SAT Writing : Identifying Parallel Structure Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT 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.

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

Possible Answers:

After

and home

the children went

No error

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 #10 : 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.

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

Possible Answers:

to 

choose

clicked

No error

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. 

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.

Rebecca likes to spend time with her son by participating in his activities, like riding bikes, playing video games and she watches his favorite movies. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

likes to 

with her son

in 

she watches

Correct answer:

she watches

Explanation:

In the list of activities that Rebecca participates in with her son, two items are gerunds, or verbs being used as nouns ("riding" and "playing"), whereas "she watches" is a noun and a verb. Therefore, "she watches" does not fit with the parallel structure of the list, and should instead be changed to "watching."

Example Question #3 : 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.

In her art class, Gina learned how to paint, photograph moving subjects, and molding sculptures. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

how to 

photograph

molding

her

Correct answer:

molding

Explanation:

It is important for a sentence containing a list to employ correct parallelism, which means that listed items should take on the same grammatical form. The first two items in the list are infinitives (Gina learned "to paint" and "photograph"). Therefore, “molding” should be changed to the infinitive "mold" so that it matches the other two infinitives in the list.

Example Question #4 : 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.

Las Vegas offers its visitors dozens of forms of entertainment, including incredible shows, themed casinos, and they can dance in the evening at clubsNo error

Possible Answers:

forms of 

they can dance in the evening at clubs

No error

its

themed

Correct answer:

they can dance in the evening at clubs

Explanation:

It is important for a sentence to have parallelism, which means that listed items take on the same grammatical form. Here, the first two listed items are nouns (incredible shows, themed casinos). Therefore, the third item should also be a noun. However, “they can dance” is an independent clause formed by a noun and a verb, and therefore it is incorrect. Instead, it should be replaced with a noun, as in, "clubs at which they can dance."

Example Question #5 : 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 children at the summer camp spent their days canoeing, horseback riding, and learned wilderness survival skills. No error

Possible Answers:

at the 

learned

horseback

No error

their

Correct answer:

learned

Explanation:

It is important for a sentence to employ correct parallelism, which means that listed items should take on the same grammatical form. The first two items in the sentence's list are gerunds ("canoeing" and "horseback riding"), so the last item, “learned wilderness survival skills,” should be changed to a gerund, "learning wilderness survival skills," to correct the sentence's error.

Example Question #6 : 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.

Sarah did many things at the mall, including buying several pairs of socks, eating in the food court, and funNo error

Possible Answers:

at the mall, including

eating

No error

several pairs of socks

fun

Correct answer:

fun

Explanation:

The issue in this sentence is parallel construction. Each item in a list must be formatted in the same way, but in this sentence, two of these items are gerunds ("buying" and "eating") and the third is a noun ("fun"). So, "fun" contains the sentence's error. The sentence could be corrected by changing "fun" to "having fun."

Example Question #7 : 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.

Clark bought a leather jacket, learned to ride a motorcycle, and listens to classic rock so that Jess would find him attractive and start talking to him. No error

Possible Answers:

listens

to ride

talking

No error

attractive

Correct answer:

listens

Explanation:

This sentence contains is an error in parallelism. The sentence lists three things that the subject, Clark, did:

1. bought a leather jacket
2. learned to ride a motorcycle
3. listens to classic rock 

These three phrases must have parallel structure. The first two phrases start with past-tense verbs, "bought" and "learned," so the last phrase should start with a past tense verb too. That means that to correct the sentence, "listens" should be changed to "listened."

Example Question #8 : 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.

Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, who was the twenty-sixth president of the United States, enjoyed skinny-dipping, hiking, and wrote about history. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

who

wrote

skinny-dipping

enjoyed

Correct answer:

wrote

Explanation:

This sentence's error is faulty parallelism. The first two of the three things listed as Roosevelt's hobbies are presented in the form of gerunds, verbs that end ing "-ing" and act as nouns. The third hobby should follow the previous examples and be written as "writing about history" instead of "wrote about history."  

Example Question #9 : 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.

Winning $10,000 would help Cherie build her cupcake business by providing the funds she needs for ingredients, rent, and to afford publicityNo error

Possible Answers:

help

No error

by

to afford publicity

winning

Correct answer:

to afford publicity

Explanation:

This sentence has an error in parallelism.

Here, the money Cherie would win would provide funding for three things: ingredients, rent, and publicity. Imagine the sentence this way:

"Winning $10,000 would help Cherie build her cupcake business by providing the funds she needs for [ingredients], [rent], and [to afford publicity]."

The three objects at the end of the sentence are what she needs funding for, so try expanding the sentence to see if it makes sense:

"providing the funds she needs for ingredients, (for) rent, and (for) to afford publicity."

The final prepositional phrase isn't necessary, since "for" already applies to "publicity." Instead, only the noun "publicity" is needed, as the other two objects are nouns, as well. The correct sentence should be:

"Winning $10,000 would help Cherie build her cupcake business by providing the funds she needs for ingredients, rent, and publicity."

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