SAT Writing : Identifying Verb Tense Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #51 : 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 Martha goes to the coffee shop and places her order, it took her about five minutes to detail all of her specifications. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

When

took

to detail

goes to the coffee shop

Correct answer:

took

Explanation:

This sentence has a problem with verb tense. Since the first half of the sentence is in the present, the second half has to be too. The corrected sentence reads, "When Martha goes to the coffee shop and places her order, it takes her about five minutes to detail all of her specifications."

Example Question #52 : Identifying Verb Tense Errors

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

Anytime Clara hears a new equation, she was able to remember it even months later. No error

Possible Answers:

was

even

later

No error

hears

Correct answer:

was

Explanation:

Context clues in the sentence, such as "Anytime Clara hears" and "even months later" indicate that the speaker is not referring to Clara's ability in the past tense. Therefore, "was" should be changed to "is" or "will be."

Example Question #53 : 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.

By the time Ron got the brilliant orange goldfish home from the carnival and put it in a fishbowl, it died. No error

Possible Answers:

fishbowl,

By the time

it died.

brilliant orange

No error

Correct answer:

it died.

Explanation:

Give the form of this sentence, the verb “to die” should be in the present perfect and not the simple past tense. We know this, because the sentence follows the general form “by the time X happened, Y had happened.” So the sentence should read “it had died,” not “it died.”

Example Question #54 : 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.

Reporters speculated wildly about what the prisoners had saw while they were in captivity, a time that spanned almost ten months. No error

Possible Answers:

speculated wildly

No error

captivity,

the prisoners had saw

that spanned almost

Correct answer:

the prisoners had saw

Explanation:

In this sentence, the correct verb tense of “to see” is the present perfect, which is “had seen,” not “had saw.”

Example Question #51 : 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.

Beverly Hills was a significant part of Los Angeles because its inhabitants include important professionals who have been very influential in the historical development of the entertainment industry. No error 

Possible Answers:

historical development

because

No error

was

part of

Correct answer:

was

Explanation:

This sentence is written in the present tense, as we can tell from its verb "include." However, the verb "was" is in the past tense. It should be in the present tense as well. To correct the sentence's error, "was" should be changed to "is."

Example Question #891 : Sat Writing

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

Justin, who had never tried celery before, was amazed by how crisp and refreshing it tastesNo error

Possible Answers:

who

before,

No error

tastes

by

Correct answer:

tastes

Explanation:

The sentence is in past tense, as indicated by "was" and "had never tried." For this reason, the verb "taste" should also be in past tense. "Tasted" would be the correct version, not "tastes."

Example Question #892 : Sat Writing

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

The general was a man of great dignity and courage who sees the potential in men rather than simply their current ability, and he commanded in battle with clear eyes and a level head. No error

Possible Answers:

a

great

sees

and courage

No error

Correct answer:

sees

Explanation:

Although the rest of the sentence clearly refers to the past ("was a man," "commanded in battle"), "sees" is written in the present tense. It should be changed to its third-person past tense form, "saw," to agree with the other verbs in the sentence.

Example Question #893 : Sat Writing

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

As I left my house to go to the store, I having my keys in hand and my makeup carefully applied; I had no idea that neither of those states would last. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

having

neither

As

carefully

Correct answer:

having

Explanation:

"Having" is the present progressive form of the verb "to have," and the rest of the sentence is written entirely in the past tense. "Having" should be changed to "had" to agree with "left," "applied," and "had no idea."

Example Question #894 : Sat Writing

Since the argument about cheese curds, Paul and I are not speaking to each other more than is absolutely necessary.

Possible Answers:

argument about

No error

than is absolutely necessary

are not speaking

each other

Correct answer:

are not speaking

Explanation:

The timeline of the verb tenses in this sentence is slightly off. The corrected sentence reads: Since the argument about cheese curds, Paul and I have not been speaking to each other more than is absolutely necessary.

Example Question #895 : Sat Writing

Allowed the students to continue their protest, the police stood watch without making a move.

Possible Answers:

Allowed students to continue their protest

Allowing the students to continue they're protest

Allowing the students to continue their protest

Allowed the students to continue their protest

Allowed the students to continue they're protest

Correct answer:

Allowing the students to continue their protest

Explanation:

The underlined portion of the sentence is a conditional phrase, explaining the condition under which "the police stood watch." As such, the verb in the phrase needs to actually be a gerund, or a verb describing action that functions as a noun; therefore, "Allowing the students to continue their protest," is the correct answer choice.

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