Perhaps the sneakiest questions in the SAT and ACT grammar sections (see the SAT example below) pertain to parallelism. Some questions turn on a missing "the." There are lots of rules about parallelism, but the following is as good as any for a pre-test snack:
Harbrace Rule 26c: Use parallel structures with correlatives (both ... and; either ... or; neither ... nor; not only ... but also; whether ... or).
In other words, the two items connected by "not only . . . but also" and other constructions showing "co-relativity," must be similar in kind.
Faulty: Either they work or are fired.
Parallel: Either they work or they are fired.
Faulty: Whether at home or when at work he was always busy.
Parallel: Whether at home or at work, he was always busy.
Faulty: Not only practicing at 6 a.m. during the week, but the team also scrimmages on Sunday afternoons.
Parallel: The team not only practices at 6 a.m. during the week but also scrimmages on Sunday afternoons.
Wrong: He not only painted the "Annunciation" but also [painted] the "Mona Lisa."
Right: He painted not only the "Annunciation" but also the "Mona Lisa."
Wrong: He not only played for Washington but also for Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Right: He played not only for Washington but also for Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Wrong: He not only coached soccer but also tennis.
Right: He coached not only soccer but also tennis.
Right: He taught not only physics and chemistry but also algebra and geometry.
Right: He not only taught five periods a day but also coached three sports.
SAT Question of the Day™
FEBRUARY 3, 2005
Part of the following sentence is underlined; beneath the sentence are five ways of phrasing the underlined material. Select the option that produces the best sentence. If you think the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select choice A.
With the 1977 publication of Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison both received popular and critical acclaim.
a) both received popular and
b) both received popular and also
c) received popular, along with
d) received popular as well as
e) received both popular and also