While most of the earliest known ball courts in Mesoamerica date

Question

While most of the earliest known ball courts in Mesoamerica date to 900–400 b.c., waterlogged latex balls found at El Manati and representations of ballplayers painted on ceramics found at San Lorenzo attest to the fact that the Mesoamerican ballgame was well established by the mid-thirteenth century b.c.

Option A
Option B
Option C
Option D
Option E

(This question is from Official Guide. Therefore, because of copyrights, the complete question cannot be copied here. The question can be accessed at GMAT Club)

Solution

Sentence Analysis

Here’s the sentence structure:

  • While most of the earliest known ball courts (1st Dependent Clause (DC). Subject: ‘Most…courts’)
    • in Mesoamerica (Prepositional phrase modifying ‘ball courts’)
  • date to 900–400 b.c., (‘date to’ is the verb of the 1st DC. Please note that ‘date to’ is idiomatically correct since it appears in the non-underlined part.)
  • waterlogged latex balls (‘balls’ is first part of the subject of the Independent Clause (IC). ‘waterlogged’ and ‘latex’ are modifying ‘balls’) 
    • found at El Manati (‘verb-ed’ modifier modifying ‘balls’)
  • and representations of ballplayers (‘representations’ is the second part of the subject of the IC. ‘of ballplayers’ modifies ‘representations’)
    • painted on ceramics (‘verb-ed’ modifier modifying ‘representations’. Pls note that even though the closest noun to this modifier is ‘ballplayers’, it cannot modify ‘ballplayers’ since it doesn’t make sense to say ballplayers were painted on ceramics. Also, ‘painted’ can easily modify ‘representations’ since the intervening phrase ‘of ballplayers’ is also modifying ‘representations’. A noun-modifier can jump over other noun-modifiers.)
      • found at San Lorenzo (verb-ed modifier modifying ‘ceramics’)
  • attest to the fact (‘attest to’ is the verb of the IC)
    • that the Mesoamerican ballgame was well established by the mid-thirteenth century b.c. (This entire ‘that’ clause modifies ‘the fact’. In this clause, ‘ballgame’ is the subject and ‘was established’ is the verb.)

The sentence provides a contrast that while some evidence (ball courts) indicates that ballgame was around 900-400 b.c. old, other evidence (latex balls and representations) indicates that the ballgame existed even in mid-thirteenth century b.c.

The sentence appears to be correct as is.

Option Analysis

(A) Correct.

(B) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. SV Disagreement – The singular verb ‘attests’ doesn’t agree with the plural subject ‘balls and the painting’.
  2. Meaning – On reading ‘the painting of xyz on ceramics’, ‘the painting’ seems to refer to the act of painting, not the final product. Clearly, reference to the act of painting will not make any sense here. Besides, since we are talking about plural ‘ceramics’, we should have plural ‘paintings’, not singular ‘painting’ since per common sense, I’d expect multiple ceramics to have multiple paintings.

(C) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. SV Disagreement – The singular verb ‘attests’ doesn’t agree with the plural subject ‘balls and ceramics’.
  2. Modifier issue – Right now, ‘found’ seems to modify ‘ballplayers’, leading to a non-sensical meaning that ballplayers were found at San Lorenzo. For ‘found’ to modify ‘ceramics’, the sentence should be written as ‘ceramics painted with representations of ballplayers and found at San Lorenzo’ since both ‘painted’ and ‘found’ are verb-ed modifiers modifying the same entity ‘ceramics’.

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. SV Disagreement – The singular verb ‘attests’ doesn’t agree with the plural subject ‘the finding and the painting’. However, if one reads the option as:
    1. the finding of
      1. waterlogged latex balls at El Manati
      2. and the painting of representations of ballplayers on ceramics found at San Lorenzo
    2. attests

In this case, the subject is the singular ‘finding’, and thus the verb agrees with the subject. Thus, in a way, we can say that SV disagreement doesn’t exist since the list can be made in a way that ‘painting’ becomes parallel to ‘balls’. Therefore, we can’t reject this option for this reason.

  1. Meaning – Same as 2nd point of option B

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. SV Disagreement – The plural verb ‘attest’ doesn’t agree with the singular subject ‘the finding’.
  2. Slight meaning change – In this option, ‘at San Lorenzo’ modifies ‘painted’, meaning that the representations were painted at San Lorenzo. Per the original sentence, the representations were ‘found’ at San Lorenzo. Please note that I’ve highlighted this meaning change just to bring to your notice; I’d never reject an option for such a small meaning change, especially since the ‘changed meaning’ also makes sense.

About Chiranjeev Singh

An Alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad and with scores of 780 (2017) and 770 (2013) on GMAT and 99.98%ile on CAT, Chiranjeev is one of the most qualified GMAT tutors in India. Chiranjeev has earlier served as Director of Curriculum at e-GMAT. Chiranjeev has been helping students ace GMAT since 2012. He follows a concept-based methodology to teaching GMAT and is very committed to student success. You may contact him for any private GMAT tutoring needs at CJ@GMATwithCJ.com. He conducts online sessions for students across the world.

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