SAT Writing : Identifying Verb Tense Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Identifying 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.

The young scholar and his advisors, a group of about four people, is going to be honored at an important dinner next week. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

next week

is

at

as well as

Correct answer:

is

Explanation:

In this sentence, the verb does not agree with the subject. The subject is plural (“a group of about four people" is a modifying phrase and doesn’t count), so the correct verb form should be “are,” not “is.”

 

Example Question #12 : Identifying 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.

When Scott runs at night, he wears very bright clothes so that drivers could see him. No error

Possible Answers:

so that

at night

him 

No error

could

Correct answer:

could

Explanation:

"Could" is a modal verb, but there is nothing in the sentence that calls for a modal verb to be used because the rest of the sentence is in the indicative mood. So, "could" should be changed to the simple present tense indicative verb "can."

Example Question #151 : Identifying Word Usage Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

After having controlled the city for over 150 years, the British peacefully return Hong Kong to China on July 1st, 1997. No error

Possible Answers:

return

over 150 years

controlled

No error

peacefully

Correct answer:

return

Explanation:

This sentence contains an error in verb tense. Keep verb tenses consistent within the timeline of the sentence. This verb should be past tense ("returned") to reflect an event that happened in the past.

Example Question #152 : Identifying Word Usage 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 am eagerly awaiting my college admissions decision letters, though I expect that I will have to wait another month before I received any letters. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

though 

eagerly awaiting

received

will have to wait

Correct answer:

received

Explanation:

The sentence is referring to something that will happen in the future, which is indicated by the fact that the subject is currently waiting and is expecting to wait longer. Therefore, the verb "receive" cannot be past tense ("received") because it has not happened yet; the subject has not "received" letters and will not for quite some time. "Received" is therefore incorrect.

Example Question #153 : Identifying Word Usage Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Every member of that family has freckles and bright red hair, so every year, it is easy to spot relatives as they arrived at the family reunion. No error

Possible Answers:

so

No error

they arrived

to spot

of

Correct answer:

they arrived

Explanation:

This sentence contains is a tense agreement issue. It is stated that "it is easy to spot relatives," which is present tense. Therefore, "arrive" must also be present tense. "Is" and "arrive" must agree in tense. 

Example Question #154 : Identifying Word Usage Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

We go to the zoo often, where we saw all sorts of birds and other animals. No error

Possible Answers:

the zoo

where

saw

No error

We go

Correct answer:

saw

Explanation:

The sentence begins in present tense because "go" is in present tense. So, the past tense verb "saw" should be changed to the present tense verb "see" in order to keep the sentence's tense consistent.

Example Question #155 : Identifying Word Usage Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Ralph was having quite a hard time at lunch that day due to the fact that the cafeteria was serving chicken noodle soup and had ran out of spoons. No error

Possible Answers:

quite a hard time at lunch

due to the fact that

was having

No error

had ran out of

Correct answer:

had ran out of

Explanation:

This sentence contains an error in verb tense in the phrase "had ran out of." "Had" is a past tense helping verb, so the verb that follows it needs to be an infinitive. For example, one wouldn't say "He thought I didn't go to the concert, but I did went." You would say, "He thought I didn't go to the concert, but I did go." The corrected version of the given sentence is, "Ralph was having quite a hard time at lunch that day due to the fact that the cafeteria was serving chicken noodle soup and had run out of spoons."

Example Question #11 : Identifying 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.

Sharleen, who knew and appreciated how much work her mother put into preparing supper each night, often misses dinners with friends because she insisted on eating at home with her family. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

who

misses

preparing

eating

Correct answer:

misses

Explanation:

This sentence has an issue of verb tense agreement. Because the given verbs are all in past tense—"knew," "appreciated," and "insisted"—the verb "misses" also needs to also be in the past tense. So, the corrected sentence reads, "Sharleen, who knew and appreciated how much work her mother put into preparing supper each night, often missed dinners with friends because she insisted on eating at home with her family."

Example Question #31 : Identifying Verb Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Earlier this morning, I was walking to the bus station, when I suddenly was realizing that I forgot my bus pass, so I had to go home to retrieve it. No error

Possible Answers:

was realizing

No error

forgot

was walking

had to go

Correct answer:

was realizing

Explanation:

"Was realizing" is grammatically incorrect and awkward. "Was realizing" implies a gradual process of realizing, when this is not the case; we can especially tell that this is true because of the sentence's use of "suddenly," which suggests a definite, one-time action in the past, not something that happened over time. So, to correct the sentence's error, the past progressive verb "was realizing" should be changed to the simple past tense verb "realized."

Example Question #32 : Identifying Verb Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Prior to accepting the post of head developer in London, Mrs. Reynolds has been spending time in France. No error

Possible Answers:

has been spending

Prior to

No error

accepting

of

Correct answer:

has been spending

Explanation:

The verb "has been spending" does not work with the timeline of the sentence because Mrs. Reynolds is no longer in France. The verb should be a past participle instead. Changing "has been spending" to "had been spending" corrects the sentence's error. The corrected sentence reads, "Prior to accepting the post of head developer, Mrs. Reynolds had been spending time in France."

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