SAT Writing : Correcting Verb Tense Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #551 : Improving Sentences

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.

Sal, who purchasing stocks five years ago when the recession hit, is now reaping the benefits of his patience.

Possible Answers:

had purchased stocks five years ago when the recession hit

purchasing stocks five years ago when the recession hit

purchased stocks five years ago when the recession hit

having been purchased stocks five years ago when the recession hit

has been purchasing stocks five years ago when the recession hit

Correct answer:

purchased stocks five years ago when the recession hit

Explanation:

The word, purchasing, is incorrect, and must be changed to it's past tense, purchased, for the sentence to make sense.

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.

Various theories were proposed, but none prove satisfactory to the investigators.

Possible Answers:

 none proving satisfactory

 none proved satisfactory

 nothing proving satisfactory

 none prove satisfactory

 nothing prove satisfactory

Correct answer:

 none proved satisfactory

Explanation:

The verb in the underlined portion of the sentence is in the present tense, while the verb in the first part of the sentence is in the past tense. The two verbs need to match their tenses due to the construction of the sentence. The correct answer choice is " none proved satisfactory."

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.

Although he was suspicious of the deal, the negotiator knew he has to accept what he was offered or get nothing at all.

Possible Answers:

the negotiator knew he having to accept

the negotiator knew he is accepting

the negotiator knew he has to accepted

the negotiator knew he has to accept

the negotiator knew he had to accept

Correct answer:

the negotiator knew he had to accept

Explanation:

The issue with the underlined sentence is quite simple, with the verb form "knew," a past tense construction, being at odds with "has," a present tense form. These need to work together, making the correct answer choice "the negotiator knew he had to accept."

Example Question #51 : Correcting Verb Tense Errors

The filmmaker's stated intention to shock his audiences with scenes of horror and violence.

Possible Answers:

The filmmaker's stated intention shocking

The filmmaker's statement of intention to shock

The filmmakers stated intention to shock

The filmmaker's stated intent to shock

The filmmaker's stated intention was to shock

Correct answer:

The filmmaker's stated intention was to shock

Explanation:

The sentence as written actually contains no verb, as "stated" is used as an adjective to describe "intention," and the infinitive form "to shock" needs some form of the verb "to be." The only answer choice that remedies the lack of a verb is "The filmaker's stated intention was to shock," and is 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 repeats the underlined portion as it is written.

Traditionally, movie audiences shown favor towards lighter fare.

Possible Answers:

Traditionally, movie audiences showing favor towards lighter fare.

Traditional, movie audiences shown favor towards lighter fare.

Traditionally, movie audiences have shown favor towards lighter fare.

Traditionally, movie audiences show of favor towards lighter fare.

Traditionally, movie audiences shown favor towards lighter fare.

Correct answer:

Traditionally, movie audiences have shown favor towards lighter fare.

Explanation:

"Shown" is a past perfect verb, and any past perfect construction cannot stand alone as the verb in the sentence without a helping verb, also known as an auxilary verb. The past perfect verb "shown" needs to be accompanied by the verb "have" to make it a complete verbal phrase. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "Traditionally, movie audiences have shown favor towards lighter fare."

Example Question #61 : 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.

Coastal communities are hoping a mild winter makes summer arrive sooner, bring more tourists.

Possible Answers:

more tourists brought.

more tourists bringing.

bringing more tourists.

bring more tourists.

bring many tourists.

Correct answer:

bringing more tourists.

Explanation:

The underlined portion of the sentence is a dependent clause that relies on the rest of the sentence for its meaning. As such, the verb form "bring" does not appropriately connect to the rest of the sentence. "Bringing more tourists, featuring the gerundive is the best answer choice.

Example Question #61 : 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.

American history littered with tales of prospective candidates who flopped in a Presidential election.

Possible Answers:

American history littered

American history is littering

American history is littered

American history littering

American history litters

Correct answer:

American history is littered

Explanation:

The construction of the sentence makes it clear the "litter" is taking place throughout "American history." This means the verb should take the passive voice. "American history is littered" is therefore the correct answer choice.

Example Question #61 : 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.

Few people understand the depth of the deception from the Governor at the time.

Possible Answers:

Few understand

Few people understand

Few persons understand

Fewer people understand

Few people understood

Correct answer:

Few people understood

Explanation:

The sentence describes what happened "at the time," or in the past; therefore, the verb usage must indicate the action taking place in the past, with a past tense verb. "Few people understood" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #81 : Correcting Verb Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice 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.

David forgot that the popcorn was on the stove top and left it there for several minutes, burning the kernels severely and filled the room with a rather foul stench.

Possible Answers:

filled

he filled

filling

is filling

fills

Correct answer:

filling

Explanation:

The progressive tense "filling" is correct here. This verb should be consistent with "burning," which precedes it in the list. Always think of descriptions of actions as scenes, and assess the logical viability of the scene painted (with grammar!). In this case, it doesn't really make sense that you would be "burning" the kernels but have "filled" the room with an odor since these two things occurred at the same time.

Example Question #52 : Correcting Verb Tense Errors

Making things more difficult, the boy deciding to throw a tantrum right after his brother threw one.

Possible Answers:

the boy's decision to throw a tantrum

the boy deciding throwing a tantrum

the boy deciding to throwing a tantrum

the boy deciding to throw a tantrum

the boy decided to throw a tantrum

Correct answer:

the boy decided to throw a tantrum

Explanation:

The underlined phrase contains an incorrect verb form. The present participle "deciding" describes an action taking place, and does not make a complete sentence. The correct answer is "the boy decided to throw a tantrum," using the past tense form.

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