3 Sentences That Lack Just One Word to Be Correct

By Mark Nichol

The solution to problems of parallel structure, in which a sentence’s syntactical elements are not quite balanced, is often simply a matter of inserting one missing word. That’s the case in the following examples, each of which is followed by a discussion and a revision.

1. The industry uses decades-old technology that is very expensive, very slow, and provides no tracking capabilities.

Because as the sentence is written, the verb is cannot apply to all three characteristics listed after it, one of two one-word changes must be made. The first solution is to share the verb between “very expensive” and “very slow”: “The industry uses decades-old technology that is very expensive and very slow and provides no tracking capabilities.” The alternative is to insert a second is into the middle phrase in the list: “The industry uses decades-old technology that is very expensive, is very slow, and provides no tracking capabilities.”

2. The diversity of participants and energy evident at the event underscores the massive disruption that’s taking place in this business sector.

This sentence reads as if it refers to the diversity of two things—participants and energy. But the diversity refers only to the participants, so energy needs its own preceding article to set it apart from that idea: “The diversity of participants and the energy evident at the event underscores the massive disruption that’s taking place in this business sector.”

3. Formally assess the risks associated with each third-party lending relationships when initiating the relationship, when the third party’s operations change significantly, or the institution’s own lending operations change over time.

The three elements in the second half of this message must match syntactically, but only the first two include when, so another reiteration should occur: “Formally assess the risks associated with each third-party lending relationships when initiating the relationship, when the third party’s operations change significantly, or when the institution’s own lending operations change over time.”

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4 Responses to “3 Sentences That Lack Just One Word to Be Correct”

  • Tim Slager

    In example 2, shouldn’t the verb be “underscore” to accommodate the compound subject?

    In example 3, shouldn’t it be “each…relationship”?

  • Earl Owens

    I was going to make the same comment as Tim Slager, but he beat me to it. Thanks for all the fine work you do!

  • Lynn

    Ditto Tim’s comment.

  • Rick

    I was wondering about this too. Thank you so much for Daily Writing Tips. I look forward to it every morning!

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