SAT Test Prep

CHAPTER 15
ESSENTIAL GRAMMAR SKILLS

Lesson 3: Parallelism

The Law of Parallelism


When you compare or list items in a sentence, the items should have the same grammatical form. That is, if the first item is an infinitive (or a gerund, or an adjective, etc.), the other item(s) should be, too.


The three items have different forms. The sentence sounds best if they are all gerunds.

The first item is an infinitive, but the second is a gerund. Make them the same form.

Parallel Constructions


In all constructions like the following, the words or phrases that replace A and B must be parallel.


Infinitives vs. Gerunds

Infinitives are verblike phrases like to run, to see, and to think, which usually act as nouns.

Gerunds are also verblike words, like running, seeing, and thinking, and they also often act as nouns.

What kind of word is pizza? Obviously a noun. But notice that in the sentences above, to swim (infinitive) and swimming (gerund) are playing the same role as pizza did in the first sentence. So they must be nouns too!


Usually, gerunds and infinitives are interchangeable. But in some situations, one is preferable to the other.


• The gerund often indicates a general class of activity, while the infinitive indicates a specific activity.

• The infinitive indicates a stronger connection between subject and action than does the gerund.

Does Cara simply like to watch dancing, or does she herself do the dancing?

This sentence clearly indicates that Cara herself dances.

• The infinitive often indicates purpose or intention better than does the gerund.

Concept Review 3: Parallelism

1. In what situations do you have to obey the law of parallelism?

In each of the sentences below, circle the words or phrases that are parallel, then write the form of those words or phrases (adjectives, prepositional phrases, gerunds, infinitives, nouns, etc.) in the blank.

Complete each of the sentences below with the appropriate word or phrase—infinitive or gerund—using the given verb.

7. (exercise) _______________ is essential, but so is (eat) _______________ _____ intelligently.

8. The purpose of this trip is (show) _______________ _____ you what life was like in the 18th century.

9. I have always loved (dance) _______________ _____ , although my condition has always prevented me from doing it myself.

10. Is it better (study) _______________ _____ a little each night, or a lot the night before?

11. The director called a meeting (discuss) _______________ _____ the coordination of the marketing phase.

Correct any infinitive/gerund problems in the sentences below.

12. The defendant was unwilling to give up his right of having his lawyer present at all questioning.

13. I would not dream to try out for the team until I have learned to throw a football.

14. Even the reinforced concrete breakwater could not prevent the water to inundate the village.

15. Within the next three weeks, we plan having all of the work on the roof completed.

Fix the parallelism errors in the following sentences.

16. I like working with Miss Bennett because she is very supportive and has a lot of knowledge.

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17. I can’t decide whether I should give Maria the tickets or Caitlyn.

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18. The movie was both beautifully directed and the acting was a joy to watch.

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Worksheet 3: Parallelism

In the following sentences, circle all parts that should be parallel, and correct any problems.

1. Personal digital assistants can be not only practical, but also entertain for hours on end.

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2. Filling out applications for summer jobs is about as much fun as when you take the SAT.

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3. My lab partners were more concerned about getting the lab done quickly than about what grade they might get.

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4. To say she is excitable is like saying Bill Gates is well off.

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5. The sheer magnitude of the structure was awesome, but I thought the aesthetics were less than appealing.

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6. The elegance of a proof lies more in its conciseness and clarity than in how clever it is.

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7. I bought my tickets, reserved the hotel room, and I planned the itinerary myself.

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8. We had to build our own shelters, orient ourselves without instruments, and we even had to hunt and gather our own food.

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9. The rebels were neither disciplined nor did they have any overall strategy.

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10. She was concerned not only with getting good grades, but also wanted to understand the material.

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11. Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome tend to exhibit lethargy, a reduced affect, and they often feel depressed.

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12. Taxpayers often prefer to pay high property taxes to the paying of high sales taxes.

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13. Riding that roller coaster was like a trip over a waterfall in a barrel.

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14. As a teacher, she loved to inspire creativity in her students, even more than she loved receiving accolades.

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Answer Key 3: Parallelism

Concept Review 3

1. when comparing or listing things in a sentence

2. by mail; by phone; on the web prepositional phrases

3. having; working gerunds

4. you get to know her; you will like her clauses

5. exceptionally fresh; reasonably priced adverb-adjectives

6. concert; 3-hour nightmare nouns

7. Exercising is essential, but so is eating intelligently.

8. The purpose of this trip is to show you what life was like in the 18th century. The infinitive shows purpose more effectively than the gerund does.

9. I have always loved dancing, although my condition has always prevented me from doing it myself. Since the speaker cannot dance, the infinitive is inappropriate.

10. Is it better to study a little each night, or a lot the night before? The infinitive shows a clearer link between the action and a particular subject.

11. The director called a meeting to discuss the coordination of the marketing phase. The infinitive shows purpose more effectively than the gerund does.

12. The defendant was unwilling to give up his right to have his lawyer present at all questioning.

13. I would not dream of trying out for the team until I have learned to throw a football.

14. Even the reinforced concrete breakwater could not prevent the water from inundating the village.

15. Within the next three weeks, we plan to have all of the work on the roof completed.

16. I like working with Miss Bennett because she is very supportive and knowledgeable.

17. I can’t decide whether I should give the tickets to Maria or Caitlyn.

18. The movie’s directing was beautiful and the acting was a joy to watch.


Worksheet 3

1. Personal digital assistants can be not only practical, but also entertaining for hours on end.

2. Filling out applications for summer jobs is about as much fun as taking the SAT.

3. My lab partners were more concerned about getting the lab done quickly than about getting a good grade.

4. Saying she is excitable is like saying Bill Gates is well off.

5. The sheer magnitude of the structure was awesome, but (omit I thoughtthe aesthetics were less than appealing.

6. The elegance of a proof lies more in its conciseness and clarity than in its cleverness.

7. I bought my tickets, reserved the hotel room, and (omit Iplanned the itinerary myself.

8. We had to build our own shelters, orient ourselves without instruments, and even hunt and gather our own food.

9. The rebels lacked both discipline and overall strategy.

10. She was concerned not only with getting good grades, but also with understanding the material.

11. Patients with CFS tend to exhibit lethargy, a reduced affect, and often depression.

12. Taxpayers often prefer paying high property taxes to paying high sales taxes.

13. Riding that roller coaster was like taking a trip over a waterfall in a barrel.

14. As a teacher, she loved inspiring creativity in her students, even more than (omit she lovedreceiving accolades.