GMAT Verbal : Correcting Verb Tense Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Correcting Verb Tense 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.

Shortly after their first expeditions to the region, the Spanish initiated a number of attempts to subjugate the Maya, but it takes some 170 years before the Spanish established substantive control over all Maya lands.

Possible Answers:

but it took some 170 years

but it takes some 170 years

but it was going to take some 170 years

but they took some 170 years

but they would take some 170 years

Correct answer:

but it took some 170 years

Explanation:

This correct answer uses the right verb tense. It also refers to the correct (singular) subject of the sentence.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Verb Tense 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.

Recent historians have begun to reevaluate the career of General William Tecumseh Sherman, paint him as a war criminal and a monstrous villain.

Possible Answers:

painting him as a war criminal and a monstrous villain.

paint him as a war criminal and a monstrous villain.

paint him for a war criminal and a monstrous villain.

paints him as a war criminal and a monstrous villain.

paint him as the war criminal and the monstrous villain.

Correct answer:

painting him as a war criminal and a monstrous villain.

Explanation:

The use of the verb "paint" as the first word in the final phrase is incorrect, as it needs to be a present progressive verb, "painting," to correctly describe the action continuing after the present perfect "have begun." The only answer choice that uses the correct verb form is "painting him as a war criminal and a monstrous villain," making it the correct answer.

Example Question #3 : Correcting Verb Tense 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.

The new regulations are largely meant to curtail small-scale corruption, but the loopholes present in the law created a sharp increase in white collar crime.

Possible Answers:

The new regulations are largely meaning to curtail small scale corruption

The new regulations largely meant to curtail small scale corruption

The new regulations are largely meant for curtailing small scale corruption

The new regulations were largely meant to curtail small scale corruption

The new regulations are largely meant to curtail small scale corruption

Correct answer:

The new regulations were largely meant to curtail small scale corruption

Explanation:

The verb in the second part of the sentence, "created," is in the past tense, but the verb in the underlined portion, "are," is in the present tense. The verbs in a compound sentence must always be in the same tense. "The new regulations were largely meant to curtail small scale corruption" is the only answer choice that correctly fixes the problem.

Example Question #51 : Correcting 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.

Very few politicians are willing to make a promise to eliminate social safety net programs, which made the congressman a rarity in Washington.

Possible Answers:

which making the congressman a rarity in Washington.

which having made the congressman a rarity in Washington.

which makes the congressman a rarity in Washington.

which made the congressman a rarity in Washington.

which had made the congressman a rarity in Washington.

Correct answer:

which makes the congressman a rarity in Washington.

Explanation:

The underlined portion of the sentence uses a past tense verb, "made," even though the previous, non-underlined portion of the sentence uses the present tense form "are." The underlined portion needs to be changed so that the two verbs in the sentence agree. The only answer choice which correctly changes the verb is "which makes the congressman a rarity in Washington."

Example Question #52 : Correcting 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.

Finding new evidence in unpublished journals, the historian produced research that greatly reshaped the way the academy thinking about the Civil War.

Possible Answers:

the way the academy can think about the Civil War.

the way the academy thinks about the Civil War.

the way the academy was thinking about the Civil War.

the way the academy will be thinking about the Civil War.

the way the academy thinking about the Civil War.

Correct answer:

the way the academy thinks about the Civil War.

Explanation:

The use of the gerundive "thinking" is incorrect, as it means there is no verb, as a gerund is a verb form that functions as a noun. While all of the answer choices change the verb, the best change is to make it a simple present tense verb. The only answer choice which makes this change is "the way the academy thinks about the Civil War."

Example Question #53 : Correcting 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.

The students grew increasingly confused by the professor's lecture, which is covering material that the students were completely unfamiliar with from their readings.

Possible Answers:

which will cover material that the students

which covered material that the students

that is covering material which the students

which is covering material for the students

which is covering material that the students

Correct answer:

which covered material that the students

Explanation:

The underlined portion of the sentence uses the present participle verb form "is covering" incorrectly, as the first part of the sentence clearly shows the lecture as taking place in the past. The verb needs to be changed to a past tense form to match "grew" and "confused" from the earlier part of the sentence. The only answer choice that makes this change, "which covered material that the students," is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #54 : Correcting Verb Errors

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

Boswell described his conversations with Dr. Johnson and writes that Johnson's wit was unparalleled. 

Possible Answers:

Dr. Johnson and has written

Dr. Johnson and says that

Dr. Johnson and asserts that

Dr. Johnson and wrote that

Dr. Johnson: claiming that

Correct answer:

Dr. Johnson and wrote that

Explanation:

The example sentence features a verb tense error. Since "described" is in the past tense and the writing Boswell did about Johnson contains descriptions of Johnson, the verb "writing" should agree with the tense of "described." Replacing the underlined section with "and wrote that" is the correct answer.

While "asserts" and "says" are both potentially correct verbs to insert, those options were in the present tense, and thus would be incorrect in this context. 

The phrase "and has written" would need to be a separate clause, and would require a comma preceding it to be correct.

Example Question #4 : Correcting Verb Tense 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.

Working closely with the leaders of a wide range of businesses, the organization provides opportunities that are not open to young entrepreneurs in previous decades.

Possible Answers:

the organization provides opportunities that have not open

the organization provides opportunities that are not open

the organization provides opportunities that can not open

the organization provides opportunities that is not open

the organization provides opportunities that were not open

Correct answer:

the organization provides opportunities that were not open

Explanation:

The phrasing of the sentence ("in previous decades") indicates that these were past "opportunities" that are presently available. This means that the present tense verb "are" in the underlined portion of the sentence needs to be changed to a past tense verb. Only one answer choice makes this change, "the organization provides opportunities that were not open," making it the correct answer choice.

Example Question #5 : Correcting Verb Tense Errors

In a prolonged effort to curb abuses, the governments reduce the amount in bonuses for arrests.

Possible Answers:

the governments reduce

the governments to reduce

the governments reduces

the governments reduced

the governments reduction

Correct answer:

the governments reduced

Explanation:

The opening clause of the sentence notes a "prolonged effort," which indicates the government action has taken place over a long time period. The proper verb will either be in the past tense or show a long amount of time. "The governments reduced" is the best choice among the answers.

Example Question #1845 : Sat Writing

Celebrations begun in the school after it was announced they had won the championship.

Possible Answers:

begun by the school

began the school

begun in the school

began in the school

begin the school

Correct answer:

began in the school

Explanation:

The underlined section of the sentence contains both a verb and a preposition, but the only issue lies in the present tense verb. The use of time in the sentence, "after they found out," indicates the celebrations took place in the past. "Began in the school," is the correct answer choice.

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