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Sentence Correction: Tenses - Past Simple and Progressive

The United States' proposal to help reconstruct and create a more secure economic foundation for Western European countries in the aftermath of World War II, known as the Marshall Plan, met with opposition from the USSR, which viewed it chiefly as an attempt to undermine the consolidation of the Soviet Bloc.

Incorrect.

This answer choice is grammatically incorrect and illogical.

In the original sentence the use of the parallel verbs reconstruct and create is illogical, because it doesn't make sense to say that the goal of the plan was to both reconstruct (=rebuild) and create the same object (a more secure economic foundation). To reconstruct is to change or rebuild something that already exists, but to create is to bring something new into existence.

In addition, the pronoun it in the second part of the sentence is ambiguous. It can refer to any of the preceding singular nouns in the sentence (e.g. opposition, or Plan).

Incorrect.

While this answer choice corrects the Pronoun ambiguity mistake in the original question by changing its to European and by changing it to the plan, it is grammatically incorrect.

By changing The United States' proposal to the United States proposed, the corrected sentence creates a Dangling Modifier mistake. The corrected sentence begins with a modifier: Known as the Marshall Plan. A modifier should be placed right next to the noun it describes. However, what immediately follows the modifier is the United States, and the United States is not known as the Marshall Plan.

What helps us identify this question as a Dangling Modifier question as well as identify the mistake is the following Stop Sign:

A modifier, characterized by all of the following:
1. Verb+ing or Verb in 3rd form
2. Separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma
3. Appears at the very beginning of the sentence

Whenever you see this Stop Sign, focus on the modifier: check whether the noun right after the modifier is indeed the noun that the modifier describes. If it isn't - you've found your mistake.

Incorrect.

While this answer choice is grammatically correct, it is stylistically flawed and slightly changes the meaning of the original sentence.

This answer choice corrects the logical mistake in the original sentence by breaking up the parallel verbs reconstruct and create, and matching reconstruct with Western Europe and create with a more secure..foundation.

However, with the sentence rearranged, it is difficult to grasp the meaning of the sentence, making it confusing and unclear. The designation the Marshall Plan is introduced before we are told what the Marshall Plan is. The subject of the sentence changes too, from the United State's proposal to the USSR. Instead of telling us something about the U.S. initiative, the perspective changes to the USSR. This is a departure from the gist of the original sentence.

In addition, in the aftermath of World War II is awkwardly placed between the proposal and its definition and as it is a time expression, it would be better placed at the beginning or end of the sentence or idea to which it belongs.

Some GMAT Sentence Correction questions are more focused on testing your grasp of style than of grammar. This answer choice gives you a feel for this kind of question.

Well done!

This answer choice corrects the logical mistake in the original sentence by breaking up the parallel construction reconstruct and create, and matching the verb reconstruct with Western Europe and the verb create with a more secure..foundation.

In addition, this answer choice eliminates the ambiguity of the original sentence by repeating the word the plan instead of using the pronoun it to refer to the Marshall plan.

Incorrect.

This answer choice is grammatically incorrect and illogical, as well as stylistically flawed.

The use of the Past Perfect tense (had proposed) is incorrect. For actions that occurred at a specific point in the past, such as in the aftermath of World War II, the appropriate tense to use is Past Simple. Remember that certain time expressions indicate when Past Simple is correct. e.g. yesterday, ago, during, in. Also, the Past Perfect tense is normally used to show that one finished action in the past occurred before another. In this sentence there is no such comparison.

In addition, the use of the plural pronoun they is ambiguous and confusing: the location of they in the corrected sentence's second clause suggests that it refers to USSR, but this would be grammatically incorrect (USSR is singular). If they is taken to refer to the plural noun countries this would create an awkward construction - since countries appears in the first clause, before the semicolon. Furthermore, the sentence would be illogical, since the Western European countries did not oppose the Marshall Plan.

The United States' proposal to help reconstruct and create a more secure economic foundation for Western European countries in the aftermath of World War II, known as the Marshall Plan, met with opposition from the USSR, which viewed it chiefly as an attempt to undermine the consolidation of the Soviet Bloc.

Known as the Marshall Plan, the United States proposed to help reconstruct Western Europe and create a more secure economic foundation for European countries in the aftermath of World War II, but met with opposition from the USSR, which viewed the plan chiefly as an attempt to undermine the consolidation of the Soviet Bloc.

Viewing the Marshall Plan chiefly as an attempt to undermine the consolidation of the Soviet Bloc, the USSR opposed the United States' proposal, in the aftermath of World War II, to help reconstruct Western Europe and create for its countries a more secure economic foundation.

Known as the Marshall Plan, the United States' proposal to help reconstruct Western European countries in the aftermath of World War II and create a more secure foundation for their economies met with opposition from the USSR, which viewed the plan chiefly as an attempt to undermine the consolidation of the Soviet Bloc.

In the aftermath of World War II, the United States had proposed to help the countries and economies of Western Europe undergo reconstruction by creating a more secure foundation for their economies; this was viewed by the USSR chiefly as an attempt to undermine the consolidation of the Soviet Bloc, which they opposed.