In the major cities of industrialized countries at the end of the nineteenth century

Question

In the major cities of industrialized countries at the end of the nineteenth century, important public places such as theaters, restaurants, shops, and banks had installed electric lighting, but electricity was in less than one percent of homes, where lighting was still provided mainly by candles or gas.

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.)

Solution

Meaning Analysis

  • In the major cities of industrialized countries
  • at the end of the nineteenth century,
  • important public places
    • such as theaters, restaurants, shops, and banks
  • had installed electric lighting,
  • but electricity was in less than one percent of homes,
    • where lighting was still provided mainly by candles or gas.

The sentence talks about something that happened “in the major industrialized countries” “at the end of the nineteenth century”. What happened?

  1. Important public places had installed electric lighting. The use of past perfect “had installed” indicates action completed before “the end of the nineteenth century”. So, these places had installed electric lighting before the end of the nineteenth century.
  2. Electricity was in <1% of homes. In homes, electricity was still primarily provided by candles or gas (since only a few of them had electricity).

Error Analysis

There is no error in the sentence. The use of simple past tense at both places: “was in less than..” and “was still provided” is appropriate since the sentence wants to talk about things that were true at a point in time in the past i.e. the end of the nineteenth century.

Option Analysis

(A) Correct. As discussed above.

(B) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. There is no verb after “and”. “provided” acts as a verb-ed modifier, not verb, for “lighting”.
  2. If we have a verb after “and”, we’ll have an independent clause after “and”, which cannot be connected with another independent clause just with “and”. We need “comma + and”.

(C) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. “where” either modifies “electricity” or “homes with electricity”. Clearly, the first modification is illogical. Even the second modification is illogical since it doesn’t make sense to say that lighting was provided mainly candles or gas in “homes with electricity”. “where” needs to modify homes in general, but such a possibility doesn’t exist in this option.
  2. The past perfect tense “had been” and past continuous tense “was being” don’t make sense together. As per the meaning, both the actions need to be in the same time-frame and thus need to use the same verb tense.

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Since we are talking about plural noun “homes”, we need to have “there were” rather than “there was”. It is correct to say “there was water” (water is uncountable), but it is not correct to say “there was cars” (cars is plural).
  2. “comma+verb-ing” after a clause modifies the preceding clause and needs to make sense with the subject. Here, “having” doesn’t make sense with “there”. If we associate this modifier with the clause “that had electricity”, it still doesn’t make sense to say that the homes (that had electricity) had lighting that was still provided mainly by candles or gas. Clearly, we want to modify homes in general, not just homes having electricity.

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. The use of past perfect “lighting had still been” is incorrect. This action happened simultaneously with, not before, the action in the previous clause “homes had electricity”.
  2. “where” modifies the closest noun “electricity”. It seems that lighting had still been provided mainly by candles or gas in electricity (since “where” modifies “electricity”).

 

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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