SAT Writing : Correcting Verb Tense Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #1191 : Correcting Grammatical 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 new recruit made enough mistakes in basic training that the sergeant believes he would never become a good soldier.

Possible Answers:

that the sergeant believes he would never  

that the sergeant believing he would never 

that the sergeant believes he would not ever

that the sergeant believed he would never 

that that sergeant believes he would never 

Correct answer:

that the sergeant believed he would never 

Explanation:

The use of the present tense verb "believes" in the underlined portion of the sentence is at odds with the main verb of the sentence, "made," which is in the past tense. "Believes" needs to be changed to the past tense form, making "that the sergeant believed he would never" the correct answer choice.

Example Question #751 : Sentence Correction

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.

 

Even though Georgie was grown up, all of the adults kept calling him by his childhood nickname, which made him so angry that his blood was boiling.

Possible Answers:

which made him so angry that his blood boil.

which will make him so angry that his blood was boiling.

which made him so angry that his blood boiled.

which made him so angry that his boiling blood.

which made him so angry that was blood boiled.

Correct answer:

which made him so angry that his blood boiled.

Explanation:

The sentence calls for the past tense of the verb "to boil" because it uses other past-tense verbs (like "made") to describe the action taking place.

Example Question #1539 : 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.

 

The mystery only deepens after the new evidence came to light three years ago.

Possible Answers:

The mystery only deepens after new evidence

The mystery only deepens after the newer evidence

The mystery only deepens after the new evidence

The mystery only deepened after the new evidence

The mystery only deepens after a new evidence

Correct answer:

The mystery only deepened after the new evidence

Explanation:

The phrase "three years ago" indicates that the action of the sentence's action happened in the past. Despite this, the sentence is written with the present tense verb "deepens," leading to confusion with the timing of the sentence. "The mystery only deepened after the new evidence" is the only answer choice that features a past tense verb, so it is the only answer choice that clears up this confusion.

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 team had to work through the night cleared debris from the wreckage site.

Possible Answers:

through the night cleared debris from the wreckage's site.

through the night cleared debris from the wreckage site.

through the night cleared debris' from the wreckage site.

through the night clearing debris from the wreckage site.

through the night cleared debris at the wreckage site.

Correct answer:

through the night clearing debris from the wreckage site.

Explanation:

The use of the past tense verb "cleared" in the sentence is confusing and incorrect. "Cleared" is not the main verb in the sentence, and should take some other verbal form. Using the gerund, or a verb form that functions as a noun, the correct answer choice is "through the night clearing debris from the wreckage site."

Example Question #1861 : Sat Writing

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 ancient Romans create a large network of paved roads that revolutionized travel in the ancient Mediterranean.

Possible Answers:

The ancient Romans creates a large network of paved roads

The ancient Romans creating a large network of paved roads

The ancient Romans create large network of paved roads

The ancient Romans created a large network of paved roads

The ancient Romans create a large network of paved roads

Correct answer:

The ancient Romans created a large network of paved roads

Explanation:

The use of the present tense verb "create" is odd in this sentence, as the verb in the dependent clause is a past tense verb, "revolutionized." The two verbs should be in the same tense for the sentence to be logically correct. "The ancient Romans created a large network of paved roads" is the only answer choice to use the correct verb.

Example Question #1542 : 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.

The commander was horribly rude to his underlings, cause dissension in the ranks.

Possible Answers:

The commander horribly rude to his underlings, cause dissension in the ranks.

The commander was horribly rude to his underlings, causing dissension in the ranks.

The commander was horribly rude to his underlings, cause dissension in the ranks.

The commander was horribly rude on his underlings, cause dissension in the ranks.

The commander was horribly rude to his underlings cause dissension in the ranks.

Correct answer:

The commander was horribly rude to his underlings, causing dissension in the ranks.

Explanation:

The use of "cause" to connect the dependent clause to the independent clause is confusing and incorrect. A partciple form, which can make the phrase a partcipal clause, would properly connect the action of the verb to the subject of the sentence. The only answer choice which properly uses the participle to make the dependent clause a grammatically correct participial clause is "The commander was horribly rude to his underlings, causing dissension in the ranks."

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.

Tomorrow after I finish my last exam I have finished high school.

Possible Answers:

I have not

I would have had

I will have

I would have

I have

Correct answer:

I will have

Explanation:

Because the event happens "tomorrow," in the future, the future tense needs to be used. "I have" is present tense, so changing "I have" to "I will have" changes it to the correct future tense.

Example Question #21 : Correcting 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.

I have no reason to suspect that Matt is lying to me, but I still could not shake the feeling that he is deceiving me. No error

Possible Answers:

me

that

No error

reason

could

Correct answer:

could

Explanation:

The sentence uses present tense verbs, so "could not" must be present tense as well— that is, "cannot." Remember to check that verb tenses coordinate in a sentence!

Example Question #81 : 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 repeats the underlined portion as it is written.

Parents often name their children after relatives, but uncommon names become popular in recent years.

Possible Answers:

popular have become

become popular

popular they have become

have become popular

becoming popular

Correct answer:

have become popular

Explanation:

The underlined words make up an incomplete verb phrase, as the verb "become" is in the wrong form. They appropriate version of "become" is the perfect tense, which indicates what has already happened. "Have become popular" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #1871 : Sat Writing

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 repeats the underlined portion as it is written.

Problematically, the soldier had backs himself into a corner from which he could not escape.

Possible Answers:

had back him

had backed himself

had backed him

backed him

had backs himself

Correct answer:

had backed himself

Explanation:

The sentence describes what the soldier had already done to his own body. The use of "himself" is correct and necessary to show who the action was done to, but the action occurred in the past, meaning the appropriate verb form is "backed." The correct answer choice is "had backed himself."

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