SAT Writing : Correcting Verb Mood Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store varsity tutors amazon store varsity tutors ibooks store

Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Correcting Verb Mood 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 letter describes the young scientist as intelligent and hardworking, and says that he be the most promising researcher currently working in the field of infectious diseases.

Possible Answers:

was

be

will be

would be

is

Correct answer:

is

Explanation:

In this sentence, the phrase “he be the most promising researcher” uses the subjunctive “be"; however, in English, the subjunctive should only be used in a phrase that talks about a desire, wish, or counterfactual statement—not when the phrase reports true facts (or what the person saying the phrase thinks are true facts about the world). In the view of the person who wrote the letter, the young scientist is currently the most promising researcher. So, we should use the verb “is,” which is in the indicative mood. “Is” is also right because it is in the present tense, like the rest of the sentence.

Example Question #11 : Correcting Verb Mood 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.

So that Marie could get additional practice, Marie's tutor recommended that she look at additional practice questions.

Possible Answers:

looks

may look

will look

look

looked

Correct answer:

look

Explanation:

The phrase “Marie's tutor recommended that Marie look” contains the present-tense subjunctive verb “look,” and it is right as it is. This is because the subjunctive mood is used after expressions like “recommend that” and “advise that” to express someone's wishes and desires. “Looks,” “looked,” and “will look” are all in the indicative mood, so they are not correct.

Example Question #13 : Correcting Verb Mood 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 was you, I wouldn't go jogging after dark.

Possible Answers:

were

might be

am

was

would be

Correct answer:

were

Explanation:

This sentence expresses a counterfactual statement, or a statement that does not match the way things are in reality. It is not actually the case that the narrator is the person she is talking to. Counterfactual sentences use subjunctive verbs. So, we need to change the verb “was,” which is in the indicative, to its subjunctive form, “were.”

Example Question #14 : Correcting Verb Mood 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 boss requests that one of his employees stands at the side of the road with a sign to attract more customers to the business.

Possible Answers:

may stand

to stand

stand

stands

ought to stand

Correct answer:

stand

Explanation:

Here, the words “requests that” introduce a phrase that requires the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive is used after phrases like “requires that” or “requests that” to express the wishes and desires of the person doing the requesting. In this sentence, the verb “stands” is in the indicative mood, but it should be changed to its subjunctive form, “stand.”

Example Question #15 : Correcting Verb Mood 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.

His mother wants him to be prepared for the spelling bee; she requires that he studies spelling for two hours every day.

Possible Answers:

must be studying

will study

would study

study

studies

Correct answer:

study

Explanation:

Here, the words “requires that” introduce a phrase that requires the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive is used after phrases like “requires that” or “requests that” to express the wishes and desires of the person doing the requesting. In this sentence, the verb “studies” is in the indicative mood, but it should be changed to its subjunctive form, “study.”

Example Question #16 : Correcting Verb Mood 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.

Bob's mother told me that Bob is very intelligent and that he be committed to studying for at least two hours every day.

Possible Answers:

commit

commit himself

be committed

is committed

being committed

Correct answer:

is committed

Explanation:

This sentence uses the subjunctive verb “be” in the phrase “he be committed”; however, in the way the sentence is written, this phrase was spoken by Bob's mother, who believes it to be true. It's not part of a phrase that expresses any kind of wish, desire, or counterfactual statement. To Bob's mother, the idea that Bob is committed to studying for two hours is a true fact about the world. Therefore, this fact should be expressed using the indicative mood, not the subjunctive. We should change the subjunctive verb “be” to its indicative form, “is.”

Example Question #17 : Correcting Verb Mood 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.

Because it was raining, the students had recess inside the classroom; but, if the weather had been nice, they go outside for recess.

Possible Answers:

go

would have gone

were going

had gone

would go

Correct answer:

would have gone

Explanation:

The second part of this sentence expresses a counterfactual statement. It is describing what might have happened if the weather had been nice; however, we know that in reality, it was raining. Since counterfactual statements use the subjunctive mood, we need to change the indicative verb “go” to a past-tense subjunctive form, “would have gone.” We know that the subjunctive form has to be in the past tense because the conditional is talking about what might have happened in the past.

Example Question #11 : Correcting Verb Mood 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.

Were you to have chosen that restaurant, we would have to dress up.

Possible Answers:

Were you to chose

Was you to choose

Was you to chose

Were you to choose

Were you to have chosen

Correct answer:

Were you to choose

Explanation:

This sentence is an example of the present subjunctive, which is most commonly used in English to express hypothetical situations, wishes, and desires. The correct long form of the sentence is “if you were to choose that restaurant,” and “were you to choose that restaurant” is simply an inversion and shortening of the long form. (“Were you to have chosen that restaurant” is the past subjunctive, which doesn’t match the future conditional form of the second half of the sentence.)

Example Question #18 : Correcting Verb Mood 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.

It is necessary that Danielle knows what time she is being picked up.

Possible Answers:

Danielle knows what time she is being picked up

Danielle knowed what time she is being picked up

Danielle know what time she was being picked up

Danielle known what time she is being picked up

Danielle know what time she is being picked up

Correct answer:

Danielle know what time she is being picked up

Explanation:

The subjunctive verb mood is used when sentences express conditions contrary to fact, or as in this case, in clauses that contain an order or a recommendation. The correct version of this sentence reads: "It is necessary that Danielle know what time she is being picked up."

Example Question #11 : Correcting Verb Mood 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.

I like to think that if I was king, I would be a fair and just ruler.

Possible Answers:

would

were

wasn't

be

was

Correct answer:

were

Explanation:

The word "if" at the beginning of the sentence indicates that the sentence is an indicator that the sentence is in the subjunctive mood. Given that the sentence is subjunctive, the word "was" should be replaced by "were."

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors