Parallel Structure

The SAT will occasionally test you on putting a sentence into proper parallel structure.

Example: Martin Luther King Jr. is admired for his courage, his dedication, and being intelligent.

A) NO CHANGE
B) and for his being intelligent.
C) and his intelligence.
D) and intelligence.

Hint: It can be difficult to identify parallel structure questions. If you’re unsure what a question on Section 2 is testing you on, think this!

Strategy:

  1. Read the entire sentence.
  2. Search for the component of the sentence that the underlined portion should match with.
  3. Identify if there are any shared words (like ‘to’ being shared by several components).
  4. Match the styles.

Items in a series or list must be parallel in form.  Series and lists may consist of nouns, adverbs, adjectives, or verb forms.

WRONG: I love skippingjumping, and to play baseball.
WRONG: I love to skipjump, and to play baseball.
RIGHT:  I love to skipjump, and play baseball.
RIGHT:  I love to skipto jump, and to play baseball.
RIGHT:  I love skippingjumping, and playing baseball.

WRONG: To visualize success is not the same as achieving it.
RIGHT:  To visualize success is not the same as to achieve it.
RIGHT:  Visualizing success is not the same as achieving it.

Parallelism Exercise

Make all appropriate items in the following sentences parallel.

Mozart’s contributions to western music include the introduction of new instruments such as the oboe, the refinement of the symphonic form, and emphasizing melody.

Letting children make their own decisions is to be a good parent.

After training at an obedience school, my dog is able to sit, to heel, and plays dead.

The talk show host promised to stop exploiting his guests, cease covering sensational stories, and that substantial issues would become his top priority.