Verb Tense and Agreement
As you read the following passage, identify any errors in tense or agreement. Explain how to fix these errors. The sentence have been numbered to aid in your comments.
(1) Elizabeth Cochran Seaman (1864–1922), known by her pen name Nellie Bly, was an American journalist. (2) She were also a writer, an industrialist, an inventor, and a charity worker. (3) At that time, women in journalism customarily used pen names. (4) The editor chosen “Nellie Bly,” adopted from the title character in the popular song Nelly Bly by Stephen Foster. (5) Bly originally intended that her pseudonym be “Nelly Bly,” but her editor wrote “Nellie” by mistake and the error stuck.
(6) Bly best is known for two accomplishments: her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, in emulation of Jules Verne’s fictional character Phileas Fogg, and her exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within. (7) She is a pioneer in several fields, and she launches a new kind of investigative journalism.
In sentence 2, the linking verb were is used instead of was. Despite the fact that there are many objects in this sentence (a writer, an industrialist, an inventor, and a charity worker), the correct verb here is was. The verb should agree with the subject of the sentence, not the object.
In sentence 4, the past participle chosen is used where the simple past tense should be used: “The editor chose . . .”
Sentence 6 has an issue with word order. Even though the helping verb is works with the past participle known in this sentence, it is okay to divide the words with a modifier. The sentence should read: “Bly is best know for two accomplishments.”
The second paragraph has some errors in tense. Now that we’ve corrected it, sentence 6 states that “Bly is best known for two accomplishments,” and sentence 7 says “She is a pioneer . . . , and she launches.” However, sentence 7 should be in the past tense: “She was a pioneer . . . , and she launched.” Sentence 6 is a passive sentence: Bly is not doing any action in it. Since Bly passed away in 1922, all her actions are in the past. Thus, sentence 7, which details things she did, should be in the past.
Read the following passage and identify the different types of non-finite verbs within, as well as the roles they perform. Type your answers in the text frame below. The sentence have been numbered to aid in your comments.
(1) The Australian magpie is a medium-size black and white bird native to Australia. (2) Feeding magpies is a common practice among households around the country, and there generally is a peaceful co-existence. (3) However, in the spring a small minority of breeding magpies (almost always males) become aggressive and swoop and attack passersby.
(4) The birds are known to attack pedestrians at around 160 feet from their nest, and cyclists at around 330 feet. (5) Being unexpectedly swooped while cycling can result in loss of control of the bicycle, which may cause injury.
(6) If it is necessary to walk near a nest, wearing a broad-brimmed hat or using an umbrella will deter attacking birds, but beanies and bicycle helmets are of little value because birds attack the sides of the head and neck. (7) Cyclists can deter attack by attaching a long pole with a flag to a bike. (8) Using cable ties on helmets has become common as well, and it appears to be an effective deterrent.
Gerunds appear in the –ing form of a verb. They behave like nouns.
- “Feeding magpies” is the subject of sentence 2; this phrase contains the gerund feeding.
- “Being unexpectedly swooped” is the subject of sentence 5; this phrase contains the gerund being. “while cycling” is a prepositional phrase. The gerund cycling is the object of this phrase.
- Sentence 6 has two subjects: “wearing a broad-brimmed hat” and “using an umbrella.” Each of these subject has a gerund: wearing and using.
- In sentence 7, “by attaching a long pole with a flag to a bike” is a prepositional phrase. The gerund attaching is the object of this phrase.
- “Using cable ties on helmets” is the subject of sentence 8; this phrase contains the gerund using.
Present participles also appear as the –ing form of a verb. However, they typically act as modifiers rather than nouns. Past participles take unique past participle forms (many of them are identical to the simple past tense). They act as modifiers as well.
- In sentence 3, breeding is a present participle serving as an adjective. It modifies the noun magpies.
- In sentence 4, known is a past participle. It works with the verb are to form the passive voice.
- In sentence 5, swooped is a past participle. It works with the gerund being as a part of the subject of the sentence: “Being unexpectedly swooped while cycling.” Being swooped is a passive voice construction, so it requires the past participle swooped.
- In sentence 6, attacking is a present participle serving as an adjective. It modifies the noun birds.
Infinitives take two different forms: the dictionary form of the verb, with or without to.
- In sentence 4, to attack is the to-infinitive. It works with the verb phrase “are generally known.”
- In sentence 5, result is the bare-infinitive. It works with the verb can. Can indicates a possibility in this sentence.
- In sentence 5, cause is the bare-infinitive. It works with the verb may. May indicates a possibility in this sentence.
- In sentence 6, to walk is the to-infinitve. It is the object of this sentence; this sentence follows the common construction with the dummy subject it. Deter is the bare-infinitive. It works with the verb will. Will indicates certainty in this sentence.
- In sentence 7, deter is the bare-infinitive. It works with the verb can. Can indicates a possibility in this sentence. In sentence 8, to be is the to-infinitive. It works with the verb appears.