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Sentence Correction: Once in the Past Always in the Past

The introduction of high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener in the food industry in the 1970s is responsible for the extraordinary number of empty calories that the average American consumes daily.

Incorrect.

This answer choice is grammatically incorrect and illogical.

The sentence is anchored in the Past by the past tense verb was. By default, this sentence should remain in the Past tense. The verb consumes, however, is in the Present. Logically, the introduction was responsible to what happened in the past, OR is responsible for something that is happening in the present, but it would be illogical to mix the two.

Remember our rule:

                                Once in the Past, always in the Past.

Incorrect.

This answer choice is grammatically incorrect. It uses the Present Progressive (is consuming), which is a tense used to denote an action that is in progress at present. However, this does not agree with the phrase daily, which indicates the use of the Present Simple -- the tense used to denote an action that takes place at a certain frequency as well as facts and generalizations.

Incorrect.

This answer choice is illogical. The corrected sentence uses the Present Perfect (has been responsible) to describe the effect of the introduction of high fructose corn syrup in the 1970s as denoted by the past tense verb consumed. The Present Perfect is a tense that indicates action that still have an effect in the present. Therefore, we expect the impact of that event to be described in the Present tense. 

However, the corrected sentence illogically uses the Past (consumed), placing the description of the average American's daily calorie consumption in the past, in contradiction with the phrase has been responsible.  

Incorrect.

This answer choice is grammatically incorrect. The plural verb consume in the corrected sentence does not agree with the singular subject average American.

Well done!

This answer choice correctly uses the Present tense in the verbs is and consumes to describe a fact or generalization.

Note that the fact that the high fructose corn syrup was introduced in the past does not necessarily affect the sentence's tense. The introduction in the past is still responsible for the current situation.

is responsible for the extraordinary number of empty calories that the average American consumes
was responsible for the extraordinary number of empty calories that the average American consumes
is responsible for the extraordinary amounts of empty calories that the average American is consuming
has been responsible for the extraordinary number of empty calories that the average American consumed
is responsible for the extraordinary number of empty calories that the average American consume