SAT Writing : Identifying Verb Tense Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #4 : Identifying Verb Tense Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Although he had never taken piano lessons, anytime that Jeff, who was unusually intelligent, sees a piano, he was able to play a song. No error

Possible Answers:

who was

sees

Although

No error

able to play

Correct answer:

sees

Explanation:

The entire sentence refers to the past, as we can tell from the verb "was" in "who was unusually intelligent" and the verb "was" in "was able to play." Therefore, the verb "sees" should be in the past tense like the rest of the verbs in the sentence. To correct the sentence's error, we would need to change "sees" to "saw."

Example Question #8 : Identifying Verb Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The revolutionary, having been the subject of abuse during his childhood, emphatically lead the uprising, fueled by both a desire for social justice, as well as a certain anger that he himself did not entirely understand. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

lead

having been 

fueled by both

he himself

Correct answer:

lead

Explanation:

"Lead" is in the present tense. Given that the rest of the sentence is in the past tense, this verb should also be in the past tense. Therefore, it should be "led," not "lead."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Verb Tense Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

As soon as I booked my flight to visit my friends in New York, I am finding that all the prices for plane tickets were plummeting. No error

Possible Answers:

to 

As soon as

prices for

No error

I am finding

Correct answer:

I am finding

Explanation:

This sentence written in the past tense, except for the phrase “I am finding.” In order to maintain proper verb tense, the underlined portion should be changed to “I found.”

Example Question #2 : Identifying Verb Tense Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

While most species of monkeys live in tropical areas, there is a type of monkey that lives in northern Japan, where it has snowed.  No error

Possible Answers:

most

has snowed

in 

there is

No error

Correct answer:

has snowed

Explanation:

Given that the rest of the sentence is in present tense, the underlined portion should be as well. "Has snowed" should be replaced by "snows."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Verb Tense Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

When David cooks, he uses a variety of spices and put the flame on very high, creating flavorful and charred dishes. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

creating

put

very high

he uses

Correct answer:

put

Explanation:

Since most of this sentence is in the present tense, it is incorrect for other verbs to be in a different tense, as a general rule. Therefore, “put,” which is in past tense, should be “puts,” the proper present tense form. 

Example Question #3 : Identifying Verb Tense Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

After several hours of futile research, Paco decided to then take a break before he would resume his search for pertinent data once again. No error

Possible Answers:

pertinent 

No error

would

futile

then

Correct answer:

then

Explanation:

The infinitive verb “to take” should not be split by the word “then.” If you wanted to keep the "then" in the sentence but not split the infinitive, you might place it after "Paco" and before "decided."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Verb Tense Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Christine had difficulty finding a job despite having been the valedictorian of her university’s graduating class. No error

Possible Answers:

difficulty

having been

of her university's graduating class

finding a job 

No error

Correct answer:

No error

Explanation:

This sentence contains no grammatical, stylistic, or usage errors.

Example Question #5 : Identifying Verb Tense Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Next time, I plan to look over my composition quick for faults before I turn it in to my professor. No error

Possible Answers:

in to

composition

No error 

faults

quick

Correct answer:

quick

Explanation:

"Quick" is an adjective and is being used to describe "look over," a verb. Adjectives cannot be used to describe verbs; adverbs describe verbs. So, "quick" needs to be changed to "quickly" for the sentence to be correct.

Example Question #6 : Identifying Verb Tense Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

People who hate the pollution emitted by cities also tend to have despised the large companies that create the pollution. No error

Possible Answers:

also 

have despised

who 

No error

that create

Correct answer:

have despised

Explanation:

Since most of this sentence is in the present tense, it is incorrect for other verbs to be in a different tense, as a general rule. Therefore, “have despised” should be changed to the present tense “despise.”

Example Question #7 : Identifying Verb Tense Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The dentist was frustrated that his patient had developed another set of cavities because he told her to brush her teeth more frequently, and she doesn’t. No error

 

Possible Answers:

more frequently 

No error

doesn't

had developed

was

Correct answer:

doesn't

Explanation:

Since most of this sentence is in the past tense, it is incorrect for other verbs to be in a different tense, as a general rule. Therefore, “doesn’t” should be replaced by the past tense “didn’t.”

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