PSAT Writing : Correcting Verb Voice Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : 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.

Early this morning, a purple bicycle was discovered by the old oak tree

Possible Answers:

a purple bicycle was discovered by the old oak tree

the old oak tree discovered a purple bicycle

someone found a purple bicycle near the old oak tree

a purple bicycle was discovered near the old oak tree

a purple bicycle by the old oak tree was discovered

Correct answer:

someone found a purple bicycle near the old oak tree

Explanation:

The active voice, which requires an agent (a “doer”), is preferred to the passive voice on the SAT exam. Also, the sentence presents a logical problem, as it does not clearly indicate whether the old oak tree discovered the bicycle or someone or something else did.

Example Question #1 : 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.

Scenes from daily life were painted by the French Impressionists, in a break with their predecessors.

Possible Answers:

The French Impressionists’ scenes from daily life were painted in a break with their predecessors.

Scenes from daily life were painted by the French Impressionists, in a break with their predecessors.

Breaking from their predecessors, scenes from daily life were painted by the French Impressionists.

The French Impressionists broke from their predecessors who painted scenes from daily life.

In a break with their predecessors, the French Impressionists painted scenes from daily life.

Correct answer:

In a break with their predecessors, the French Impressionists painted scenes from daily life.

Explanation:

The initial sentence is in passive voice. The correct answer conveys the proper meaning while changing it to active voice.

Example Question #2 : 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.

Very few animals in the world were actually able to domesticate by human beings.

Possible Answers:

to be domesticating

to domesticating

to be domesticated

to domesticated

to domesticate

Correct answer:

to be domesticated

Explanation:

The central problem with the underlined words in the sentence is that the animals seem to be the ones doing the domesticating—at least until the reader gets to the phrase "by human beings," and the sentence becomes confusing. The underlined words need to convey that human beings are the ones doing the domesticating, and that the animals are the objects of that domestication. Since "Very few animals in the world" is the subject of the sentence and cannot be changed here, we need to use the passive voice to describe that domestication is the thing being done to the animals. "To be domesticated" is the correct answer choice, as it is the only answer that correctly uses passive voice and avoids introducing additional errors (like "to be domesticating," which uses present progressive tense unnecessarily and doesn't agree with the previous past-tense verb "were . . . able."

Example Question #4 : 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.

Sharks have been found by marine biologists in waters much farther north than their previous habitats.

Possible Answers:

Marine biologists have found sharks in waters much farther north

Marine biologists have been finding sharks in waters much farther north

Marine biologists, in waters much farther north, have found sharks

Sharks have been found by marine biologists in waters much farther north

Sharks have been found in waters by marine biologists much farther north

Correct answer:

Marine biologists have found sharks in waters much farther north

Explanation:

The problem with the original sentence is that it is passive. It is often more direct and therefore better to use the subject who does the action as the subject of the sentence. The other answer choices that fix the passive problem either confuse the verb tense or the word order.

Example Question #8 : 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.

The nation’s economy was growing rapidly for reasons having to do with booming foreign investment following the discovery of vast natural resources.

Possible Answers:

since the discovery of vast natural resources is what can cause a boom in foreign investment.

because a boom in foreign investment was what followed the discovery of vast natural resources.

as a result of booming foreign investment following the discovery of vast natural resources.

because the discovery of vast natural resources led to a boom in foreign investment.

for reasons having to do with booming foreign investment following the discovery of vast natural resources.

Correct answer:

because the discovery of vast natural resources led to a boom in foreign investment.

Explanation:

The initial sentence is wordy and in passive voice. The correct answer is concise and active.

Example Question #9 : 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.

For his service in the war, the soldier was giving the country's highest honor by the President.

Possible Answers:

the soldier was giving that country's highest honor

the soldier was given the country's highest honor

the soldier was giving the country's highest honor

the soldier is giving the country's highest honor

the soldier was given the countries highest honor

Correct answer:

the soldier was given the country's highest honor

Explanation:

The soldier would have trouble "giving" an award "by the President." The use of the final prepositional phrase "by the President" indicates that the soldier is receiving the award. The only answer choice that clarifies this point is "the soldier was given the country's highest honor," making it the correct answer choice.

Example Question #3 : Correcting Verb Errors

Select the answer that produces the most effective sentence, one that is clear and exact, without awkwardness or ambiguity.

Hearing about the crisis in the developing country, a campaign was organized by the class president and raised $5,000.

Possible Answers:

a campaign that raised $5,000 was organized by the class president.

an organized campaign by the class president raised $5,000.

a campaign was organized by the class president and raised $5,000.

the class president organized a campaign raising $5000.

the class president organized a campaign, which raised $5,000.

Correct answer:

the class president organized a campaign, which raised $5,000.

Explanation:

Figure out who is the subject of the first part of the sentence—the class president, rather than the campaign itself, heard about the crisis. Also, avoid passive voice ("the campaign was organized").

Example Question #6 : 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.

After the novelist threw the draft into the trash, the crumpled paper was retrieved by his concerned assistant.

Possible Answers:

the crumpled paper had been retrieved by his concerned assistant.

his concerned assistant, retrieving the crumpled paper.

the crumpled paper was retrieved by his concerned assistant.

retrieved by his concerned assistant, who crumpled the paper.

his concerned assistant retrieved the crumpled paper.

Correct answer:

his concerned assistant retrieved the crumpled paper.

Explanation:

Avoid the passive voice of the original ("the crumbled paper was retrieved") and choose the simplest answer that preserves the original meaning of the text.

Example Question #96 : Improving Sentences

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 new boss was eagerly anticipating by the employees, because no one in the office knew what to expect.

Possible Answers:

was anticipating eagerly

eagerly anticipated

was eagerly anticipating

was eager anticipation

was eagerly anticipated

Correct answer:

was eagerly anticipated

Explanation:

The context of the underlined phrase show it is actually a use of the passive voice, with the anticipation done "by the employees," not the new boss. Thus, the correct answer must feature a passive construction. "Was eagerly anticipated" is the best choice among the answers.

Example Question #97 : Improving Sentences

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 ancient texts are often confused to people who do not understand their full context.

Possible Answers:

are often confusing

are often confused

are confused often

often are confused

confusing often are

Correct answer:

are often confusing

Explanation:

The sentence is written as to make the texts be "confused," when the latter part of the sentence makes clear the people reading them are "confused." The word needs to be changed to a form that properly conveys this. "Are often confusing" is the best choice among the answers.

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