energy of crashing waves.

For more on COMMA + VERBing modifiers in the OG, check my post here:

http://www.beatthegmat.com/ing-verb-modifiers-confusion-t114885.html

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Last edited by GMATGuruNY on Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:16 am; edited 3 times in total

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NOUN + VERBing implies that the VERBing is a restrictive modifier.
The purpose of a restrictive modifier is to SPECIFY the type of noun being discussed.

Mo2men wrote:
Dear GMATGuru
1- Why is the meaning is ok here: Astronomers have detected more than 80 massive planets circling other stars.
Here, the restrictive modifier in blue implies the following:
There are many types of planets.
The sentence is not referring to all these different types.
Rather, the sentence is referring only to SPECIFIC planets: planets that are CIRCLING OTHER STARS.
This meaning is logical.

Quote:
and nonsensical: Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conquerer establishing a mosque.
Here, the restrictive modifier in red implies the following:
There are many types of General Mohammed the Conqueror.
The sentence is not referring to all these different types.
Rather, the sentence is referring only to a SPECIFIC General Mohammed the Conqueror: the General Mohammed the Conqueror who was ESTABLISHING A MOSQUE.
This meaning is nonsensical.
There are not many types of General Mohammed the Conqueror.

Quote:
2- Have you encountered same structure above Independent 'Claus + non essential modifier + VERBing modifier' where VERBing modifier refer to the subject of the clause?
No.

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Hey DJ,

So here's the deal with dreaded -ing words. The thing to remember is that, in general, participles (modifier words that end in -ing or -ed, usually) will modify the noun they're touching when there's no comma before them. When there IS a comma, they get a little hairier. Usually, they modify the ENTIRE sentence up to that point, describing the result:

I flunked the test, disappointing my father greatly.

Notice that the participle "disappointing" is not modifying "test," or even "I." It's modifying "the fact that I flunked the test."

In this example, "establishing a mosque" would thus be the RESULT of Athens being taken by General Mohammed the Conqueror, which it is not. It's something he did, but it isn't the direct result.

Hope that helps!

-t

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GMATGuruNY wrote:
djaytg wrote:
The Parthenon was a church from 1204 until 1456, when Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conqueror, the Turkish sultan, who established a mosque in the building and used the Acropolis as a fortress.

(A) who established a mosque in the building and used the Acropolis as

(B) who, establishing a mosque in the building, used the Acropolis like

(C) who, when he had established a mosque in the building, used the Acropolis like

(D) who had established a mosque in the building, using the Acropolis to be

(E) establishing a mosque in the building and using the Acropolis as

I have a doubt with the answer for E provided by the OG
"Establishing illogically modifies ATHENS"
there is no clause preceding establishing
and even if "the Turkish sultan" that is set off by commas is removed, we have got verb-ing modifier without comma

The Parthenon was a church from 1204 until 1456, when Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conqueror establishing a mosque in the building and using the Acropolis as a fortress
hence "establishing" should modify previous noun(Conqueror) but the OG disagrees

Can someone please explain
A COMMA + VERBing modifier refers to the NEAREST PRECEDING SUBJECT.
Two OAs from the OG12:

ANIMAL-HIDE SHIELDS with wooden frames were essential items of military equipment, PROTECTING warriors against enemy arrows and spears.
Here, protecting (comma + verbing] refers to animal-hide shields (the nearest preceding subject).
Meaning: ANIMAL-HIDE SHIELDS were PROTECTING warriors against enemy arrows.

A BREAKWATER OF ROCKS that would rise six feet above the waterline and act as a buffer, ABSORBING the energy of crashing waves.
Here, absorbing (comma + verbing] refers to a breakwater of rocks (the nearest preceding subject).
Meaning: A BREAKWATER OF ROCKS would be ABSORBING the energy of crashing waves.

Here's answer choice E in the SC above:
ATHENS was taken by General Mohammed the Conqueror, the Turkish sultan, ESTABLISHING a mosque in the building.
Here, establishing (comma + verbing) refers to Athens (the nearest preceding subject).
The result is a distortion of the intended meaning: it was GENERAL MOHAMMED who established a mosque, not ATHENS.
Eliminate E.

Can you please explain the following GMATprep Sentence

In the past several years, astronomers have detected more than 80 massive planets, most of them at least as large as Jupiter, circling other stars.

What is circling referring to?
Astronomers have nothing to do with circling other stars
It clearly refers to planets
I am confused

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Hey DJ,

This is going to get a tiny bit confusing, but bear with me.

Let's look at your sample sentence, "In the past several years, astronomers have detected more than 80 massive planets, most of them at least as large as Jupiter, circling other stars."

Circling is modifying the noun "planets," as in "astronomers have detected 80 planets circling other stars.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "Tommy, you said if there's a comma before the -ing word, it modifies the whole sentence up to that point!" But that's only if the comma is actually there on purpose to create a modifier. This set of two commas is separating out a whole DIFFERENT modifier: "Most of them at least as large as Jupiter."

