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Thread: GMAT SC: The Position of "only" changes the meaning!

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    Hi Erin,

    How does the positioning of "ONLY" change the meaning of the different answer choices in the following question?

    22. A collection of 38 poems by Phillis Wheatley, a slave, was published in the 1770s, the first book by a Black woman and it was only the second published by an American woman.

    (A) it was only the second published by an American woman
    (B) it was only the second that an American woman published
    (C) the second one only published by an American woman
    (D) the second one only that an American woman published
    (E) only the second published by an American woman


    SPOILER: Correct answer is E

    Why the answer of this question is C and not A?


    23. A huge flying reptile that died out with the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago, the Quetzalcoatlus had a wingspan of 36 feet, believed to be the largest flying creature the world has ever seen.

    (A) believed to be
    (B) and that is believed to be
    (C) and it is believed to have been
    (D) which was, it is believed,
    (E) which is believed to be

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    First, it is important to understand that the placement of only can change the intended meaning of the sentence.

    Imagine the following sentence, which should sound quite natural to native speakers:

    "Why are you angry? I only did it once!"

    Although this sentence may sound correct, it is shunned by strict grammarians. It would be better to word it "Why are you angry? I did it only once!"

    The following sentences should make the meaning differences clear:


    • Only Linda ate the pizza today. (Nobody else; only Linda.)
    • Linda only ate the pizza today. (Linda didn't cook it or buy it; she only ate it.)
    • Linda ate only the pizza today. (Linda didn't eat anything else today; only pizza.) Linda ate the only pizza today. (There was only one pizza, and Linda ate it.)
    • Linda ate the pizza only today. (Linda didn't eat the pizza yesterday or before; only today; OR, Linda didn't eat the pizza until today.)
    • Linda ate the pizza today only. (Linda didn't eat the pizza yesterday or before; only today.)
    The rule of thumb is this: put only as close as possible to the word it should modify.
    ☼ Waiting for Godot

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    Originally posted by bond_am

    22. A collection of 38 poems by Phillis Wheatley, a slave, was published in the 1770s, the first book by a Black woman and it was only the second published by an American woman.

    (A) it was only the second published by an American woman
    (E) only the second published by an American woman


    The correct answer is E
    Well, this question also tests parallel structure. Since we want to parallel two nouns, not two sentences, we can get rid of A and B. That leaves us with C, D, and E. I think my explanation above of the usage of only should make it clear why we want to say "only the second," and not any of the other choices.

    You should also notice that C and D are a bit wordy.
    ☼ Waiting for Godot

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    Originally posted by bond_am

    Why the answer of this question is C and not A?

    23. a huge flying reptile that died out with the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago, the Quetzalcoatlus had a wingspan of 36 feet, believed to be the largest flying creature the world has ever seen.
    (A) believed to be
    (B) and that is believed to be
    (C) and it is believed to have been
    (D) which was, it is believed,
    (E) which is believed to be
    I also support that answer should be A not C. Isn't it a subjunctive ? Erin Are we right ?

    DKP

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    It can't be A because whentwo past actions are expressed the first past action should be in the past perfect and the second action should be expressed in the simple past. The first past referent here is the belief and is rightly expressed in the past perfect form. Second point to be noted here is we need an 'and' to indicate a separate main clause. we need a noun referent to refer to the flying reptile and not to the Q.....coleus therefore the and it.
    Hopefully i have not confused u

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    Originally posted by rajanireddy123

    It can't be A because whentwo past actions are expressed the first past action should be in the past perfect and the second action should be expressed in the simple past. The first past referent here is the belief and is rightly expressed in the past perfect form. Second point to be noted here is we need an 'and' to indicate a separate main clause. we need a noun referent to refer to the flying reptile and not to the Q.....coleus therefore the and it.
    Hopefully i have not confused u
    No I don't agree with you because

    The 1st sentence is
    a huge flying reptile that died out with the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago,
    This is fine as this is a belief and expressed in simple past.
    Lets see 2nd sentence
    the Quetzalcoatlus had a wingspan of 36 feet,
    This is also correctly expressed in past perfect what Erin like to say 'more past'.

    But last part of sentence i.e.

    believed to be the largest flying creature the world has ever seen.
    Does not fit into sentence correctly if we remove part of sentence between two , i.e. second sentence. Thesentence would look like this one

    a huge flying reptile that died out with the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago and it is believed to have been the largest flying creature the world has ever seen
    First sentence, what I think may be i'm wrong, is a Phrase. and 'and' is a conjunction which joins two clauses so we cant use 'and' here. Secondly, I'm not able to digest use of present perfect here.

    Lets wait for ERIN's reply

    DKP

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    I think (A) is most definitely wrong because "a huge flying reptile that died out with the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago, the Quetzalcoatlus had a wingspan of 36 feet, believed to be the largest flying creature the world has ever seen."

    the noun "36 feet" is followed by the phrase "believed to be".

    The phrase is telling us about the Quetzalcoatlus which is why gramatically the phrase "believed to be the largest flying creature the world has ever seen." should immediately follow the noun "Quetzalcoatlus ".
    Since there is nothing we can do about the positioning of the noun "Quetzalcoatlus",The only option is to introduce "and'

    On the same line of thought we can eliminate (D) and (E) without having to rack our brain over the tense!(you can't use which because it has to immediately follow the noun "Quetzalcoatlus ".)

    Between (B) and (C) in (B) the pronoun "THAT" is not appropriate for "Quetzalcoatlus" which leaves us with only option (C)

    Dkpbus,
    about the way you have broken up the sentence,

    The main clause of the sentence is
    "A huge flying reptile,the Quetzalcoatlus had a wingspan of 36 feet"

    The phrase is
    "that died out with the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago"

    So when you try to use the technique of removing the phrase and checking if the sentence still sounds correct ; it works like this

    "A huge flying reptile,the Quetzalcoatlus had a wingspan of 36 feet and and it is believed to have been the largest flying creature the world has ever seen"
    (which sounds perfect to my ear)

    You can't eliminate the main clause and say that the sentence sounds imperfect,(your first sentence is actually not a sentence )
    By introducing a new main clause , we are constructing a sentence with two independent clauses joint by the conjunction "AND"

    anyway , even i am waiting to see what Erin has to say!
    ananya

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    Well, I used to practice this question for a long time and my teacher told me that the subject of the main clause is the q... not a flying, which is an adjective clause for the q... But I don't know why the answer C is correct. Erin please help us. thanx

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    Re: GMAT SC: The Position of "only" changes the meaning!

    This forum is great. Thanks to all the posters that are participating.
    I took a very simple approach to this.
    All of the other answers refer to wingspan, not the quetzawhateverus.
    The only option that describes the quetzawhateverus is answer C.

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    Re: GMAT SC: The Position of "only" changes the meaning!

    Quote Originally Posted by dkpbus
    I also support that answer should be A not C.
    Choosing A would create a dangling modifier.

    .
    `,,` THE MEEK SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH....er, if that's all right with the rest of you. `,,`

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