Verb Tense Gist for GMAT GMAT Notes | EduRev

Verbal for GMAT

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15% of GMAT SC Questions | One of the more common error types on the GMAT

The verb tense family of errors is one of the most intricate areas of content on the GMAT. Grammar books, and other test prep companies make this way more complicated than it needs to be. Here’s what you need to know about verb tense for the GMAT: 


Check the time-frame of what’s being referred to in the original sentence by reading the sentence carefully to understand the author’s intent. The Verb Tense will either be:

1) Simple: 

A. The Past: “worked”; “drove”
B. The Present: “works”; “drives”
C. The Future: “will work”; “will drive”

2) Complex (far more likely to appear on your exam): 

1) Past to the Present - Started in the past, and continues to the present, or into the future (has/have).

Example:  Antonio modeled his craft after the legendary Thomas Wolfgang, and has been credited with the title of “living legend”.

Here, Antonio began modeling his craft in the past, but the title remains in place at the present.

2) Two things in the past - If two events happened in the past, looking back from the present the 1st thing requires the verb “had”.

Vincenzo had been hungry until the feast arrived.

Here, looking back we see that Vincenzo was first hungry, then the feast arrived. Both of these events happened in the past, so the word “had” MUST be applied to the first event.



Miscellaneous Verb Tense Errors 

1) For [VERB]ing: Whenever you see an option between a verb in the form “for [VERB]ing” and “to [VERB]”, the “to [VERB]” form, also known as the infinitive form, is correct. The test-writers consider the “for [VERB]ing” form “awkward”.

The company recently invented a new payroll accounting platform for making payroll management easier to administer.
“for making” is wrong on the GMAT. Simply change the verb to the infinitive form, “to make”.

Also, note that nothing should go between the “to” and the “verb”. “To boldly go” would be incorrect on the GMAT. It should be “to go boldly” 


2) Instructions: Whenever a sentence involves an instruction, the verb form should be adjusted (also known as Subjunctive Mood).  

All instructions should:  
Precede with the word “that” to announce that there is a packet of information that follows.
A common resolution: “Be” followed a verb in infinitive form (without a “to” and without a “should”).
Sometimes, that means use of the word “be”.

This Subjunctive Mood would be triggered by any of the following:
A. Orders  
B. Demands
C. Laws, restrictions, rules
D. Suggestions
E. Requests

The city-wide ordinance requires that leaf-blowers only be used during daylight hours.
The doctor suggested that the patient reduce sugar and carbohydrate intake.


3) Hypotheticals: Whenever a sentence involves a hypothetical scenario, either in the past or the future, certain rules are triggered.  

A. “If...were” - The sentence needs the word “if” to establish the hypothetical condition, and the verb form “were”. (see “The Ws” rules for “whether”)
B. “would”, “could” - The word “would” or “could” should introduce what happens in the hypothetical scenario

Shelly were to qualify for competition, she would likely fare well against most of her rivals.


4) “being”: Whenever “being” is used to describe a state, and appears in the middle of a sentence, it’s wrong on the GMAT.


The shipping lane being a conduit for passenger ships and Panamax class cargo containers, is heavily used.

The shipping lane, a conduit for passenger ships and Panamax class cargo containers, is heavily used.

“being” is not universally wrong on the GMAT. Here are some cases in which “being” can be OK:
• At the beginning of a sentence
• It follows a comma, and is used as a connector in a sentence

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