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Sentence Correction: Tenses - Past Simple and Progressive

An amphictyony is a term used by ancient Greek historians, meaning a league of neighbors that was forming an alliance of city-states and together supported the rites and traditions of a regional sanctuary.

Incorrect.

This answer choice is grammatically incorrect because it makes incorrect use of the Past Progressive (was forming) to indicate an action that occurred in the finished past.

The Past Progressive should only be used to describe an action that was in progress (a) at a certain point in the past; (b) when another action occurred; or (c) while another action was taking place at the same time.

However, the formation of an alliance was not an action in progress at a specific time, nor did it occur at the same time as another action; it is a completed action.

Incorrect.

While this answer choice corrects the Tense mistake in the original question, by changing was forming in the Past Progressive to formed in the Past Simple, it is grammatically incorrect.

The corrected sentence is a fragment, lacking a conjugated verb. The conjugated verbs formed and supported are not part of the main clause, but part of the relative clause that follows the relative pronoun that.


Incorrect.

While this answer choice corrects the Tense mistake in the original question, by removing the incorrect use of the past progressive tense was forming, it is grammatically incorrect and illogical.

The use of the non-conjugated verb forming (and the parallel ...and supporting) now transforms the beginning of the sentence into a modifier. A modifier should be placed right next to the noun it describes. However, what immediately follows the modifier is the term amphictyony and the term itself cannot form an alliance of city states or support rites.

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Furthermore, the remainder of the sentence illogically suggests that the term amphictyony was itself a league. The word amphictyony can only refer to/describe/define/mean something or other, not be a league of neighbors .

What helps us identify this mistake in the original sentence is the following Stop Sign:

The word/term...   (it) is...

Well done!

This answer choice corrects the Tense mistake in the original question by changing was forming in the Past Progressive to formed in the Past Simple. It also correctly places the modifier Used by ancient Greek historians before the noun it modifies (the term amphictyony), and correctly matches the verb means with the subject the term.

What helps us identify this mistake in the original sentence is the following Stop Sign:

The word/term...   (it) is...

Incorrect.

While this answer choice corrects the Tense mistake in the original question by changing the conjugated verb was forming (Past Progressive) to the non-conjugated V3 form formed, it is illogical, changes the meaning of the original sentence, and is stylistically flawed.

In the corrected sentence, the subject An alliance formed of city-states, etc. is completed by two parallel verbs in passive construction: was referred to by the term amphictyony and (was) used by ancient Greek historians.

While items A and B are grammatically parallel, they are not logically parallel.  A is logical in the context of the sentence, but B is not. It is not logical to say that an alliance...was used by ancient Greek historians.

In addition, the use of the passive makes the corrected sentence stylistically inferior to a more active one.

An amphictyony is a term used by ancient Greek historians, meaning a league of neighbors that was forming an alliance of city-states and together supported the rites and traditions of a regional sanctuary

Used by ancient Greek historians, an amphictyony, meaning a league of neighbors that formed an alliance of city-states and together supported the rites and traditions of a regional sanctuary

Forming an alliance of city-states and together supporting the rites and traditions of a regional sanctuary, the term amphictyony used by ancient Greek historians was a league of neighbors

Used by ancient Greek historians, the term amphictyony means a league of neighbors that formed an alliance of city-states and supported the rites and traditions of a regional sanctuary

An alliance formed of city-states that together supported the rites and traditions of a regional sanctuary was referred to by the term amphictyony or "league of nations" and used by ancient Greek historians