GED Reasoning Through Language Arts Practice Test: Sentences & Paragraphs

When sentences lists two or more words, phrases, or clauses these items must be in the same grammatical form.  This is called parallel structure and makes sentences flow better and easier to understand.

Examples:

Phineas likes to play saxophone, drive motorcycles, and painting pictures.

In this sentence, painting pictures is not in the same grammatical form.  The correct way is as follows:

Phineas likes to play saxophone, drive motorcycles, and paint pictures.

Running and to swim are excellent cardio workouts.

In this sentence, to swim is not in the same grammatical form.  The correct way is as follows:

Running and swimming are excellent cardio workouts.

In order to make sure sentences have parallel structure, check to see that verbs have the same form and tense.

Example:

Phil walked to the store, bought running shoes, and had run the track.

In this sentence, had run is not consistent with the other verbs in the sentence.  It should read as follows:

Phil walked to the store, bought running shoes, and ran the track.

Phrases also need to be in parallel form and in wording.  For example, if one phrase in the list begins with a preposition, then the others also need to.  If one phrase in the list begins with the word the, then so must the others.

Examples:

Byron picked up the hammer, saw, and the wood off the floor.

This sentence should read as follows:

Byron picked up the hammer, the saw, and the wood off the floor.

Lists in sentences must have single words, short phrases, or clauses.  Never put single words and clauses together in the same series.

Example:

The best tools for the toolbox are a hammer, a wrench, a screwdriver, and something that measures in inches and feet.

This sentence should read as follows:

The best tools for the toolbox are a hammer, a wrench, a screwdriver, and a tape measure.

Commas are used to separate ideas.  Note that a comma is used when in a list of three or more items:

a hammer, a wrench, a screwdriver, and a tape measure.

ORGANIZING PARAGRAPHS

Paragraph is a group of sentences that relate to one main idea.  In order for writing to be clear and organized, the sentences must be arranged to support the topic sentence.

Example:

Routine maintenance on your car will prolong the life of your vehicle.  It is important to change the oil regularly and get occasional tune-ups for optimal performance.  I love driving my car to the beach.  Checking tires for wear and proper inflation will ensure safe driving.  Also, regular maintenance on your car will help to avoid major breakdowns and will save money in the long run.  Faithfully performing scheduled maintenance will keep your car reliable and safe.

In this paragraph, the main idea is: regular maintenance on your car will make it last longer. However, the sentence I love driving my car to the beach, does not support the main idea and does not belong.

When the main idea of a paragraph changes or shifts a new paragraph should begin.  This helps bring attention to the new idea and helps the flow of the writing.

Example:

1)The Civil War was a time of great turmoil in American history. 2) It was the deadliest war in the history of the young American republic. 3) Many people were angry and emotions ran high. 4) Families were divided by conflicting allegiances. 5) Each bloody and horrific battle brought tragic news to thousands of families.  6)It was a time that tested the very existence of the United States of America.  7)Since the Civil War, America has endured several wars large and small.  8)Most of these wars have been fought in the 20th century. 9) In fact, since 2002, America has been at war continuously.

In the above paragraph, sentence #7 is where the main idea changes from the impact of the Civil War to the history of war in America.  As a result, a new paragraph would be appropriate.

Sometimes the ideas in two paragraphs really belong in one.

Example:

Making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is easy.  First, get two slices of your favorite bread and set each slice next to each other.  Decide which kind of peanut butter you like: chunky or smooth.  Using a butter knife spread the peanut butter evenly on one piece of the bread.

Next, choose which flavor you prefer for jelly or jam since there are several flavors.  Using the butter knife once again spread the jam/jelly evenly on the remaining piece of bread.  Put the two slices together and there you have it:  A peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

The paragraphs above really should be combined into one paragraph.

 

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