PSAT Writing : Identifying Parallel Structure Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Identifying Parallel Structure Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The buzz of unfamiliar languages filled the room as international travelers swapped stories and comparing adventures. No error.

Possible Answers:

filled 

comparing

as international travelers

No error.

buzz of unfamiliar languages

Correct answer:

comparing

Explanation:

This sentence does not correctly use parallel structure between elements. “Swapped” and “comparing” should be formatted similarly. The corrected sentence reads, "The buzz of unfamiliar languages filled the room as international travelers swapped stories and compared adventures."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

When I worked for Mr. Tipler, my daily duties included running the cash register, cleaning the store, and records of inventoryNo error.

Possible Answers:

cleaning

records of inventory

When I worked

No error.

daily duties

Correct answer:

records of inventory

Explanation:

This sentence does not demonstrate proper parallel structure among the elements in the list. Each should be formatted similarly. So, because the first two elements in the list are gerunds ("running" and "cleaning"), the noun phrase "records of inventory" should be changed to a gerund as well. The corrected sentence reads, "When I worked for Mr. Tipler, my daily duties included running the cash register, cleaning the store, and recording inventory."

Example Question #3 : Identifying Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Before she could leave work on Friday afternoon, Laura was told to finish entering the week’s data, start setting up for the upcoming event, and taking out the trash. No error.

Possible Answers:

taking out the trash

Laura was told to

entering the week's data

No error.

could leave

Correct answer:

taking out the trash

Explanation:

This sentence has a problem with parallel structure. Each element in the list should be formatted in the same way grammatically, but the verbs read “finish . . . start . . . taking.” The last one shouldn’t be an "-ing" verb. The corrected sentence reads, "Before she could leave work on Friday afternoon, Laura was told to finish entering the week’s data, start setting up for the upcoming event, and take out the trash."

Example Question #4 : Identifying Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

I would rather make my own ice cream than store-boughtNo error.

Possible Answers:

than store-bought

No error.

would rather

my own

make

Correct answer:

than store-bought

Explanation:

This sentence compares two unlike things: the action of making ice cream and the description of “store-bought.” Structure these two things similarly for the sentence to make more sense: "I would rather make my own ice cream than buy it from the store."

Example Question #5 : Identifying Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

With wit, candor, and smiling captivatingly, the performer entranced the audience in the small dinner theaterNo error.

Possible Answers:

No error.

smiling captivatingly

With

small dinner theater

entranced

Correct answer:

smiling captivatingly

Explanation:

This sentence does not employ proper parallel structure between the items in its list. The first two are nouns ("wit" and "candor"), but the third is a verb ("smiling captivatingly"). Make this a noun for the sentence to run more smoothly: "With wit, candor, and a captivating smile, the performer entranced the audience in the small dinner theater."

Example Question #6 : Identifying Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Plane ticket prices fluctuate wildly, and it is never quite clear why one seat costs several hundred dollars more than another plane. No error.

Possible Answers:

it is

No error.

fluctuate wildly

more than another plane

why one seat costs

Correct answer:

more than another plane

Explanation:

This sentence has an illogical comparison. It is comparing a seat to a plane, but it means to compare two seats on different planes. The corrected sentence reads, "Plane ticket prices fluctuate wildly, and it is never quite clear why one seat costs several hundred dollars more than another."

Example Question #7 : Identifying Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The facade of Mary's Victorian-style mansion is in much worse shape than PollyNo error.

Possible Answers:

much worse

The facade

than Polly

No error.

Mary's Victorian-style mansion

Correct answer:

than Polly

Explanation:

This sentence has an illogical comparison. It means to compare the facade on Mary’s house to that on Polly’s, but instead it compares the facade to Polly herself. The corrected sentence reads, "The facade of Mary's Victorian-style mansion is in much worse shape than that of Polly's."

Example Question #8 : Identifying Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The hummus sold at the corner market is organic, locally-made, and tastes deliciousNo error.

Possible Answers:

No error.

at the corner market

tastes delicious

sold

locally-made

Correct answer:

tastes delicious

Explanation:

This sentence has a problem with parallel structure. The first two elements in the list are adjectives, but the third is a verb-adjective combination. It is better to keep these consistent. The corrected sentence reads, "The hummus sold at the corner market is organic, locally-made, and delicious."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Parallel Structure Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

After school, the children went to the park, to the store, and home. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

After

the children went

and home

the park

Correct answer:

and home

Explanation:

"Home" contains the error in this sentence because parallel sentence structure dictates that each part in a series must use the same type of word and employ the same tense, if the words are verbs. In this case, the first two parts in the series are prepositional phrases ("to the park" and "to the store"), but the third part is a noun "home." Because only part of one of the prepositional phrases is underlined, we can't change them, so we would need to change the noun, "home," to correct the sentence's error.

Example Question #36 : Identifying Other Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

For Lisa to change her email settings, she had to log in, choose "settings" and then clicked on "preferences." No error

Possible Answers:

choose

to 

No error

clicked

had to 

Correct answer:

clicked

Explanation:

Given that two of the three verbs in the series are in the present tense ("choose" and "log in"), it follows that "clicked" should also be in the present tense, not the past tense, in order to conform with the rest of the sentence. 

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