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Test PrepACTEnglishParallel Structure

ACT English Skill Review: Parallel Structure

When you join two or more ideas—in the form of words, phrases, or even clauses—in a sentence (usually with the help of a conjunction), the ideas you connect must be parallel. In other words, the grammatical structure of each one must be the same.

For example: Michelle is kind, helpful, and likes puppies. This example is not parallel because we’re joining two adjectives (kind and helpful) and one verb (likes). Each item in the list must employ the same grammatical structure. Thus, to correct the sentence, you could write either of the following:

Michelle is kind, is helpful, and likes puppies. (three verbs)
Michelle is kind, helpful, and loving. (three adjectives)


Here are a few examples of how this grammar rule might be tested on the ACT.


Answers and Explanations

  1. The correct answer is D. In the original sentence, an adjective and noun (a loving character) follow the not only part of the correlating conjunction, but a subject and verb (is a strong character) follow the but part of the correlating conjunction. Instead, we need an adjective and noun to follow but. Note that the correct answer is also the shortest, as is often the case in the “improving sentences” questions.
  2. The correct answer is I. In the original sentence, you have a list of Grandpa’s favorite activities, three of which are verb clauses (taking walks, having dinner, going to museums) and one is a noun (classical music). This list is not parallel. Choice G makes three of the activities into nouns, but the first (taking walks) remains a verb clause. Choice H changes the first activity to a noun form (country walks) to match classical music but doesn’t fix the middle two activities (having dinner out and going to museums). Choice I, however, simply fixes the problem by changing classical music to listing to classical music, making it match the rest of the list.



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