TOEFL iBT Grammar: Parallellism and Speaking and Writing Tasks

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT Exam!” 

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Part of being a good writer and speaker of English is an attempt to make language as even and as balanced as possible. This attempt to keep language balanced is called parallel structure. The following sentence is not parallel:

  • *I like running and to hike.* incorrect
  • I like running and hiking. or I like to run and to hike. correct

In the above example the gerund “running” is parallel to “hiking,” and, in the second example, the infinitive “to run” is parallel to “to hike.”

Using parallel structures during the speaking and writing portions of the TOEFL iBT will demonstrate to TOEFL iBT human raters that you have accurate control of using advanced grammar structures. In effect, you will score higher on the TOEFL iBT if you use parallel stuctures with a minimum number of errors.

Nonetheless, many languages differ in terms of their grammar structures, and these differences may cause TOEFL iBT test-takers to have numerous errors. The following two sentences exemplify a subtle error in parallel structure and a revised version of that sentence.

1. Incorrect: Not only will students complete their research papers next week but will also give an oral presentation of their findings.

2. Correct: Not only will students complete their research papers next week, but they will also give an oral presentation of their findings. Or Students will not only complete their research papers next week but will also give an oral presentation of their findings.

So, how do you improve in this area? A regular routine of reading academic English will get you more used to parallel structures. Additionally, pay close attention to your speech and writing, especially as they relate to the following troublespots: conjunctions, comparisons, two adjectives, two phrases, two clauses, and conjunctions occuring in pairs.

For information, go here:

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT Exam!” 

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