Parallel Construction Exercise (183)

Parallel construction refers to using words, phrases, and clauses in balanced patterns. An example of faulty parallel construction is: "Rather than read, Frank prefers swimming, jogging, or to play tennis." All three object words are of the same importance, so they should match. One possible solution: "Rather than read, Frank prefers swimming, jogging, or playing tennis."

Choose the sentence with correct parallel construction.

    1.
    Forgetting my cell phone is as bad as leaving my wallet in the department store.
    Forgetting my cell phone is as bad as when I left my wallet in the department store.

    2.
    Why are there so many stories in the news media about violent crime and lying politicians?
    Why is it that the news media is so full of stories about crime and there are politicians who lie?

    3.
    An athlete competing for Olympic gold can hardly be compared to creating and running a business.
    Competing for Olympic gold can hardly be compared to creating and running a business.

    4.
    To get ahead in life, a wise man once advised working hard, playing by the rules, and help others at every opportunity.
    To get ahead in life, a wise man once advised to work hard, to play by the rules, and to help others at every opportunity.

    5.
    Before my trip abroad I have so much to do, such as shop for new clothes, buy my tickets, and figure out my itinerary.
    Before my trip abroad I have so much to do, such as shopping for new clothes, buying my tickets, and figure out my itinerary.

Answers and Explanations

1. Forgetting my cell phone is as bad as leaving my wallet in the department store.
Both forgetting and leaving are gerunds (nouns created from verbs) and thus are parallel.

2. Why are there so many stories in the news media about violent crime and lying politicians?
Both crime and politicians are objects of the preposition about. They are both nouns, modified by the adjectives that precede them.

3. Competing for Olympic gold can hardly be compared to creating and running a business.
In the incorrect sentence athlete is the subject and competing for Olympic gold is a participle phrase that modifies it. In the correct sentence Competing is a gerund, which functions as the subject, and is compared with two other gerunds, creating and running, which function as objects of the preposition to.

4. To get ahead in life, a wise man once advised to work hard, to play by the rules, and to help others at every opportunity.
The infinitives to work, to play, and to help are all of the same construction. In the first sentence the infinitive to help prevents it from having a parallel construction. However, the use of the gerunds working, playing, and helping would result in the desired parallel construction.

5. Before my trip abroad I have so much to do, such as shop for new clothes, buy my tickets, and figure out my itinerary.
The verbs shop, buy, and figure create a parallel construction.

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