As for the original sentence and Answer Choice (E): "The Parthenon was a church from 1204 until 1456, when Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conqueror, the Turkish sultan, establishing a mosque in the building and using the Acropolis as a fortress."

In this example, there's no logical sentence where "establishing" is modifying Mohammed the Conqueror:

"...Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conqueror establishing a mosque..."

See how that doesn't make any sense? So even though the modifier "the Turkish sultan" is creating the commas, we know that the only logical meaning of this participle would be the usage I described earlier (as modifier of the whole sentence up to that point). Unfortunately, the meaning of the sentence still doesn't make sense. (BTW, I don't quite agree that there's any implication that Athens established the mosque, in any read of the sentence.)

Good luck!

-t

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djaytg wrote:
Can you please explain the following GMATprep Sentence

In the past several years, astronomers have detected more than 80 massive planets, most of them at least as large as Jupiter, circling other stars.

What is circling referring to?
Astronomers have nothing to do with circling other stars
It clearly refers to planets
I am confused
Here, COMMA + VERBing is preceded not by a clause but by a PHRASE set off by commas: most of them at least as large as Jupiter.
Generally, a phrase set off by commas serves as a NON-ESSENTIAL modifier.
A non-essential modifier can be removed without changing the basic meaning of the sentence.
If we omit the non-essential modifier, we get:
Astronomers have detected more than 80 massive planets circling other stars.
With the non-essential modifier removed, we can clearly see that circling modifies PLANETS.

Please revisit my initial post, in which I've fleshed out the reasoning behind the explanation in the OG.

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I am a newbie in this forum site I want to learn a lot of things!

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Hey saw this question and perhaps I can put it in layman terms for you, as you still seem kind of confused. One thing I have noticed, whether it be with the GMAT experts here or professionals in the workplace is sometimes people get so good at what they are doing they know the technicalities of the, in this case test question, but have a hard time really dumbing it down for people who have no idea what the heck is going on. Not trying to step on all the experts toes here, but for me I learn really well if I can explain things I know to other people, and lord knows I need all the help I can get. But anyways, It took me about 15 seconds to figure out this question and here is my mental process, I hope it helps:
Immediately you can see BCD are ridiculous answer choices. If you understand like vs. As you can cross off B and C, and D doesn't make any sense. So you are left with A and E.

The Parthenon was a church from 1204 until 1456, when Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conqueror, the Turkish sultan, who established a mosque in the building and used the Acropolis as a fortress.

(A) who established a mosque in the building and used the Acropolis as

(E) establishing a mosque in the building and using the Acropolis as

Well I mentally remove the turkish sultan because it isn't important and just get's in the way with trying to figure out the answer. So mentally, I read it as the conquerer who established a mosque in the building and used the acropolis as a fortress. Is this ambiguous in any way? I don't think so. The addition of who directly refers to this conquerer bro. You clearly know who established the mosque and used the Acropolis as a forest. It is definitive. I can't find anything wrong with A that would make it incorrect. That is a good start Smile

Now you look at E and again I just read the sentence as: Athens was taken by General mohammid establishing a mosque in the building and using the Acropolis as.

I mean when you read it like that, one big fluid sentence, it sounds really weird and you can't really tell whether it is meant to be referring to The conquerer guy or the entire sentence. Even if you aren't sure what exactly is wrong with this, as in fact the test doesn't make you tell on every question what is wrong with it, you should know A is more definitively correct than E and less ambiguous.

My dumbed down explanation for the next question:
In the past several years, astronomers have detected more than 80 massive planets, most of them at least as large as Jupiter, circling other stars.

So what is most of them at least as large as jupiter referring to. PLANETS right? I mean obviously the astronomers aren't being compared in how large they are to Jupiter. What do the planets do in this sentence? They circle other stars right? I mean if you took out both the modifiers the sentence would read: Astronomers have detected more than 80 massive planets circling other stars. That is a complete sentence and makes perfect sense. The planets are circling other stars!

I hope my explanation helps. Perhaps it is not the most technical way to put it, but for some reason I have always been good at taking complex ideas and humorously breaking them down into easy to understand/ grasp ideas. Thanks for your time Smile.

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Hey Bpolley,

You know I love you, and you're my forum-BFF, but for your own sake, I have to discourage this kind of thinking about SC. For two reasons:

1) Some people are inherently good with English (intuition): You're writing as if the only people taking this test are native English speakers, so when they read BCD, it's obvious they're crazy. But that's not the majority of people on this forum. They didn't grow up listening to millions of grammatically correct English sentences, so it's not immediately apparent when there's an error. To just say "Look how weird that sounds" doesn't mean anything.

