3 Cases of Incomplete Parallel Structure

By Mark Nichol

In each of the sentences below, an action or result is described in comparison or contrast to another, but the phrasing that expresses the parallel between the two phenomena is faulty. Discussion after each example explains the problem, and revisions illustrate solutions.

1. The statue was vandalized in a similar fashion as another statue in Monterey last year.

The middle portion of this sentence presents a flawed comparison—“similar . . . as” is not valid phrasing; to repair the damage, relocate fashion so that it precedes similar and proceed to thoroughly express the comparison: “The statue was vandalized in a fashion similar to that of another act of vandalization in Monterey last year.” (Alternatively, rephrase as follows: “The damage was similar to that which occurred in another act of vandalization in Monterey last year.”)

2. U.S. federal regulators are increasingly issuing and enforcing rules in ways that differ from other countries.

Here, issuance and enforcement of rules in one nation is compared to other nations themselves rather than to these processes as they occur in other nations; the statement should be reworded to indicate this additional layer of detail: “U.S. federal regulators are increasingly issuing and enforcing rules in ways that differ from approaches in other countries.”

3. Referring to the United States, his country’s treaty ally but which has criticized his deadly drug crackdown, he elaborated on his comments.

In this sentence, the phrase “one that” better corresponds with the phrase that precedes but than the pronoun which: “Referring to the United States, his country’s treaty ally but one that has criticized his deadly drug crackdown, he elaborated on his comments.” For a more closely parallel counterpoint, retain which but apply it to the corresponding phrase as well: “Referring to the United States, which is his country’s treaty ally but which has criticized his deadly drug crackdown, he elaborated on his comments.”

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