ACT English : Other Verb Usage Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Other Verb Usage Errors

My father and I both believe that fishing is fun.

Possible Answers:

to fish is fun.

going fishing is a fun thing to do.

fishing is a fun thing to do.

fishing is fun for us.

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

The correct answer is the only one that is both concise and correctly uses gerunds. Remember: if a verb ending in -ing is followed by another verb ("is", in this case), it is likely to be a gerund.

Example Question #2 : Other Verb Usage Errors

       Thomas placed his quill on the parchment, looking toward the mantel upon which, earlier that morning, he saw the painting of the old monastic saint, Benedict of Nursia. To his surprise, the mantel was empty, not having any items on it’s narrow flat surface. As the image had been a gift from his old schoolmaster; he was concerned at the absence of the item.

       He asked himself “Where could it have went?” Then, he gathered together his work and decided to ask one of his officemates about the cherished image. Leaving the room, he entered the foyer and turning to the secretary asked about the whereabouts of the others’.

       The secretary looked at Thomas’ imposing figure and answered, “A group of the professors departed earlier for a University meeting. However, I cant recall exactly when they departed.” Although Thomas was not known for being passionate, the young secretary could see that he was agitated than usual.

       The older man did not wish to worry his younger coworker. Smiling slightly, he said, “Don’t worry, Reginald. I seem to have misplaced my image of Benedict, though I know not how.” He continued by telling the younger man the chronology of events. Suddenly, the detailed recounting jogged the latters’ memory. He forgot an obvious detail that he only now remembered.

       Looking at Thomas in embarrassment, Reginald, said, “Earlier this afternoon, I came in to your working area take the painting. Bonaventure had come to visit and asked to borrow it. You were so engrossed by you’re work that I did not want to disturb you. He will be stopping by to see you and I later today, so we can ask him to return it.”

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the passage. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

the detailed, recounting

NO CHANGE

the detail recounted

the details, recounting, 

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

As the sentence stands, it is grammatically correct. The gerund "recounting" is a form of the verb "to recount" that is used as a noun, here meaning something akin to "the act of recounting." It was this act of recounting that jogged Reginald's memory.

Example Question #3 : Other Verb Usage Errors

When she was asked what her favorite activity was, Micaela said sleep.

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

said "sleeping."

"slept."

says "sleeping."

NO CHANGE

says "sleep."

Correct answer:

said "sleeping."

Explanation:

Instead of the noun "sleep," a better choice is the gerund "sleeping". A gerund is a verb that ends in "-ing," like a participle, but acts like a noun (instead of an adjective). In this situation where Micaela is asked about an activity, it's better to use the gerund form because it is more "active" than just the normal noun. 

Example Question #4 : Other Verb Usage Errors

Adapted from The Apology by Plato (trans. Jowett)

This inquisition has led to my having many enemies of the worst and most dangerous kind and has given occasion also to many false statements against me. And I am called wise, for my hearers always imagine that I myself possess the wisdom which I find lacking in others. However, O men of Athens, the truth is that god only is wise. By his answer he intends to show that the wisdom of men is worth little or nothing. He is not speaking of Socrates, he is only using my name by way of illustration. It is as though he said, “He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing.” And so, I go about the world, obedient to the god, searching and making enquiry into the wisdom of any one, whether citizen or stranger, who appears to be wise. If he is not wise, then I show him that he is not wise. My occupation quite absorbs me, and I have no time to give either to any public matter of interest or to any concern of my own. Indeed I am in utter poverty by reason of my devotion to the god.

There is another thing. Young men of the richer classes, who have not much to do, come about me of their own accord. They like to hear my examinations of others and often imitate me, and then proceed to examine others. They quickly discover that there is plenty of people, who think that they know something but really know little or nothing. Then, those who are examined by them instead of being angry with themselves become angry with me. 

“This confounded Socrates,” they say, “this villainous misleader of youth!” And then, if somebody asks them, “What evil does he practice or teach?” they do not know and cannot tell. However, in order that they may not appear to be at a loss, they repeat the ready-made charges which are used against all philosophers: the teaching things up in the clouds and under the earth, having no gods, and making wrong things appear to be right. 

They do not like to confess that their pretence of knowledge has been detected (which is the truth). And as they are numerous and ambitious and energetic, they have filled your ears with they’re loud and inveterate calumnies.

And this, O men of Athens, is the truth and the whole truth. I have concealed nothing; I have dissembled nothing. And yet, I know that my plainness of speech makes them hate me. Still, what is their hatred but a proof that I am speaking the truth? From this have arisen the crowds’ prejudice against me. This is the reason of it, as you will find out either in this or in any future enquiry.