2) [This one's for you!] At the highest levels, your technique breaks down even with intuitive folks: If you make your decisions based on what sounds weird, you're not going to get the hardest questions on SC right. Why? Because they actively take advantage of what sounds good and bad. They take the worst sounding answer choice and make it correct (no actual grammatical errors), and they make sure all the answer choices that sound pretty good are actually wrong (grammatical errors). You need to know how participles and gerunds work, why some modifiers can be eliminated from a sentence when considering certain other modifiers, and all the other boring, silly, obnoxious, irrelevant-to-life-in-general stuff that SC is testing.

Don't hate me!

-t

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GMATGuruNY wrote:
djaytg wrote:
The Parthenon was a church from 1204 until 1456, when Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conqueror, the Turkish sultan, who established a mosque in the building and used the Acropolis as a fortress.

(A) who established a mosque in the building and used the Acropolis as

(B) who, establishing a mosque in the building, used the Acropolis like

(C) who, when he had established a mosque in the building, used the Acropolis like

(D) who had established a mosque in the building, using the Acropolis to be

(E) establishing a mosque in the building and using the Acropolis as

I have a doubt with the answer for E provided by the OG
"Establishing illogically modifies ATHENS"
there is no clause preceding establishing
and even if "the Turkish sultan" that is set off by commas is removed, we have got verb-ing modifier without comma

The Parthenon was a church from 1204 until 1456, when Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conqueror establishing a mosque in the building and using the Acropolis as a fortress
hence "establishing" should modify previous noun(Conqueror) but the OG disagrees

Can someone please explain
Generally, COMMA + VERBing refers to the subject of the preceding clause.
In E, establishing is preceded by a comma; hence, a reader might INTERPRET that establishing refers to ATHENS (the nearest preceding subject).
Such an interpretation would imply that ATHENS was establishing a mosque -- clearly not the intended meaning.
This is the reasoning behind the explanation in the OG.

The real issue is that establishing is preceded not by a clause but by a phrase set off by commas: the Turkish sultan.
A phrase set off by commas generally serves as a NON-ESSENTIAL modifier.
A non-essential modifier can be removed without changing the basic meaning of the sentence.
If we remove the non-essential modifier, we get:
Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conquerer establishing a mosque.
This structure makes no sense.

When COMMA + VERBing is preceded not by a non-essential modifier but by a CLAUSE, it should refer to the SUBJECT of the preceding clause.
Two OAs from the OG12:

ANIMAL-HIDE SHIELDS with wooden frames were essential items of military equipment, PROTECTING warriors against enemy arrows and spears.
Here, protecting (comma + verbing] refers to animal-hide shields (the nearest preceding subject).
Meaning: ANIMAL-HIDE SHIELDS were PROTECTING warriors against enemy arrows.

A BREAKWATER OF ROCKS that would rise six feet above the waterline and act as a buffer, ABSORBING the energy of crashing waves.
Here, absorbing (comma + verbing] refers to a breakwater of rocks (the nearest preceding subject).
Meaning: A BREAKWATER OF ROCKS would be ABSORBING the energy of crashing waves.

For more on COMMA + VERBing modifiers in the OG, check my post here:

http://www.beatthegmat.com/ing-verb-modifiers-confusion-t114885.html
@GMATGuruNY
You said following sentence doesn't make sense. Can you please elaborate?
Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conquerer establishing a mosque.

Also why is this sentence different from the following sentence?

Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conquerer who established a mosque.

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Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conquerer establishing a mosque.


meaning: Conquerer established a mosque but the intent of the sentence is that "General Mohammed the Conquerer took the Athens" and this action caused the "establishing a mosque".

Note: VERB-ing(establishing) modifies the noun(Conquerer) just preceeding it.


Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conquerer who established a mosque.



meaning: General Mohammed the Conquerer took the Athens and he established a mosque.

Note: who is modifying conquerer

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GMATGuruNY wrote:
Here, COMMA + VERBing is preceded not by a clause but by a PHRASE set off by commas: most of them at least as large as Jupiter.
Generally, a phrase set off by commas serves as a NON-ESSENTIAL modifier.
A non-essential modifier can be removed without changing the basic meaning of the sentence.
If we omit the non-essential modifier, we get:
Astronomers have detected more than 80 massive planets circling other stars.
With the non-essential modifier removed, we can clearly see that circling modifies PLANETS.

Please revisit my initial post, in which I've fleshed out the reasoning behind the explanation in the OG.
Dear GMATGuru
1- Why is the meaning is ok here: Astronomers have detected more than 80 massive planets circling other stars.

and nonsensical: Athens was taken by General Mohammed the Conquerer establishing a mosque.

2- Have you encountered same structure above Independent 'Claus + non essential modifier + VERBing modifier' where VERBing modifier refer to the subject of the clause? If yes, can you cite official one.

Thanks

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