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Current time:0:00Total duration:5:38

Writing: Parallel Structure — Video lesson

Writing: Grammar

Video transcript

- [Instructor] Let's take a look at question four here. Electronic health records provide many advantages over paper ones. They don't require physical storage space. They don't need to be photocopied and collated, and they are less likely to be physically misplaced. And our choices are A, no change. They are B, because they are. C being, and D Delete the underlined portion. All right, so this sentence introduces three advantages. The first one is they don't require physical storage space. The second one is they don't need to be photocopied and collated, and the third one is they are less likely to be physically misplaced. This sounds pretty good as is, so I'm leaning towards the no change option to begin with, but just to be sure, I'm going to apply a grammar rule that I always use when setting up lists of phrases, and that's parallel structure. Parallel structure is this idea that when two or more words, phrases, or clauses are linked they should share the same structure. Verb form should match, phrase structure should match, and modifiers like adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions phrases should also match. So for example, this is not parallel. She ran her business briskly, efficiently, and with speed. That's not parallel, but this is. She ran her business briskly, efficiently, and speedily. I wanted to make them all match, so I changed with speed to speedily. I turned it into an adverb to match briskly and efficiently. And that's parallel structure in a nutshell, make a match. On test day, you'll see one to two questions that require you to identify and avoid parallel structures in the underlined portions of sentences. Let's go over some top tips to handle parallel structure questions. So top tip, make them match. If you notice that a sentence is creating a set of two or more elements, try to make the structure of each underlined element match the structure of the others. So if the structure goes, noun, noun, adjective, and the adjective is underlined, change the adjective to a noun to match the others. The next top tip, avoid unnecessary repetition. One way parallel structure errors crop up is when sentence elements come up twice unnecessarily. So if we look at "The hobbits packed their bags with mushrooms, biscuits, and with cheese," we can see how with introduces the whole list, and it applies to all three items, mushrooms, biscuits, and cheese. And that means that the with right before cheese is redundant and it can be removed. Leaving us with, The hobbits pack their bags with mushrooms, biscuits, and cheese. Our final top tip is to focus on what you can change. Parallel structure questions will underline only part of a sentence. Your job is to match the parts of the sentence you can change, the underlined part, to the parts of the sentence you cannot change. That sounds simple enough, but it's easy to get lost in the weeds with questions like these. Preassembled meal kits are cheaply, healthily, and convenient, especially when compared to take out. And this one's a little tougher, right? Because the adverbs cheaply and healthily are parallel with each other, but they're underlined and convenient is not. So we have to take our cues from convenient, which is an adjective. And that means we have to change the underlying adverbs into adjectives to maintain parallel structure with convenient, giving us, Preassembled meal kits are cheap, healthy, and convenient, especially when compared to take out. Okay, so let's take these top tips and apply them to our question. If you'd like, pause the video here and try it on your own. All right, let's do it together. Electronic medical records don't require physical storage space. They don't need to be photocopied and collated, and they are less likely to be physically misplaced. Okay, so in the part of this list that isn't underlined, I'm noticing a pattern. They don't do this. They don't do this. They are that. If there were a third they don't option, believe me, I'd jump on it, but I don't see one choices. So what matches that pattern? They are, choice A, kind of matches it, let's leave it in. Choice B, because they are. This has the they verb construct, but introduces a because, which breaks the pattern. Cross it off, simple as that. Choice C, being. Let's plug it back into the sentence. They don't need to be photocopied and collated, and being less likely to be physically misplaced. This breaks the pattern and breaks the parallel structure. Nope, let's cross it off. Choice D, delete the underlined portion. All right, let's see what this does. They don't need to be photocopied and collated and less likely to be physically misplaced. This doesn't match that they verb structure. So bye-bye D. And that leaves us with A, the one choice that maintains a parallel structure with the other items on the list. Let's review the strategy. When you're looking at structured elements in a list, first identify the parallel structure. What's happening in the sentence, and is it being interrupted? Next focus on the parts you can change. How can you make the underlined portion match the part of the sentence that isn't underlined, and finally avoid unnecessary repetition. Eliminate extra words that would spoil the parallel structure, or result in grammar errors. Good luck out there, you've got this.