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Sentence Correction: Tenses - Past Perfect

Albert Einstein dropped out of school before he reached the age of fifteen and, without a certificate, was not accepted into the Polytechnic school in Zurich.

Incorrect.

This answer choice is grammatically incorrect. In this sentence, a past action (dropped out of school) takes place before another past action (reached the age of fifteen). Therefore, the Past Perfect tense should be used for the earlier action. This answer choice, however, uses the Past Simple (dropped).

Incorrect.

This answer choice is grammatically incorrect and repeats the original Tenses error. In this sentence, a past action (reaching the age of fifteen) takes place before another past action (dropped out of school). Therefore, the Past Perfect tense should be used for the earlier action. This answer choice, however, uses the Past Simple (dropped).

Incorrect.

Although this answer choice corrects the original Tenses mistake by using the Past Perfect tense to describe an action that occurred before another action in the past, it creates redundancy by using the wordy phrase not having received a certificate.

Incorrect.

Although this answer choice corrects the original Tenses mistake by using the Past Perfect tense to describe an action that occurred before another action in the past, it creates a Subject Verb Agreement error. The singular subject Albert Einstein does not agree with the plural verb were.

What helps us identify this question as a Subject Verb Agreement question and identify the mistake is the following Stop Sign:

A long complex subject / a long distance between the subject and the verb

Very well done!

This answer choice corrects the original Tenses mistake by using the Past Perfect tense (had dropped out) to describe an action that occurred before another action in the past.

dropped out of school before he reached the age of fifteen and, without a certificate, was
had dropped out of school before he reached the age of fifteen and, without a certificate, was
dropped out of school, without a certificate, before he reached the age of fifteen and, was
had dropped out of school before he reached the age of fifteen and, not having received a certificate, was
had dropped out of school before he reached the age of fifteen and, without a certificate, were