SAT Writing : Identifying Verb Tense Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #33 : 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.

Margaret carried her dog, which was often clad in a pink and white argyle sweater, everywhere she goesNo error

Possible Answers:

No error

often

clad

she goes

pink and white argyle sweater

Correct answer:

she goes

Explanation:

The first part of the sentence is in the past tense ("carried"), but the second is in the present ("goes"). These should be kept consistent. Changing "goes" to "went" corrects the sentence's error. The corrected sentence reads, "Margaret carried her dog, which was often clad in a pink and white argyle sweater, everywhere she went."

Example Question #34 : 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.

The man peered around the corner, checked to see if the coast was clear. No error

Possible Answers:

corner, checked

peered

No error

if

was

Correct answer:

corner, checked

Explanation:

The verb "checked" is written in the simple past tense, and the following phrase is not coordinated correctly with the rest of the sentence. This can be fixed by turning it into a gerund: "The man peered around the corner, checking to see if the coast was clear."

Example Question #21 : 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.

As he resigned himself to eating instant noodles for the rest of the month, Alex thinks longingly of prime rib. No error

Possible Answers:

thinks

of

for the rest of 

himself

No error

Correct answer:

thinks

Explanation:

This sentence switches tense from past ("as he resigned") to present ("thinks") in the middle of the sentence. In the logical timeline of events, these should both be in the past: "As he resigned himself to eating instant noodles for the rest of the month, Alex thought longingly of prime rib."

Example Question #36 : 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.

Jose did not understand howlecture on sea turtles is relevant to a course on the politics of the Middle East. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

how

is

lecture on

relevant to

Correct answer:

is

Explanation:

This sentence uses inconsistent verb tenses. It starts out in the past ("did not understand") and switches to the present ("is relevant"). Changing "is" to "was" corrects the sentence's error. The corrected sentence reads, "Jose did not understand how a lecture on sea turtles was relevant to a course on Middle-Eastern politics."

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.

Testing the new model rocket would not be possible since it was being a rainy day. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

Testing

was being

since

would not

Correct answer:

was being

Explanation:

The second phrase of this sentence is needlessly in the progressive tense. It sounds clearer and more concise to put this in the simple past: "Testing the new model rocket would not be possible since it was a rainy day."

Example Question #38 : 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.

Despite his initial skepticism, Rory found the conference on urban chicken raising being fascinating, informative, and inspirationalNo error

Possible Answers:

and inspirational

Despite

the conference on

being

No error

Correct answer:

being

Explanation:

This sentence uses the wrong form of the verb “to be.” Since "being" follows another verb, "raising," it needs to be in the infintive form, "to be." The corrected sentence reads: "Despite his initial skepticism, Rory found the conference on urban chicken raising to be fascinating, informative, and inspirational."

Example Question #21 : 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.

After the canoe flipped over and the provisions were lost, the campers are declaring the trip a disaster. No error

Possible Answers:

lost

the canoe

and

are declaring

No error

Correct answer:

are declaring

Explanation:

This sentence has a problem with verb tense. Since the first part of the sentence, "After the canoe flipped over and the provisions were lost," uses two past-tense verbs ("flipped" and "were"), the rest of the sentence needs to be in past tense too, since it is describing events that took place at the same time as those described earlier in the sentence. "Are declaring" is in the present progressive tense, so it contains the sentence's error. You could correct the sentence by changing "are declaring" to "declared," yielding the sentence, "After the canoe flipped over and the provisions were lost, the campers declared the trip a disaster."

Example Question #40 : 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.

It can be difficult to hear the approaching of cars running on electric engines. No error

Possible Answers:

running on

approaching

It can be difficult

to hear

No error

Correct answer:

approaching

Explanation:

This sentence uses the gerund "approaching" when the noun "approach" already exists. Changing "approaching" to "approach" clarifies the sentence. The corrected sentence reads, "It can be difficult to hear the approach of cars running on electric engines."

Example Question #31 : 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.

After attending a workshop on cake decorating, Joe brings edible works of art to every family gatheringNo error

Possible Answers:

every 

No error

brings

gathering

a workshop on

Correct answer:

brings

Explanation:

The timeline of verb tenses in this sentence doesn’t quite make sense. Read it out loud and you will probably hear that something is wrong. Since the first half is in the past, the second half should be too. The corrected sentence reads: After attending a workshop on cake decorating, Joe has brought edible works of art to every family gathering.

Example Question #32 : 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.

How did she made that cake so moist and fluffy without using an electric beater or any eggsNo error

Possible Answers:

any eggs

No error

how

 without

made

Correct answer:

made

Explanation:

The correct verb tense would be "make," since the sentence is phrased as a question and is not a declarative statement about something in the past.

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