SAT Writing : Correcting Verb Tense Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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.

The boys and their father eats the meal in silence.

Possible Answers:

eat

have been ate

eating

was eating

eaten

Correct answer:

eat

Explanation:

Although the verb is next to the singular noun "their father," the subject is actually compound, "The boys and their father," and therefore plural. The correct verb needs to be a plural form. "Eat" is the best choice among the answer choices.

Example Question #31 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The arrangements prevent the groups from developing until they were changed three years ago.

Possible Answers:

The arrangements prevents the groups from developing

The arrangements are preventing the groups from developing

The arrangements prevent the groups from developing

The arrangements preventing the groups from developing 

The arrangements prevented the groups from developing

Correct answer:

The arrangements prevented the groups from developing

Explanation:

The phrase "until they were changed" contains a past tense verb and indicates that the use of the present tense verb "prevent" is incorrect. "Prevent" needs to be changed to the past-tense "prevented" to make the sentence grammatically correct. "The arrangements prevented the groups from developing" is the only answer choice that uses the correct verb tense.

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.

We have always sing anthems that celebrate our nation.

Possible Answers:

always sung

sing always

always sing

sung always

always sang

Correct answer:

always sung

Explanation:

The use of "have," a past-tense helping (auxiliary) verb, makes the verb in the sentence past-tense and perfect. However, "sing," a present-tense verb, completes the signaled past perfect form incorrectly and introduces confusion about the sentence's tense. While we could change the verbs in the sentence in many ways to correct the error, only "always sing" is underlined. This means that we can't alter "have," so we need to change "sing" to "sung" to create a correct past perfect verb ("have . . . sung"). The answer choices "always sing" and "sing always" don't correct the sentence's error. "Always sang" may look potentially correct, but "to sing" is an irregular verb in which "sang" is the past tense and "sung" is used in the perfect tense (Example: "She sang the song yesterday, after she had sung the duet."). "Always sang" can't be the correct answer, then, because it incorrectly constructs the past perfect tense. While "always sung" and "sung always" may each look like a potentially correct answer, "sung always" introduces an awkward word order that "always sung" avoids, so "always sung" is the correct answer, making the corrected sentence, "We have always sung anthems that celebrate our nation."

 

Example Question #82 : 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.

In the nineteenth century, the Transcendentalists are seeking to find solace in the wonders of nature.

Possible Answers:

sought to found

are seeking to have found

seeking to find

sought to find

are seeking to find

Correct answer:

sought to find

Explanation:

The sentence describes what Transcendentalists did "In the nineteenth century." This indicates the underlined portion of the sentence needs to make use of the past tense, because that part of the sentence is describing the actions that took place "In the nineteenth century." Only "seeking" needs to be changed, as the form "to find" is an infinitive, and does not change regardless of the tense of the verb that precedes it. "Sought to find" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #32 : 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 spokesperson noted that over the past year, a new wave of technological advances have increased the company’s profitability.

Possible Answers:

increased the company’s profitability.

will have increased the company’s profitability.

had increased the company’s profitability.

have increased the company’s profitability.

has increased the company’s profitability.

Correct answer:

has increased the company’s profitability.

Explanation:

We know that the proper tense to describe an event that happened "over the course of past year" is the present perfect, which narrows down potentially correct answer choices to either "have increased the company's profitability" or "has increased the company's profitability." 

Since the subject of the increasing event is "wave," not "advances," we should go with the answer choice that uses the singular verb—"has increased the company's profitability."

Example Question #31 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Previously, the candidates refuse to run any negative ads against their opponents.

Possible Answers:

refusing to run

refusal to run

refused to run

refuse to be running

refuse to run

Correct answer:

refused to run

Explanation:

The underlined portion describes what happened "Previously," which indicates the verb has to be in a tense showing what happened before. The correct answer must be in the past tense, and only "refused to run" has the correct tense among the answers.

Example Question #1 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

After Miguel left the store, he had gone to the gas station.

Possible Answers:

After Miguel were to have left the store, he had gone to the gas station.

After Miguel left the store, he went to the gas station.

After Miguel left the store, he will have gone to the gas station.

After Miguel left the store, he had gone to the gas station.

After Miguel was leaving the store, he had gone to the gas station.

Correct answer:

After Miguel left the store, he went to the gas station.

Explanation:

The original sentence uses the pluperfect verb form ("had gone to the gas station") erroneously because the event of going to the gas station happened after Miguel left the store.

Example Question #32 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

If I would have used the coupon, I could have saved forty dollars.

Possible Answers:

If I had used the coupon, I could have saved forty dollars.

If I would have used the coupon, forty dollars could have been saved by me.

If I would have used the coupon, I could have saved forty dollars.

If I will have used the coupon, I could have saved forty dollars.

Forty dollars could have been saved had the coupon I had used.

Correct answer:

If I had used the coupon, I could have saved forty dollars.

Explanation:

One can never say “If I would have done”. One can only say “If I had done”, which is called the past perfect verb form.

Example Question #31 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Many parents mistakenly thinking babies should be on low-fat diets; however, fat is crucial to infants’ brain and nerve development.

Possible Answers:

Many parents mistakenly think babies should be on low-fat diets; however, fat is crucial to infants’ brain and nerve development. 

Many parents mistake and think babies should be on low-fat diets; however, fat is crucial to infants’ brain and nerve development. 

Many parents mistakenly thinking babies should be on low-fat diets; on the other hand, fat is crucial to infants’ brain and nerve development. 

Many parents mistakenly thinking babies should be on low-fat diets; however, fat is crucial to infants’ brain and nerve development.

Many parents mistakenly had thought babies should be on low-fat diets; however, fat is crucial to infants’ brain and nerve development. 

Correct answer:

Many parents mistakenly think babies should be on low-fat diets; however, fat is crucial to infants’ brain and nerve development. 

Explanation:

The word "thinking" is acting like a participle in the original sentence, making the first clause lack a verb. Changing "Many parents mistakenly thinking" to "Many parents mistakenly think" corrects the sentence's error.

Example Question #1 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

When I discovered that my mom hid chocolate bars in her top drawer, I take them all and ate them.

Possible Answers:

When I made the discovery that my mom hid chocolate bars in her top drawer, I was taking them all and ate them. 

When I discovered that my mom hid chocolate bars in her top drawer, I took and ate them all.  

When I was discovering that my mom hid in her top drawer chocolate bars, I took them all and ate them all. 

When I discovered that my mom hid chocolate bars in her top drawer, I take them all and ate them.

When I discovered that my mom hid chocolate bars in her top drawer, I had taken them all and eaten them. 

Correct answer:

When I discovered that my mom hid chocolate bars in her top drawer, I took and ate them all.  

Explanation:

The original statement uses the wrong verb tense for the verb "take"; it should be "took". The correct answer is also more concise than the original.

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