PSAT Writing : Correcting Parallel Structure Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #82 : 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 students were looking forward to practicing French, eating regional food, and classes during their trip abroad.

Possible Answers:

French practice, eating regional food, and classes during their trip abroad.

practicing French, eating regional food, and taking classes during their trip abroad.

practicing French, eating regional food, and classes during their trip abroad.

practicing French; eating regional food; taking classes, during their trip abroad.

their trip abroad: practicing French, eating regional food, and classes.

Correct answer:

practicing French, eating regional food, and taking classes during their trip abroad.

Explanation:

Elements in a list must have the same grammatical structure in order to be parallel. In this case, the first two items in the list are gerunds: "practicing" and "eating." The third item in the list, however, is a noun: "classes." To correct the sentence's error, the noun "classes" should be replaced by a gerund, and the only answer choice that does this without introducing other errors is "practicing French, eating regional food, and taking classes during their trip abroad."

Example Question #81 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

What do you make of the fact that he was seen taking off his shoes, unfolded a blanket, and curled up for a nap in one of the café's booths?

Possible Answers:

What do you make of the fact that he was seen taking off his shoes, unfolding a blanket, and curling up for a nap in one of the café's booths?

What did you made of the fact that he was saw taking off his shoes, unfolded a blanket, and curled up for a nap in one of the café's booths?

What did you made of the fact that he was seen taking off his shoes unfolded a blanket and curled up for a nap in one of the café's booths?

What did you made of the fact that he was seen taking off his shoes, unfolded a blanket, and curled up for a nap in one of the café's booths?

What do you make of the fact that he was seen took off his shoes, unfolded a blanket, and curling up for a nap in one of the café's booths?

Correct answer:

What do you make of the fact that he was seen taking off his shoes, unfolding a blanket, and curling up for a nap in one of the café's booths?

Explanation:

This sentence's error is one of parallel structure: all of the items in the sentence's list need to be written in the same form. As it is written, the sentence's list includes one present progressive verb ("taking") and two past-tense verbs ("unfolded" and "curled up"). All of these items need to match, so we either need to change "unfolded" and "curled up" to "unfolding" and "curling up," or "taking" to "took." "He was seen took" is grammatically incorrect; we need the present progressive verb, "taking." So, we need to change "unfolded" and "curled up" to "unfolding" and "curling up," making the correct answer "What do you make of the fact that he was seen taking off his shoes, unfolding a blanket, and curling up for a nap in one of the café's booths?"

Example Question #63 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

No one has ever sailed through the treacherous waters was able to tell anyone about it afterward.

Possible Answers:

No one sailed

No one who will sail

No one has ever sailed

No one who sailing

No one who has ever sailed

Correct answer:

No one who has ever sailed

Explanation:

Let's take a look at the parts from which this this sentence is composed: we have "No one," a subject, "has ever sailed," a verb, "through the treacherous waters," a prepositional phrase, and then "was able to tell anyone about it afterward," a predicate. This sentence has too many verbs. While there are numerous ways to make this sentence grammatically correct, one way is to make the underlined portion into a subject; that way, the sentence would consist of a subject, followed by a prepositional phrase describing that subject, followed by a predicate. The answer choice "No one who has ever sailed" adds in the subordinate conjunction "who" to make what was a verb ("has ever sailed") into a subordinate clause ("who has ever sailed"), making "No one who has ever sailed through the treacherous waters" one big subject and the sentence grammatically correct. While the other answer choices "No one who will sail" each function as a subject, it introduces the future verb tense that doesn't match the past-tense verb "was able" that appears later in the sentence.

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.

Public education, health care, and the constructing of new roadways are all areas that we desperately need to fund.

Possible Answers:

Public education, health care, and the constructing of new roadways are all areas 

All areas are public education, health care, and new roadway construction 

Public education, health care, and new roadway construction is all areas 

Public education, health care, and new roadway construction are all areas 

Public education, health care, and constructing new roadways are all areas 

Correct answer:

Public education, health care, and new roadway construction are all areas 

Explanation:

This sentence's error is one of parallel structure. The first two items in its list, "Public education" and "health care," are nouns, but the third item, "the constructing of new roadways," begins with a gerund. All of the items in a list should be formatted in the same way. There are numerous ways in which we could change the sentence so that each of its items take on the same grammatical form, and several answer choices correctly fix this issue; only "Public education, health care, and constructing new roadways are all areas," which changes the gerund "constructing" to a present progressive verb by omitting the definite article "the," does not do this.

All but one of the answer choices that fix the parallel structure of the list introduce new errors. "Public education, health care, and new roadway construction is all areas" incorrectly uses the singular verb "is" to refer to the plural compound subject, so it is incorrect. "All areas are public education, health care, and new roadway construction" convolutes the sentence's word order and makes it confusing by making it seem as if "all areas"—all of the areas in total, not just the ones "that we desperately need to fund"—are the three listed. Only "Public education, health care, and new roadway construction are all areas" fixes the sentence's error without introducing new mistakes, making it the correct answer and the corrected sentence "Public education, health care, and new roadway construction are all areas that we desperately need to fund."

Example Question #91 : 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.

Scientists have determined that the risk factors for cardiovascular disease include family history, poor diet, and having an excess of stress.

