This question is from College Board SAT book.(see the text below) The explanation of the answer seems a little bit strange to me. Because it says : the simple present verb “remark” is the appropriate verb tense in this context. But, "visitor" is a third person. So, shouldn't it have been "remarks"??? Or, shouldn't it have been in the past simple? I'd appreciate any help.

As I walked through the exhibit, I overheard a VISITOR'S REMARK, “You know, that grandfather clock actually runs. Its glass door swings open, and the clock can be wound up.”

B) visitors remarking
C) visitor remarked
D) visitor remark

QUESTION 20. Choice D is the best answer because the article “a” requires the singular noun “visitor,” and the simple present verb “remark” is the appropriate verb tense in this context. Choices A, B, and C are incorrect because each contains either a noun or verb that does not fit the context.

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  • Jacquet, the correct answer is D. So, there is no possessive and book asserts that "remark" is verb. ( I agree with your answer) – Kamran Sep 17 '16 at 21:09
  • Sorry, I should read the whole thing before commenting (I've deleted my incorrect comment). I'd stopped at ‘remark’. Since it’s followed by a comma and then direct speech, remark has to be a verb, not a noun, so the book is correct: D is the only correct answer. “I heard a visitor remarking” would also be correct, but that's not one of the options. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 17 '16 at 21:14
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    @JanusBahsJacquet The answer is correct, but the explanation is wrong: the clausal complement is not headed by a finite ("simple present") verb but by an unmarked infinitive--which is why it is not inflected to agree with its 3d person singular subject or to fix the tense of the event. – StoneyB Sep 17 '16 at 21:19
  • @StoneyB That's why it's unmarked, yes; my first comment was to the effect that it was correct the way it was, since remark was a noun rather than a verb here. Once I read the rest of the sentence, it was clear that that was obviously not an option. I didn't think pivotal constructions were necessary in a comment (that would have made it an answer instead). But you're right, their explanation of why D is correct is doubly wrong, both by calling remark here a “simple present verb” and calling it a tense to begin with. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 17 '16 at 21:23
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    @Kamran Unmarked infinitival clause complements are unremarkable with some very common verbs of perception (overhear, see, feel, notice, watch) and causation (have, let, make), and sometimes know and help. – StoneyB Sep 17 '16 at 23:30


verb 1 [reporting verb] Say something as a comment; mention. [with direct speech] '"Tom's looking peaky," she remarked'

noun 1 A written or spoken comment. 'I decided to ignore his rude remarks'


There are two valid answers.

Answer A ("a visitor's remark") uses the word as a noun. It doesn't matter that the quoted speech contains multiple sentences - it can still be considered a single remark. The word "a" here can quantify either visitor or remark. It's ambiguous, though associating a with visitor seems stronger in the limited context given. Either way, there's no problem with singular agreement.

Answer D ("overheard a visitor remark, ...") uses the word as a verb. There's also no problem here with singular agreement.

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    +1 By gum, I missed A being "no change". I should know better by now than to trust test-writers to get anything right. – StoneyB Sep 18 '16 at 0:03
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    I really appreciate your time and consideration. It seems to be much more clear to me now. Thank you! – Kamran Sep 18 '16 at 21:13
  • @StoneyB, I totally agree with you. It is about The Objective Infinitive Construction. I just remembered this example : " I watched her approach" – Kamran Sep 21 '16 at 19:05

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