PSAT Writing : Correcting Verb Tense Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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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.

Before he signed up for the arctic expedition in July, Robert had been researching cold-weather survival techniques and deciding that he might have a chance.

Possible Answers:

researched cold-weather survival techniques and had been deciding that

had researched cold-weather survival techniques and decided that

researched cold-weather survival techniques and deciding that

had to research cold-weather survival techniques and to decide that

had been researching cold-weather survival techniques and deciding that

Correct answer:

had researched cold-weather survival techniques and decided that

Explanation:

The problem with this sentence is in the tenses of the verbs. Each answer choice uses a different combination of past tenses, infinitives, and "-ing" verbs. Since each event happens at a specific point in the past, no "-ing" verbs or infinitives are needed. The correct answer is correct because it uses “had researched” to show that Robert researched cold-weather survival techniques before he decided or signed up.

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.

The little girl looked around the yard timidly, had being extremely embarrassed by her fall from the scooter. 

Possible Answers:

had been extremely embarrassed

extremely embarrassed

she was extremely embarrassed

been extremely embarrassed

she had been extremely embarrassed

Correct answer:

extremely embarrassed

Explanation:

Since there is a comma separating the clauses, “extremely embarrassed” is the only answer choice that corrects the sentence's error. “She had been” and “she was” could work if the comma were a period, but it is not, so these answer choices are incorrect.

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.

Over the past few years, breakthroughs in navigational technology almost completely rendered paper maps obsolete.

Possible Answers:

almost completely has rendered paper maps obsolete

has almost completely rendered paper maps obsolete

have almost completely rendered paper maps obsolete

has managed to almost completely render paper maps obsolete

almost completely rendered paper maps obsolete

Correct answer:

have almost completely rendered paper maps obsolete

Explanation:

The original text contains a tense error. It uses the simple past to describe an event that we are told took place "over the past few years." The appropriate tense to describe an event in this context is present perfect. 

Answer choices "has almost completely rendered paper maps obsolete," "almost completely has rendered paper maps obsolete," "has managed to almost completely render paper maps obsolete,", and "have almost completely rendered paper maps obsolete" contain forms of the present perfect, but of these, only answer choice "have almost completely rendered paper maps obsolete" correctly uses the plural form to match the plural subject "breakthroughs."

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.

The little boy was nervous about going to the farm because he had never rode a horse before.

Possible Answers:

because he had never rode a horse before. 

because he had not ever rode a horse before.

because he has never ridden a horse before.

because he is never ridden a horse before.

because he has never rode a horse before.

Correct answer:

because he has never ridden a horse before.

Explanation:

The past participle of the verb “to ride” is “ridden.” “Rode” is the simple past tense.

Example Question #65 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

After Miguel left the store, he had gone to the gas station.

Possible Answers:

After Miguel was leaving the store, he had gone to the gas station.

After Miguel left the store, he went to the gas station.

After Miguel left the store, he will have gone to the gas station.

After Miguel left the store, he had gone to the gas station.

After Miguel were to have left the store, he had gone to the gas station.

Correct answer:

After Miguel left the store, he went to the gas station.

Explanation:

The original sentence uses the pluperfect verb form ("had gone to the gas station") erroneously because the event of going to the gas station happened after Miguel left the store.

Example Question #66 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

If I would have used the coupon, I could have saved forty dollars.

Possible Answers:

If I had used the coupon, I could have saved forty dollars.

If I will have used the coupon, I could have saved forty dollars.

If I would have used the coupon, I could have saved forty dollars.

Forty dollars could have been saved had the coupon I had used.

If I would have used the coupon, forty dollars could have been saved by me.

Correct answer:

If I had used the coupon, I could have saved forty dollars.

Explanation:

One can never say “If I would have done”. One can only say “If I had done”, which is called the past perfect verb form.

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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Many parents mistakenly thinking babies should be on low-fat diets; however, fat is crucial to infants’ brain and nerve development.

Possible Answers:

Many parents mistake and think babies should be on low-fat diets; however, fat is crucial to infants’ brain and nerve development. 

Many parents mistakenly think babies should be on low-fat diets; however, fat is crucial to infants’ brain and nerve development. 

Many parents mistakenly thinking babies should be on low-fat diets; on the other hand, fat is crucial to infants’ brain and nerve development. 

Many parents mistakenly thinking babies should be on low-fat diets; however, fat is crucial to infants’ brain and nerve development.

Many parents mistakenly had thought babies should be on low-fat diets; however, fat is crucial to infants’ brain and nerve development. 

Correct answer:

Many parents mistakenly think babies should be on low-fat diets; however, fat is crucial to infants’ brain and nerve development. 

Explanation:

The word "thinking" is acting like a participle in the original sentence, making the first clause lack a verb. Changing "Many parents mistakenly thinking" to "Many parents mistakenly think" corrects the sentence's error.

Example Question #68 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

When I discovered that my mom hid chocolate bars in her top drawer, I take them all and ate them.

Possible Answers:

When I discovered that my mom hid chocolate bars in her top drawer, I took and ate them all.  

When I made the discovery that my mom hid chocolate bars in her top drawer, I was taking them all and ate them. 

When I was discovering that my mom hid in her top drawer chocolate bars, I took them all and ate them all. 

When I discovered that my mom hid chocolate bars in her top drawer, I had taken them all and eaten them. 

When I discovered that my mom hid chocolate bars in her top drawer, I take them all and ate them.

Correct answer:

When I discovered that my mom hid chocolate bars in her top drawer, I took and ate them all.  

Explanation:

The original statement uses the wrong verb tense for the verb "take"; it should be "took". The correct answer is also more concise than the original.

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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Until recently, scientists were believing that squids of giant size were only a myth of the creation of sailors.

Possible Answers:

Until recent times, it was believed by scientists that sailors created giants squids in their myths that they told. 

Until recently, scientists were believing that squids of giant size were only a myth of the creation of sailors.

Until recently, sailors were creating a myth of giants squids, of which scientists believed. 

Until recently, scientists believed that giant squids were only a myth created by sailors. 

Until most recently, scientists were of the belief that giants squids, a myth, created by sailors.

Correct answer:

Until recently, scientists believed that giant squids were only a myth created by sailors. 

Explanation:

The original statement erroneously uses the past progressive verb tense "were believing" instead of "believed." The correct answer is also less awkward and more concise than the original.

Example Question #7 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The students were shocked learning of their teacher's past life as a rock musician.

Possible Answers:

were shocking learning

were shocked to learn

were shocking to learn

were shocking to learn

were shocked learning

Correct answer:

were shocked to learn

Explanation:

The use of the verb "learn" is essentially as a modifier of the students "shock." This means that "learning" must be turned into a form that will describe why the students were "shocked." "Were shocked to learn," using an infinitive form, is the best choice among the answers.

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