SAT Hub

# Parallelism

When you list two or more things in a sequence, they must be in EXACTLY the same grammatical format, or they are NOT PARALLEL.

Wrong: I took the job for the extra money and to increase my status.

If you’re listing even two things in a sentence, they need to be identically formatted.

Correct: I took the job for the extra money and for the improved status

Important Rule: When you’re listing things out or comparing them,  make sure the verbiage used to describe them is as repetitive as possible.

Wrong: I like Melissa because she seems so sweet and for her beautiful eyes.

Correct: I like Melissa because she seems so sweet and because she has such beautiful eyes.

##### Example 1To complete the music program, a student must present one vocal performance, one instrumental performance, and composing one original work. A. NO CHANGEB. and one original compositionC. with one original compositionD. and to compose one original workSolution: The phrase “and composing one original work” is one of three things that a student must present to complete the music program. We want the last item in the list to match the other two items as closely as possible. The answer is B. The phrase “and one original composition” matches the construction. ‍

Another Rule: When making lists of any kind (pretty much any time you use the word ‘and’), try to make your sentences as parallel as possible.

Wrong: I like you because you’re a great guy and good at pool.

Correct: I like you because you’re a great guy and because you’re good at pool.

If this sounds unnatural, it’s because people rarely speak like this anymore. But, it is grammatically correct.

## Parallel Structure with Multiple Sentences

So far, we’ve looked at parallel structure within a single sentence. The SAT, however, may also test your ability to recognize and create parallel structure when more than one sentence is involved. Although these questions may initially seem very complicated, they can actually be relatively simple to answer if you know what information to focus on.

### Parallel Markers

How do we know that parts of a sentence need to be parallel to each other? Often, we can use Parallel Markers - words that link or contrast items and that force those items to be parallel.

Wrong: The college experience is not only an exciting time to meet new people and also a stressful one because of the level of independence required.

Correct: The college experience is not only an exciting time to meet new people but also a stressful one because of the level of independence required.

Pair errors like the one above are freebies on the SAT as long as you remember to check for them.

As covered earlier in this chapter, just remember that whenever you have a paired construction, the two things being paired should be as parallel as possible Parallel Elements.

## Comparisons

Comparisons are a form of parallelism that deserves special attention. As the name indicates, comparisons compare two parts of the sentence.

To spot comparisons, you must first learn certain signal words or phrases. Once you find a comparison, identify the two parts of the sentence that are being compared to each other.

### Comparison Signals

#### The most important comparison signals are Like, Unlike, As, and Than. Whenever you see one of these four words, stop and find the two items being compared. Other common comparison signals are listed below:

• Like
• Unlike
• More than
• Less than
• Faster than
• Different from
• In contrast to/with
• As
• As<word> as</word>
• As much as
• As little as
• As fast as
• The same as

Two general types of comparison errors can arise:

### 1. Terms Being Compared Must Be the Same

When directly comparing two terms, those terms need to be parallel to each other. Comparisons have to be parallel. That is, they must compare similar things.

Wrong: Frank’s build, LIKE his brother, is broad and muscular.

What two things are being compared? As written, the sentence is comparing Frank’s build directly to his brother, not his brother’s build. This is not a logical comparison. In order to correct this error, we need to change the comparison.

Correct: Frank’s build, LIKE his brother’s, is broad and muscular.

Let’s look at a harder EXAMPLE: Beethoven’s music, which broke a number of established rules with its structure and melodic form, is considered more revolutionary than Bach.

First, let’s find the comparison signal: MORE revolutionary THAN....

Now we look for the two things being compared. It is often easier to find the second thing, which follows the comparison signal: More revolutionary than Bach. So, what is more revolutionary than Bach?

The subject of the sentence: Beethoven’s music. This comparison is not parallel.

Correct: Beethoven’s music, which broke a number of established rules with its structure and melodic form, is considered MORE revolutionary THAN BACH’S.

Note again that we do not have to repeat the word music, as long as we have written Bach’s.

### 2. Comparisons with Possessive Nouns and Pronouns

This type of error appears when possessive nouns or phrases (e.g. “the _ of _”) are in play.

Wrong: Which is larger, the population of New York or Los Angeles?

This sentence compares “the population of New York” with the entire city “Los Angeles.” We can fix this error by adding “the population of” before “Los Angeles,” or revising the sentence so that the information specifying population size appears before the comparison.

Correct: Which is larger, the population of New York or that of Los Angeles?

Correct: Which is larger, the population of New York or the population of Los Angeles?

Let’s try a more complex EXAMPLE:

Wrong: Wandering around the furniture store, she decided that while burgundy and taupe would work well in her living room, the bright aquamarine lampshade would probably hog the spotlight.

This complex comparison involves the colors “burgundy” and “taupe” and “the bright aquamarine lampshade,” a tangible item. To fix this sentence, we need to either adjust “the bright aquamarine lampshade” to refer to just a color (e.g. “bright aquamarine”) or change “burgundy” and “taupe” so that they specify tangible items (e.g. “the burgundy drapes” & “the taupe carpet”).

Correct: Wandering around the furniture store, she decided that while burgundy and taupe would work well in her living room, bright aquamarine would probably hog the spotlight.