PSAT Writing : Correcting Parallel Structure Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #41 : Correcting Other Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Every new enrollee must choose to have either specific benefits or working a set shift.

Possible Answers:

to have either specific benefits or working a set shift.

to have either specific benefits, or working a set shift.

to have neither specific benefits or working a set shift.

to have either specific benefits or a set work shift.

having either specific benefits or working a set shift.

Correct answer:

to have either specific benefits or a set work shift.

Explanation:

Any "either . . . or" phrase must feature similar items, so they can be properly grouped in the same phrase. However, the sentence is written so that its "either . . . or" phrase contains unlike elements, a noun ("specific benefits") and a gerund phrase ("working a set shift"). The only answer choice that features correct parallel structure in the phrase is "to have either specific benefits or a set work shift," which changes the gerund phrase to a noun so that the "either . . . or" phrase contains two nouns.

Example Question #71 : Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

The executives scrapped the project because it had problems in design, expenses, and to fulfill its timetable.

Possible Answers:

it had problems in design, expenses, and to fulfill its timetable.

it having problems in design, expenses, and to fulfill its timetable.

it had problems in design, expenses, and timetable fulfillment.

that had problems in design, expenses, and to fulfill its timetable.

it had problems for design, expenses, and to fulfill its timetable.

Correct answer:

it had problems in design, expenses, and timetable fulfillment.

Explanation:

A list like the one that finishes this sentence needs to include three similar items, so that they can be properly grouped together. The sentence in this question, though, features two nouns ("design" and "expenses") and an infinitive phrase ("to fulfill its timetable"), meaning that the list needs to be changed so that all of its elements match. The only answer choice with a correct parallel structure is "it had problems in design, expenses, and timetable fulfillment," which changes the infinitive phrase "to fulfill its timetable" to a noun, "timetable fulfillment," that matches the other two nouns in the list.

Example Question #43 : Correcting Parallel Structure Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Neither antibiotics nor the use of disinfectants helped slow the spread of the disease.

Possible Answers:

Neither antibiotics nor the use of disinfectants helping slow

Neither the use of antibiotics nor disinfectants helped slow

Neither antibiotics nor the use of disinfectants helped slow

Neither antibiotics or the use of disinfectants helped slow

Neither antibiotics nor the use of disinfectants helped to slow

Correct answer:

Neither the use of antibiotics nor disinfectants helped slow

Explanation:

In any "neither . . . nor" phrase, each item being compared has to be the same kind of item so a proper comparison can be made. The sentence is written with two different elements, the simple noun "antibiotics" and the verbal phrase "the use of disinfectants." The only answer choice that uses an appropriate parallel structure, by redeploying the verbal phrase to cover both items, is "Neither the use of antibiotics nor disinfectants helped slow."

Example Question #51 : Correcting Parallel Structure Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Can you tell me how to get to either the post office or the police station?

Possible Answers:

get to either the post office nor the police station?

get to either the post office and the police station?

get to the post office or either the police station?

get to; either the post office or the police station?

get to either the post office or the police station?

Correct answer:

get to either the post office or the police station?

Explanation:

The initial sentence is correct. The use of "either" in this manner requires that it be accompanied by "or."

Example Question #51 : Correcting Parallel Structure Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Either chatting online or video games might appear more interesting to a teenager than talking with their parents.

Possible Answers:

Neither chatting online nor video games might appear

Either chatting online or video games might appear

Either chatting online or playing video games might appear

Either chatted online or video games might appear

Either chatting online or video games might appear,

Correct answer:

Either chatting online or playing video games might appear

Explanation:

"Chatting online" is a gerund phrase, while "video games" is a noun. In an "either . . . or" phrase, however, both elements of the phrase need to be of the same kind of word. "Either chatting online or playing video games might appear" is the only answer choice that uses an appropriate parallel structure.

Example Question #51 : Correcting Parallel Structure Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

The flowers she brought are fragrant, colorful, and they look fresh.

Possible Answers:

and beautifully fresh.

and they look fresh.

and they are fresh.

and fresh-looking.

and fresh.

Correct answer:

and fresh.

Explanation:

Parallelism is the key here—all the descriptions should be in the same format, which is a single word adjective. The correct answer also makes the sentence more concise and more fluid, which is another benefit of having parallel sentence structure and another way to tell which answer choice is best.

Example Question #61 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

The governor supported abolishing residential taxes and to create new state parks.

Possible Answers:

creating new state parks

created new state parks

created new parks for the state

to create new parks in the state

to create new state parks

Correct answer:

creating new state parks

Explanation:

As it is written, the sentence uses parallelism incorrectly because the two things the governor supports are different word forms - "abolishing residential taxes" is a gerund phrase, and "to create new state parks" is an infinitive phrase. Changing the infinitive phrase to a gerund phrase makes the sentence sound more fluid.

Example Question #51 : Correcting Parallel Structure Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

At the supermarket, I decided to buy apples, oranges, grapefruit, and some lemons.

Possible Answers:

I decided to buy apples, oranges, lemons, and some grapefruit.

I decided to buy some apples, oranges, grapefruit, and lemons.

 

I decided to buy apples, oranges, grapefruit, and some lemons.

I decided to buy apples, oranges, grapefruit, and lemons. 

I decided on buying apples, oranges, grapefruit, and lemons.

Correct answer:

I decided to buy apples, oranges, grapefruit, and lemons. 

Explanation:

The sentence must have parallel structure. The quantifier “some” should appear before each fruit, or it should be left out completely. The verb “to decide” must be followed by an infinitive verb (“to buy”).

Example Question #61 : Correcting Other Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

John was an excellent sportsman because he performed his athletic pursuits with agility, grace, and he desired to win.

Possible Answers:

John was an excellent sportsman because he performed his athletic pursuits with agility, grace, and he desired to win.

John was an excellent sportsman because he had agility, grace, and a desire to win and he performed all of his athletic pursuits accordingly.

John was an excellent sportsman because he performed all of his athletic pursuits with agility, grace, and because he desired to win. 

John was an excellent sportsman because of his agility, grace, and desire to win. He performed his athletic pursuits with these abilities.

John was an excellent sportsman because he performed his athletic pursuits with agility, grace, and desire to win.

Correct answer:

John was an excellent sportsman because he performed his athletic pursuits with agility, grace, and desire to win.

Explanation:

The sentence suffers from a form of faulty parallelism, in which the third item in a parallel series doesn't share the same grammatical form as the other items in the series. The third item, "he desired to win," is stated as a clause, while the other two items, "agility" and "grace," are nouns. The easiest way to fix this problem is simply to change "he desired" to "a desire."

Example Question #52 : Correcting Parallel Structure Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

The new legislation is intended to help unemployed laborers by providing training in computer science, leadership techniques, and managing accounts.

Possible Answers:

computer science, leadership techniques, and account management.

computer science, leadership techniques, and managing accounts.

computer science; leadership techniques; and managing accounts.

the science of computing, leadership techniques, and managing accounts.

computer science leadership techniques and managing accounts.

Correct answer:

computer science, leadership techniques, and account management.

Explanation:

The list that makes up the underlined portion of the sentence does not correctly employ parallel structure, making it actually describe wildly different things, like the act of "managing" with the topic of "computer science." The three elements in the list need to have the same structure, making "computer science, leadership techniques, and account management," the correct answer choice, as here, all of the elements are presented as nouns.

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