Possible Answers:

includes family history, poor diet, and excessive stress.

tends to include family history, poor diet, and excessive stress.

include family history, poor diet, and excessive stress.

include family history, poor diet, and having an excessive amount of stress.

include family history, poor diet, and having an excess of stress.

Correct answer:

include family history, poor diet, and excessive stress.

Explanation:

The answer choice "include family history, poor diet, and excessive stress" is correct because it contains appropriate parallelism—in this case, a list of three noun phrases.

The original text "include family history, poor diet, and having an excess of stress" and the answer choice "include family history, poor diet, and having an excessive amount of stress" contain faulty parallelism—the last item in the list includes the verb "having" whereas the first two items in the list do not employ verbs. These answers are therefore incorrect.

Answer choices "includes family history, poor diet, and excessive stress" and "tends to include family history, poor diet, and excessive stress" are incorrect because they both use singular predicates for the plural subject, "risk factors for cardiovascular disease."

Example Question #91 : 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.

 

In her time, Charlotte Bronte was the most revered of the three Bronte sisters; however, she was neither arrogant or complacent about her notoriety.

Possible Answers:

most revered of the three Bronte sisters; however, she was neither arrogant or complacent about her notoriety.

most revered of the three Bronte sisters, however, she was neither arrogant nor complacent about her notoriety.

most revered of the three Bronte sisters; however, she was neither arrogant nor complacent about her notoriety.

most revered of the three Bronte sisters, however, she was neither arrogant nor complacent with regards to her notoriety.

more revered of the three Bronte sisters; however, she was neither arrogant nor complacent about her notoriety.

Correct answer:

most revered of the three Bronte sisters; however, she was neither arrogant nor complacent about her notoriety.

Explanation:

The original text contains an incorrect use of correlative conjunctions. "Neither" must be followed somewhere later in the sentence by "nor."

The answer choices "most revered of the three Bronte sisters, however, she was neither arrogant nor complacent about her notoriety" and "most revered of the three Bronte sisters, however, she was neither arrogant nor complacent with regards to her notoriety" lead to run-on sentences and are therefore incorrect.

The answer choice "more revered of the three Bronte sisters; however, she was neither arrogant nor complacent about her notoriety" incorrectly uses the comparative form "more" instead of the superlative form "most," which is appropriate when more than two entities are being compared, as in this sentence.

Only the answer choice "most revered of the three Bronte sisters; however, she was neither arrogant nor complacent about her notoriety" is correct because it uses "neither . . . nor," the superlative form "most," and does not lead to a run-on sentence.

Example Question #61 : 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 writing of Edgar Allan Poe is notably more stylized than his contemporary, Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose works Poe greatly admired.

Possible Answers:

his contemporary, Nathaniel Hawthorne, the works of whom Poe greatly admired.

his contemporary, Nathaniel Hawthorne, the works of whom Poe has greatly admired.

his contemporary, Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose works Poe has greatly admired.

that of his contemporary, Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose works Poe greatly admired.

his contemporary, Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose works Poe greatly admired.

Correct answer:

that of his contemporary, Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose works Poe greatly admired.

Explanation:

Answer choice "that of his contemporary, Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose works Poe greatly admired" is correct because it makes the appropriate comparison between the writing of Poe and the writing of Hawthorne.

All of the other answer choices compare Poe's writing to Hawthorne, the writer, and are therefore incorrect.

Example Question #92 : Other Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Many drug consumers feel that generic medicine can be as effective as, if not more effective, as some of the brand names.

Possible Answers:

as effective, if not more effective, than some brand names.

as effective, if not more effective, as some of the brand names.

as effective as, if not more effective than, some of the brand names.

as effective medicine, if not more effective, as some of the brand names.

as effective medicine, if not more effective, than some of the brand names.

Correct answer:

as effective as, if not more effective than, some of the brand names.

Explanation:

The term, if not more effective, is an interrupter; therefore, the sentence should read correctly if those words are removed.

Example Question #71 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The people traveling to California in the gold rush typically did not find success in prospecting, mining, or even to make a new life.

Possible Answers:

in prospecting, mine work, or even to make a new life.

in prospecting, mining, or even in make a new life.

in prospecting, mining, or even to make a new life.

in prospecting, mining, or even making a new life.

in prospected, mining, or even to make a new life.

Correct answer:

in prospecting, mining, or even making a new life.

Explanation:

The three elements of the list that ends the sentence are actually three different kinds of words: "prospecting" and "mining" are present-tense progressive verbs, but "to make a new life" is an infinitve phrase. Any such list needs to feature a parallel structure among the three items, so that the verb of the sentence can describe similar items. The answer choice that features an appropriate parallel structure is "in prospecting, mining, or even making a new life."

Example Question #81 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The two party system that dominates our government today is responsible for the polarization of the country and suppressing alternative viewpoints.

Possible Answers:

polarizing the country and suppressing alternative viewpoints.

polarizing the country and alternative viewpoint suppression.

the country’s polarization and suppressing alternative viewpoints.

polarizing the country and the suppression of alternative viewpoints.

the polarization of the country and suppressing alternative viewpoints.

Correct answer:

polarizing the country and suppressing alternative viewpoints.

Explanation:

The problem with this sentence is that it does not use parallel structure. The two things that the system is responsible for should be formatted in the same way: either both should be nouns or both should be "-ing" verbs. Every answer choice mixes up the format of one or the other element, but the correct answer is the only one that formats them in the same way.

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