Although various eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American poets had professed an interest in Native American poetry and had pretended to imitate Native American forms in their own works, until almost 1900, scholars and critics did not begin seriously to study traditional Native American poetry in native languages.
What does this sentence mean?
The sentence states a contrast.
- Fact 1 = Various 18th & 19th century poets showed interest in Native American poetry & pretended to imitate this form in their works.
- Fact 2 = But still scholars and critics seriously began studying this topic (Native American poetry) after 1900.
What are the errors in the sentence?
- Clause 1: Although various eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American poets had professed an interest in Native American poetry and had pretended to imitate Native American forms in their own works, until almost 1900,
- Clause 2: scholars and critics did not begin seriously to study traditional Native American poetry in native languages.
- Poets – had professed & had pretended = Correct
- Scholars – did not begin = Correct
2. Verb Tense – Correct Tenses used. The actions ‘had professed’ and ‘had pretended’ took place prior to ‘did not begin’. Thus the use of past perfect tense for earlier events and simple past for later event is appropriate.
3. Modifiers – until almost 1900 = Incorrect
- It appears that this modifier should modify the verb in clause 2 indicating when the scholars and critics started studying the Native American poetry.
- But, since it is separated by commas, it can either modify Clause 1 action or Clause 2 action. And hence modification is ambiguous.
4. Pronouns, Parallelism, Idiom – N/A
Answer Choice Analysis
Choice A – Incorrect – Modifier Error as explained above.
Choice B – This choice has two errors
1. Verb Tense: Past perfect tense for the verb – had begun – is incorrect because this action happened after the verbs in non-underlined portion (had professed & had pretended).
2. Modifier: The modifier error in Choice A has been corrected by removing the comma after this modifier. However, now if the complete sentence is read, it is ambiguous whether 1900 is part of “until almost” modifier or 1900 modifies scholars and critics – presenting the number of scholars and critics. Typically, comma should be used to separate the modifiers from the entity being modified to avoid such ambiguity.
Choice C – This choice uses awkward construction – scholars and critics were to begin seriously to study
Choice D – This choice changes the modifier and it is not clear what “almost” modifies. Per the intended meaning “almost” should modify 1900 implying “around 1900 – e.g. it could be in 1899 or 1901”. But placing “almost” before “until” no longer communicates the intended approximation of time period “around 1900”.
Choice E – Correct
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