Sentence Structure Exercise (334)

From each pair, choose the sentence with the balanced structure.

    1.
    Formerly, high school textbooks were paid for by the student’s family; now the government pays for them.
    Formerly, high school textbooks were paid for by the student’s family; now they are paid for by the government.

    2.
    Harold enjoys gardening in spring, summer, or fall.
    Harold enjoys gardening in spring, summer, or in fall.

    3.
    Jere’s graduation ceremony was both long and tedious.
    Jere’s graduation was both a long ceremony and very tedious.

    4.
    You must either pay your rent on time or move out.
    Either you must pay your rent on time or move out.

    5.
    Adam has a dog whose mouth is twice as big as my dog’s.
    Adam has a dog whose mouth is twice as big as my dog.

Answers and Explanations

1. Formerly, high school textbooks were paid for by the student’s family; now they are paid for by the government.
There’s no reason to alter the structure of the clause that follows the semicolon: "Subject-passive verb-prepositional phrase. "The poorly balanced sentence changes the structure by using active voice in the second clause.

2. Harold enjoys gardening in spring, summer, or fall.
An article or a preposition that applies to all the members of a series must either be used before the first item only, or be used before all of the items in the series: "in spring, summer, or fall" or "in spring, in summer, or in fall."

3. Jere’s graduation ceremony was both long and tedious.
A correlative expression like "both, and" requires a balanced construction. "Both a long ceremony" is a noun modified by an adjective; "very tedious" is an adjective modified by an adverb. In the correct sentence, "both" is followed by single adjectives joined by the "and."

4. You must either pay your rent on time or move out.
"Either, or" is another correlative conjunction. It should be followed by the options being presented: "Either pay the rent or move out." Putting the "either" before the subject "you" unbalances the sentence.

5. Adam has a dog whose mouth is twice as big as my dog’s.
Here the unbalanced sentence fails to match the possessive "whose mouth" with another possessive: "collie’s." (The shepherd’s mouth is bigger than the mouth of the collie, not bigger than the collie.)

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