SAT Writing : Correcting Verb Tense Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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.

Until recently, scientists were believing that squids of giant size were only a myth of the creation of sailors.

Possible Answers:

Until recently, sailors were creating a myth of giants squids, of which scientists believed. 

Until recently, scientists were believing that squids of giant size were only a myth of the creation of sailors.

Until recently, scientists believed that giant squids were only a myth created by sailors. 

Until recent times, it was believed by scientists that sailors created giants squids in their myths that they told. 

Until most recently, scientists were of the belief that giants squids, a myth, created by sailors.

Correct answer:

Until recently, scientists believed that giant squids were only a myth created by sailors. 

Explanation:

The original statement erroneously uses the past progressive verb tense "were believing" instead of "believed." The correct answer is also less awkward and more concise than the original.

Example Question #122 : 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 students were shocked learning of their teacher's past life as a rock musician.

Possible Answers:

were shocking learning

were shocking to learn

were shocked to learn

were shocking to learn

were shocked learning

Correct answer:

were shocked to learn

Explanation:

The use of the verb "learn" is essentially as a modifier of the students "shock." This means that "learning" must be turned into a form that will describe why the students were "shocked." "Were shocked to learn," using an infinitive form, is the best choice among the answers.

Example Question #11 : 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 she arrives empty handed, I was angry with her.

Possible Answers:

I am angry

I anger

I will be angry

I was angry

I had been angry

Correct answer:

I will be angry

Explanation:

The sentence features a conditional statement, "If she arrives empty handed," that explains the underlined portion of the sentence. This means the verb tense in the underlined portion should be in the future, as it will only occur once another action has taken place. "I will be angry," is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #41 : 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.

"Victoria" is a name that sounds throughout history since the nineteenth century.

Possible Answers:

has sounded throughout history

sounds throughout history

sounding through history

sounds through history

sounding throughout history

Correct answer:

has sounded throughout history

Explanation:

The use of the phrase "since the nineteenth century" indicates that the appropriate verb form of "sound" must be the past tense, as it describes things taking place previously. The correct answer choice is "has sounded throughout history," as it is the only choice in the past tense.

Example Question #41 : 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.

Sam go to the grocery store before he stopped by the bakery.

Possible Answers:

went

gone

goes

will go

is going

Correct answer:

went

Explanation:

For this sentence, we need to correct the tense of the verb "go" such that it makes sense when used in the sentence with "stopped by." We know that Sam visited the grocery store "before he stopped by the bakery," so we need to pick out the past tense of "go," because we are told that Sam "stopped by" the bakery in the sentence, and "stopped by" employs the past tense. We also know that Sam visited the grocery store "before he stopped by the bakery," so the correct form of "go" must also employ the past tense. While both "went" and "gone" might look like potentially correct answers, "gone," when used as a verb, is the past participle of "go" and must be used with a helping verb like "has" or "had" to be grammatically correct. The answer choice "gone" does not include a helping verb, so we know that it can't be correct. "Went," however, is the past tense of "go," so "went" is the correct answer.

Example Question #151 : Verb Formation 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.

Young professionals often make mistakes, but they also learned from them.

Possible Answers:

Young professionals often make mistakes, but they also learning from them.

Young professionals often make mistakes, they also learned from them.

Young professionals often make mistakes, but they also learned from those.

Young professionals often make mistakes but they also learned from them.

Young professionals often make mistakes, but they also learn from them.

Correct answer:

Young professionals often make mistakes, but they also learn from them.

Explanation:

The sentence employs both the present-tense verb "make" and the past-tense verb "learned." Both of these verbs need to agree and employ the same tense. The only answer choice that correctly adjusts the tenses of the sentence's verbs is "Young professionals often make mistakes, but they also learn from them."

Example Question #1891 : 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.

Janine only had one priority on Wednesday night: studied physics before her final exam the next morning.

Possible Answers:

Janine only had one priority on Wednesday night: studied physics before her final exam the next morning.

Janine only had one priority on Wednesday night: studying physics before her final exam the next morning.

Janine only had one priority on Wednesday night, and studying physics before her final exam the next morning.

Janine only had one priority on Wednesday night: and that was studying physics before her final exam the next morning.

Janine only had one priority on Wednesday night; studying physics before her final exam the next morning.

Correct answer:

Janine only had one priority on Wednesday night: studying physics before her final exam the next morning.

Explanation:

This sentence is structured as an independent clause about a priority and then a clarification of what that priority is.

The only appropriate punctuation here is a colon, which will provide that correct structural division and allow the second part of the sentence ("studying physics before her final exam the next morning") to act as an explanation of the noun "priority."

 

INCORRECT EXPLANATIONS:

A semicolon connects two separate independent clauses, so that is incorrect.

Janine's priority is "studying," which is a gerund, so the past tense "studied" is incorrect. 

The option that uses a comma is incorrect because the second clause is dependent and is lacking a subject.

The option that uses a colon unnecessarily includes the connector "and that was." These superfluous words cloud the sentence's meaning and make the sentence grammatically incorrect.

Example Question #41 : 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.

Avoiding the controversial topic for as long as possible, the congressman speaking for a long time on other subjects.

Possible Answers:

speaking for a long time on other subjects.

speaking for a long time for other subjects.

speaking for a long while for other subjects.

speaking for a long while on other subjects.

spoke for a long time on other subjects.

Correct answer:

spoke for a long time on other subjects.

Explanation:

While the underline dportion is a slightly long phrase, the only real grammatical problem is the verb form "speaking," which indicates an active, present verb, when the sentence's construction shows it needs a past tense verd. Therefore, the correct answer is "spoke for a long time on other subjects.."

Example Question #51 : 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.

Classic comedies have withstood the test of time to remaining popular.

Possible Answers:

remaining popular.

to remain popular.

to remains popular.

remains popular.

to remains popular.

Correct answer:

to remain popular.

Explanation:

The underlined phrase takes the form of an infinitive verb phrase, meaning "to remaining" is an incorrect construction. The appropriate form of an infinitive is "to remain," making "to remain popular" the correct answer.

Example Question #131 : 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.

In most understandings, the law was never wrote to provide for such actions.

Possible Answers:

was never wrote

was never written

was not wrote

had never written

was never quite wrote

Correct answer:

was never written

Explanation:

The underlined portion of the sentence has a verb issue. "Wrote" is the past tense of the verb "to write," which is inappropriate in the sentence's construction. The perfect tense "written" must be used; therefore, "was never written" is the correct answer.

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