GMAT Sentence Correction – Parallelism


Parallelism is one of the most basic rules that one needs to master in order to crack the sentence correction syllabus of GMAT. If A and B are 2 phrases or clauses we want to state together, it’s not enough that P read grammatically correct and Q reads grammatically correct. They should be parallel in construction. A very simple example is:

I like swimming while he likes to dance.

‘I like swimming’ is not parallel with ‘He likes to dance’. The right structure is ‘I like swimming while he likes dancing’. Or, ‘I like to swim while he likes to dance’.

What needs to be in parallel?

GMAT looks at your ability to correct parallelism in two phrases: Prepositional, infinitive, participal, gerund phrases that appear together.

  • Apples and oranges
  • GMAT aspirants and GRE aspirants
  • The devices of all students and teachers
  • Movies from those years and books from present contemporary writes have much in common

Markers of parallel construction:

Parallel elements are joined with a conjunction or a pair of correlative conjunctions. So,  look out for ánd’, ‘but’ór’. Other markers are ás well as’, ‘rather than’, ‘not only but also’, ‘not A but B’, ‘both A and B’, ‘either A or B’, ‘neither A not B’.

Neither Australia nor New Zealand were warned of the tsunami or equipped to deal with the aftermath of the tsunami.

Either Radha has written this or Ranjana has edited this document.

The Maltese Falcon was not just great Film Noir but was also one of the finest movies made across genres.

Assorted pointers on parallelism:

  • Make sure idioms are in parallel form.
  • Verbs in each parallel element need to be in the same tense. He came, he saw and he conquered. The verbs are all in past tense in the given sentence.
  • Verify whether nouns are in plural form throughout or in singular throughout. The dolphin is related to the whale. Dolphins are related to whales. You cannot have a sentence that relates the dolphin to whales.

Consider this question:

With companies spending large parts of their advertising budgets online, the market for content such as feature articles and opinion essays created by a professional writer, a blogger, and by individual users, are expanding rapidly.

Here, the most glaring mistake is that ‘professional writer’ and ‘blogger’ are singular while ‘individual users’ is in plural form. So, that needs to be set right.

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