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Parallelism

Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

Your best method of attacking identifying sentence error questions is to read the original sentence to yourself, listening for anything that sounds odd.  If you do not immediately spot an error, check each underlined portion of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Always remember that there might not be an error in the sentence.

When people gave up the hunter-gatherer way of life and began to cultivate the soil and grow their food, they often became less mobile, built more substantial residences, and they developed more effective means of storage. No error

(A) underlines the word “when.”  If this word is at the beginning of a clause, it creates a dependent clause.  Your sentence structure rules inform you that a dependent clause must be supported by an independent clause.  If you take out the dependent clause (When…food), the rest of the sentence is able to stand alone.  There is no error.  (B) includes the word “became.”  The first thing that you should do when you see a verb is to check that it matches the subject as well as the tense of any previous verbs.  The phrase “people became” is fine, and the word “became” is consistent with the verb “gave up.” The word “less” is also the correct modifier for the word “mobile” because only two things are being compared (hunter-gathers and farmers).  (C) begins the last part of a list of three things.  Any list that you are given must be in parallel format, so check this rule first by examining the format of each listed thing.  The list says that the people “became..,” “built…” and “they…”  (verb, verb, pronoun).  This portion of the list is not in parallel format because it includes an unnecessary pronoun.  Delete the word “they,” and this portion of the list will also begin with a verb (developed).  Mark this error and quickly check (D).  (D) is correct because “more” is used to compare two things (hunter-gathers and farmers) rather than the word “most.” The word “means” is fine because it can be defined as a method (a means to an end), even though this word has many meanings.  (E) cannot be correct because you already identified an error.

The correct answer is (C).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 56% of the responses were correct.

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