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Parallelism

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. 

Read the original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  After you have read the whole sentence, quickly check the underlined portions of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  When you think you have found an error, mark it.  Quickly check to see whether there is an error in any of the remaining answer choices before moving to the next question.

As a Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall was known for his quest to end racial discrimination, his opposition to the death penalty, and he supported free speech and civil liberties. No error

(A) Think about the function of the word “as” in this sentence.  It is part of an introductory phrase and lets you know the context of the sentence.   You are not concerned with Thurgood Marshall as a private citizen; you are only interested in Thurgood Marshall “as” a Supreme Court justice.  The “as” represents an essential part of the information that you are given in this sentence, and it does not need to be changed in any way.

(B)  You have probably heard from your English teachers that you should avoid the passive voice.  Although “was known for” is in passive voice, it is not an error.  If you changed “was known for” to an active verb, you would change the meaning of the sentence from emphasizing Thurgood Marshall’s reputation to emphasizing his actions.  The “was” is singular and matches “Thurgood Marshall,” while “for” is the idiomatically correct preposition to use after “known,” so there is no error in this portion of the sentence.

(C) When you reach a series of things that are listed, check the parts of the list that are not underlined so that you know how each part of the list must be presented to be parallel.  The first element in this list is “his quest,” and the second element is “his opposition.”  These two things are listed in the same format.  You also know that the correct preposition to follow “opposition” is the word “to.” Expressing that someone is opposed “to” something is idiomatically correct.  There is no error here.

(D) After the “and,” you know that you have the final element in the list.  However, this time you have a problem when you check parallelism.  The first item is “his quest,” the second item is “his opposition,” and the third item is “he supported.”  In order for this list to be parallel, the third item should be “his support of free speech and civil liberties.”

(E) This answer cannot be correct because you found an error involving parallelism.

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 69% of the responses were correct.

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