Without altering the sense of the selection, which of the following is an acceptable form for the underlined selection, "my having many enemies"?

Possible Answers:

will have many enemies

many enemies

my many enemies

NO CHANGE

have many enemies

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

As written, this is a correct use of the gerund "having." The inquisition (inquiry) has led to a situation—namely, the state of the speaker (Socrates) having many enemies. The word "having" is functioning as a noun, having the modifier "my." Therefore "my having" is the object of the main verb expression "led to." Although we don't use gerunds much in spoken English, they are legitimate (and often useful) constructs for writing.

Example Question #5 : Other Verb Usage Errors

I love to cleaning. It’s a good way to unwind at the end of the day, and, I always function better in a clean environment. I once heard someone say, “You’re home is your temple.” I attempt to lived my life by that. My priorities are getting rid of clutter, sweeping the floor, washing the dishes, and cleaning the counter top in our kitchen. I mop the floor extremely, quickly. I don’t mop all that often, but my roommates appreciate it whenever I do!.

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the passage. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

I love cleaning.

I loved cleaning.

I love when cleaning.

NO CHANGE

I love when to cleaning.

Correct answer:

I love cleaning.

Explanation:

The word “cleaning” functions as a gerund in this sentence, so it can be treated like a noun. It is the predicate nominative of the verb “love.”

 

“I love (blank).”

“I love cleaning.” – The predicate nominative is a gerund.

“I love paper.” – The predicate nominative is a noun.

“I hate reading.” – The predicate nominative is a gerund.

“I hate food.” – The predicate nominative is a noun.

 

It is grammatically correct to write, "I loved cleaning." However, the author uses the present tense in the rest of the paragraph, so the past tense does not fit here.

Example Question #6 : Other Verb Usage Errors

Adapted from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)

As they entered, they saw Dorian Gray who was seated at the piano his back to them, turning over the pages of a volume of Schumann's "Forest Scenes." "You must lend me these, Basil," he cried. "I want to learn them. They are perfectly charming." "That entirely depends on how you sit to-day, Dorian."

"Oh, I am tired of sitting, and I don't want a life-sized portrait of myself," answered the lad, swinging round on the music-stool in a willful, petulant manner. When he caught sight of Lord Henry, a faint blush colored his cheeks for a moment, and he started up. "I beg your pardon, Basil. I did’nt know you had any one with you."

"This is Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian, an old Oxford friend of mine. I have just been telling him what a capital sitter you were, and now you have spoiled everything."

"You have not spoiled my pleasure in meeting you, Mr. Gray," said Lord Henry, stepping forward and extended his hand. "My aunt has often spoken to me about you. You are one of her favorites, and, I am afraid, one of her victims also."

"I am in Lady Agatha's black books at present," answered Dorian with a funny look of penitence. "I promised to go to a club in Whitechapel with her last Tuesday, and I really forgot all about it. We were to have played a duet together: three duets, I believe. I don't know what she will say to me. I am far too frightened to call."

Which of the following is the best form of the underlined selection, "forward and extended his hand"?

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

forward and extending his hand

forward, and extending his hand

forward and having extended his hand

Correct answer:

forward and extending his hand

Explanation:

The participial phrase describes the action being done by Lord Henry. He is both "stepping" and "extending." The finite verb "extended" is not appropriate here, as it has no subject assigned in the subordinate clause. Also, since this form is not the conjunction of two independent clauses, there is no need for a comma between the two participles.

Example Question #7 : Other Verb Usage Errors

Paul stood waiting, for the meeting with James. He had arrived early at the little alleyway in northern Bramville, waiting to meet the other man at a pub named the “Pick and the Shovel.” The whole situation was extremely strange, for Paul had never met James. Indeed, nobody whom Paul knew had met him. Hitherto, the mysterious man had been nothing more than a voice on the phone and a conversationalist via e-mail.

The making, of the trip to Bramville, was utterly unexpected, and his companions had encouraged him to reconnoiter the situation, record his thoughts, and communicate them within the coming week. Many peoples’ fates rode on the character of this mysterious man, this James. By stroke of luck, Paul was about to meet him.

Although Paul was quite certain that this was the appropriate course of action, he was still quite unnerved. Thousands of miles from his home, far from any friends, and without a cell phone, he could well be the target of a dangerous man. For this reason, he watched very intently as every person passed by, particularly those men who were alone. Many times, he asked himself, “Is that him”?

