SAT Writing : Correcting Verb Tense Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Correcting Verb Tense Errors

In contrast to his father he had an impetuous streak that often got him into trouble.

Possible Answers:

In contrast to his father, he had 

In contrast to his father he had 

In contrast, to his father he had 

In contrast, to his father, he had 

In contrast to his father he has

Correct answer:

In contrast to his father, he had 

Explanation:

The phrase "In contrast to his father" is an introductory clause, which is not essential to the structure of the sentence but conditions its meaning. Introductory phrases must always be set apart from the rest of the sentence by a comma; therefore, "In contrast to his father, he had" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #11 : Correcting Verb Tense Errors

Traffic problems have been plagued the city for decades.

Possible Answers:

plaguing have been

have been plagued

have plaguing

have plague

have plagued

Correct answer:

have plagued

Explanation:

The use of "been" with the past tense verb "plagued" is awkward and incorrect in the sentence. Either the use of a form of "be" should be removed or the past tense should be changed; therefore "have plagued" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #61 : Correcting Verb Errors

The tallest boys on the team were always tasked with playing near the rim, no matter how skilled they are at the game.

Possible Answers:

 not mattering how skilled they are at the game.

 no matter how skillful they are at the game. 

 no matter how skilled they were at the game.

 no matter how skilled they are at the game.

 no matter how skilled they having been at a game.

Correct answer:

 no matter how skilled they were at the game.

Explanation:

The use of the verb "are," a present tense verb, to describe actions already placed in the past by the use of the verb "were" is confusing and improper. To correct this, the verbs should be made to match; therefore, the correct answer is "no matter how skilled they were at the game."

Example Question #11 : Correcting Verb Tense Errors

While the opposing army sleeps, the general had his troops take positions to make a surprise attack.

Possible Answers:

While the opposing army slept,

The opposing army slept,

While the opposing army sleeps,

While the opposing army sleeping,

The opposing army sleeps,

Correct answer:

While the opposing army slept,

Explanation:

The non-underlined portion of the sentence uses a past tense verb, "took," to describe the general's actions; therefore, the verb in the underlined portion needs to paralllel the form of "took." The correct answer is "While the opposing army slept," as it is the only grammatically correct choice in the past tense.

Example Question #21 : Correcting Verb Tense Errors

The boys fighting every single day for the past three weeks.

Possible Answers:

The boys were fighting every single day for the past three weeks.

The boys fighting for every single day for the past three weeks.

The boys fighting, every single day for the past three weeks.

The boys fighting every single day for the past three weeks.

The boy's fighting every single day for the past three weeks.

Correct answer:

The boys were fighting every single day for the past three weeks.

Explanation:

The use of "fighting," a participle form, in the sentence makes the sentence not have a proper verb. To be a functional verb, the participle must be used with some form of the verb "to be." The only answer choice that does this is "The boys were fighting every single day for the past three weeks."

Example Question #92 : 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 boy was unlike his brothers, as he has a strong artistic side to his personality.

Possible Answers:

as he has got a strong artistic side to his personality.

as he has a strong artistic side to his personality.

as he had a strong artistic side to his personality.

as he have a strong artistic side to his personality.

as he having a strong artistic side to his personality.

Correct answer:

as he had a strong artistic side to his personality.

Explanation:

The non-underlined portion of the sentence, which is the main body, contains a past tense verb, "was." This means that the underlined portion, a dependent clause, must use the past tense as well. As it is written, the sentence currently contains a present tense verb, "has." The only answer choice that fixes this issue is "as he had a strong artistic side to his personality."

Example Question #21 : 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 novel was a long rambling mess that often confuse readers.

Possible Answers:

The novel was a long rambling mess that often confuse readers.

The novel was a long rambling mess that often confuses readers.

The novel was a long rambling mess that often was confuse readers.

The novel was a long rambling mess that often confusing readers.

The novel was a long rambling mess that often confused readers.

Correct answer:

The novel was a long rambling mess that often confused readers.

Explanation:

The use of "confuse" is incorrect, as it is a present tense, plural verb. As the subject of the sentence, "novel," is singular, and the main verb of the sentence, "was," is in past tense, so "confuse" should take on a past tense, singular form. The only answer choice featuring such a form is "The novel was a long rambling mess that often confused readers."

Example Question #41 : 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 fastest of all the runners receive a special commemorative trophy.

Possible Answers:

The fastest of all the runners receives

The fastest of all runners receive

The fastest of all the runners receive

The fastest of any of the runners receive

The fastest of all the runners receiving

Correct answer:

The fastest of all the runners receives

Explanation:

The use of the plural verb "receive" is incorrect. Even though the verb is next to the plural "runners," it refers to the singular subject, "fastest." The verb needs to be changed to be in agreement with the subject of the sentence. "The fastest of all the runners receives" is the only answer choice that does this, so it is the correct answer.

Example Question #1535 : Act English

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 the first half of the show, no performers said any words, but remain completely silent throughout.

Possible Answers:

but remaining completely silent throughout.

but remain completely silent throughout.

but remained completely silent throughout.

but remains completely silent throughout.

but remain completely silent through it.

Correct answer:

but remained completely silent throughout.

Explanation:

The underlined portion of the sentence includes a present tense verb, "remain," while the non-underlined portion of the sentence includes a past tense verb, "said." The two verbs must be in the same tense, as they describe action taking place at the same time. The only answer choice that corrects this issue is "but remained completely silent throughout."

Example Question #41 : 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 party ended, the two talk for hours and hours, staying up until dawn.

Possible Answers:

the two talk for hours and hours, staying up until dawn.

the two talk for hours and hours, stays up until dawn.

the two talk for hours and hours, stay up until dawn.

the two talk for hours and hours staying up until dawn.

the two talked for hours and hours, staying up until dawn.

Correct answer:

the two talked for hours and hours, staying up until dawn.

Explanation:

The use of the present tense verb "talk" goes against the introductory clause in the sentence, which places the sentence's action in the past. The main verb of the sentence needs to be in the past tense. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "the two talked for hours and hours, staying up until dawn."

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