Among the objects found in the excavated temple were small

Question

Among the objects found in the excavated temple were small terra-cotta effigies left by supplicants who were either asking the goddess Bona Dea's aid in healing physical and mental ills or thanking her for such help.

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

The first thing to notice with this sentence is that the sentence is in the inverted structure. “Among the objects” is not acting as the subject of the sentence; rather, it is a prepositional phrase, and thus cannot act as the subject, even if it wants to!

Then, what is the subject? To identify that, you need to first identify the verb, and then ask “what/who is performing this verb?”.

As you read the sentence, you can figure out that “were” is the verb. So, somethings ‘were’ among the objects found in the excavated temple. What are those ‘somethings’? Those are small terra-cotta effigies left by supplicants. Therefore, these ‘small terra-cotta effigies’ constitute the subject.

In this sentence, you might think that you don’t need to do all this analysis since this is the non-underlined part. However, I may not completely agree with you. You should almost always try to understand the meaning of the sentence. While understanding the meaning, you may not perform the subject-verb analysis on the non-underlined part. However, I, being a teacher, thought it wise to explain the inverted structure J

Coming back to the sentence. The sentence then provides a relative clause to provide additional information about the supplicants.

  • who were either asking the goddess Bona Dea's aid in healing physical and mental ills or thanking her for such help.

We see that these supplicants were doing either of the two things:

  1. asking the goddess Bona Dea’s aid in healing some ills
  2. thanking her for such help.

We see that both the elements in the “either...or” structure are parallel – both are part of the continuous verb “were asking” and “were thanking”.

Therefore, the original sentence has no error.

Option Analysis

(A) Correct.

(B) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. “either” is followed by “and”. “either” must always be followed by “or” and never by “and”.
  2. “to thank” is not parallel to “asking”.

(C) Incorrect. “either” is followed by “and” – Same error as in option B.

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. “aid to heal” is idiomatically incorrect. When we want to talk about the reason for which aid is given, we use “aid + in + verb-ing” and not “aid + to + verb”. However, when we want to talk about the recipient of the aid, we can use “aid to”. For example: “They have given aid to the poor people”. So, you shouldn’t reject an option just on seeing “aid to”. Also, notice that in the first construction “to” is followed by a verb while in the second construction, “to” is followed by a noun (i.e. the recipient of the aid).
  2. “to thank” is not parallel to “asking”.

(E) Incorrect. “aid to heal” is incorrect as explained in option D.

About Chiranjeev Singh

An Alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad and with a score 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 +91 9971 0010 67 or CJ@GMATwithCJ.com. He conducts online sessions for students across the world.

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