Thus, Paul watched and waited, somewhat overcome with fear yet also anxious to meet this mysterious man. It was time for a meeting with this man, upon whose mysterious persona were placed so many hopes. Though Paul was nervous to be the person to meet James, he knew that he was the man to whom this task had been appointed by fate.

Which of the following is the best form of the bolded selection?

Possible Answers:

The making, of the trip to Bramville, were

NO CHANGE

The making of the trip to Bramville was

To make of the trip to Bramville was

Correct answer:

The making of the trip to Bramville was

Explanation:

First, we can eliminate the options that have the extra commas in them. These merely add confusion to the sentence without helping to structure it. The phrase "of the trip to Bramville" helps to clarify the very vague gerund "making." The gerund itself is the subject of the sentence. That is, the "making" is the subject. Thus, the best option for this sentence is one that has no commas and has the singular subject "was." The use of "to make" in the other option really is a confusing and incorrect use of an infinitive as a subject.

Example Question #8 : Other Verb Usage Errors

Adapted from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1861)

As she applied herself to set the tea-things, Joe peeped down at me over his leg, as if he was mentally casting me and himself up and calculating what kind of pair we practically should make, under the grievous circumstances foreshadowed. After that, he sat feeling his right-side flaxen curls and whisker, and following Mrs. Joe about with his blue eyes, as his manner always was at squally times.

My sister had a trenchant way of cutting our bread and butter for us, that never varied. First, with her left hand she jammed the loaf hard and fast against her bib, where it sometimes got a pin into it and sometimes a needle, which we afterwards got into our mouths. Then, she took some butter (not too much) on a knife and spread it on the loaf, in an apothecary kind of way, as if she were making a plaster.  She used both sides of the knife with a slapping dexterity and trimming and moulding the butter off round the crust. Then, she gave the knife a final smart wipe on the edge of the plaster and then sawed a very thick round off the loaf: which she finally, before separating from the loaf, hewed into two halves, of which Joe got one and I the other.

On the present occasion, though I was hungry, I dared not eat my slice. I felt that I must have something in reserve for my dreadful acquaintance, and his ally the still more dreadful young man. I knew, “Mrs. Joe's housekeeping to be of the strictest kind,” and that my larcenous researches might find nothing available in the safe. Therefore, I resolved to put my hunk of bread and butter down the leg of my trousers.

Which of the following is an acceptable form of the underlined, "herself to set the tea-things"?

Possible Answers:

herself to sit the tea-things

oneself to setting the tea-things

her to set the tea-thing

herself to setting the tea-things

Correct answer:

herself to setting the tea-things

Explanation:

The only acceptable answer is the one that uses the gerund "setting." This describes that to which the subject is applying herself. You need to keep the "herself," which is the reflexive form of the third person pronoun. She is "applying" herself to a task. That task is "the setting of the tea-things." None of the other options are acceptable translations of the general sense of the sentence.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Other Verb Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Had been immersed in the literature since childhood, he maintained an appreciation for it as an adult.

Possible Answers:

He who had been immersed

Having been immersed

Immersion having happened

Had been immersed

Immersion happening

Correct answer:

Having been immersed

Explanation:

The sentence's introductory clause seems to intend to describe the subject "he," but it begins with a verb that doesn't clearly connect to the rest of the sentence and is grammatically incorrect. Introductory clauses can begin with participles, which would make much more sense in this sentence by allowing the start of the sentence to connect clearly to the subject. Of the potential answer choices, only "Having been immersed" omits the incorrect verb and replaces it with a grammatically correct participle. The other answer choices don't make sense: "Immersion having happened" and "Immersion happening" don't clearly connect the first phrase to the subject, and "He who had been immersed" introduces a grammatical error by making the sentence contain two disconnected subjects, "He who had been immersed in the literature since childhood" and "he." The corrected sentence reads, "Having been immersed in the literature since childhood, he maintained an appreciation for it as an adult."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Other Verb Errors

Conflicting desires existing in every single person, and are quite difficult to sort out.

Possible Answers:

Conflicting desires existing in every single person

Conflicting desires exist in every single person

The existence of conflicting desires in every single person

Conflicting desires existence in every single person

The existing of conflicting desires in every single person

Correct answer:

Conflicting desires exist in every single person

Explanation:

The issue in the underlined portion of the sentence is the use of the verb form "existing," which is a participle and not an actual verb. The word needs to be changed into a form that functions as a verb. "Conflicting desires exist in every single person" is the correct choice among the answers.

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