SAT Writing : Identifying Parallel Structure Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #41 : 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.

Having my uncle over for dinner is never much fun; he talks loudly, makes rude comments, and, although the food is always delicious, complaining is constant about the quality of what we eat. No error

Possible Answers:

complaining is constant

Having

No error

what we eat

talks loudly

Correct answer:

complaining is constant

Explanation:

The clause "although the food is always delicious" might distract some people into missing the paralellism used, because it is set apart by commas. Considering "talks" and "makes," we see the present form of some verbs used in succession. For the best sentence structure, the final action should also follow the normal present verb form, like "talks" and "makes." "Complaining is constant" does not follow this, and so (C) contains the error. It would be best to say "complains constantly" or something similar.

Example Question #42 : 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.

It will rain tomorrow, so I will jog in the park, practice soccer, and playing baseball in my backyard today. No error

Possible Answers:

playing

will

I

will rain tomorrow

No error

Correct answer:

playing

Explanation:

This is a parallelism error. The verbs "jog" and "practice" begin the parallel elements in the sentence, and they are each in present tense. The verb "playing" should also be in present tense so that it matches "jog" and "practice." So, "playing" should be "play."

Example Question #31 : 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.

There are two things Jean knows how to do well: how to cook and mountain-climbingNo error

Possible Answers:

knows

mountain-climbing

No error

are

how to

Correct answer:

mountain-climbing

Explanation:

The sentence needs to remain parallel. If it had said "cooking," "mountain-climbing" would be ok.

Example Question #41 : 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.

At the deli, the sandwiches are very similar to the cafeteria, except they are slightly larger and contain less fat. No error

Possible Answers:

except

less fat

similar to the cafeteria

No error

slightly larger

Correct answer:

similar to the cafeteria

Explanation:

This is a faulty comparison. "Sandwiches" cannot be compared to a cafeteria. Use "similar to those at the cafeteria" or something like that instead to correct the sentence's error.

Example Question #45 : 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 must admit that your mom's chocolate chip cookies are quite tasty, but they are not as good as my grandmother—hers are the bestNo error

Possible Answers:

as my grandmother

as good

No error

must admit

at the mall

Correct answer:

as my grandmother

Explanation:

When making comparisons you must be careful to compare like things. In this case, the sentence as written makes a comparison between "cookies" and "my grandmother." You want to compare cookies to cookies. You can fix this error by making "grandmother" into a possessive, singular noun, "grandmother's." This way, it is inferred that the subject being spoken about is the speaker's grandmother's cookies, not the speaker's grandmother herself.

Example Question #61 : 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.

My niece and I followed every step of the cake recipe together, sifting the flour, separating the eggs, and we put the cake in the oven to bake. No error

Possible Answers:

of the cake recipe

we put

separating

No error

followed

Correct answer:

we put

Explanation:

This sentence contains parallelism—in this case, a set of sequential actions set off by commas. In sentences that have a parallel structure, all similar parts of speech should follow the same format. So, the list should read, "sifting the flour," "separating the eggs," and "putting it in the oven to bake." Instead, the way the sentence is currently written, "we put" inserts a needless repetition of the subject that interrupts the logical flow of the sentence by putting the verb in a different tense.

Example Question #71 : 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.

At the student art showcase, Anna enjoyed seeing her friend Zoe's abstract paintings, which she thought were more creative than other artistsNo error

Possible Answers:

Zoe's

than other artists

paintings, which

were

No error

Correct answer:

than other artists

Explanation:

The correct answer is "than other artists."  As the sentence reads, it is saying that Anna thinks her friend's art is more creative than other artists, which is an incorrect comparison; she should be comparing her friend's art to the art of other artists, not to the artists themselves.

A correct phrasing would be "At the student art showcase, Anna enjoyed seeing her friend Zoe's abstract paintings, which she thought were more creative than the works of the other artists."

Example Question #72 : 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.

On Saturday I am running, grocery shopping, cooking dinner, and will attend my friend's birthday party. No error

Possible Answers:

Saturday

friend's

cooking dinner,

will attend

No error

Correct answer:

will attend

Explanation:

The verb phrase "will attend" should be changed to "attending" because it is part of a list of "-ing" verbs, all of which need to be in the same form in order for the sentence to use proper parallel structure. Since "running," "shopping," and "cooking" are already conjugated in the same way, "will attend" should be conjugated in this way too, and therefore should be changed to "attending."

Example Question #31 : 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 woman slowly became fascinated by the aliens’ strange culture, their intelligence, and their telling of hilarious jokesNo error

Possible Answers:

No error

became fascinated by

strange

slowly

telling of hilarious jokes

Correct answer:

telling of hilarious jokes

Explanation:

This sentence lacks parallel structure between the elements in the list. Items in a list should be formatted in the same way grammatically. The corrected sentence reads, "The woman slowly became fascinated by the aliens’ strange culture, their intelligence, and their hilarious jokes."

Example Question #161 : Psat Writing Skills

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

My apartment is on a higher floor than my bossNo error

Possible Answers:

is

boss

No error

my

higher

Correct answer:

boss

Explanation:

Only like things can be compared. "My apartment" can be compared to "that of my boss" or my "boss'."

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