Parallel Structure Exercise (372)

Choose the better-balanced sentence in each pair.

    1.
    I look forward to three things on Friday evening: to have a good supper, to watch a good movie, and staying up late.
    I look forward to three things on Friday evening: to have a good supper, to watch a good movie, and to stay up late.

    2.
    James Rockford has good-natured wit, genuine compassion, and unshakable loyalty.
    James Rockford has good-natured wit, genuine compassion, and loyalty.

    3.
    Earth to Echo is slow, amateurish, and we found it offensive.
    Earth to Echo is slow, amateurish, and offensive.

    4.
    While you’re at Sam’s, remember to pick up my prescription, buy some half-and-half, and to look for some grapes.
    While you’re at Sam’s, remember to pick up my prescription, to buy some half-and-half, and to look for some grapes.

    5.
    To paint lawn furniture, remove the rust, apply the primer, and finish by spraying the final coat.
    To paint lawn furniture, remove the rust, apply the primer, and spray the final coat.

Answers and Explanations

1. I look forward to three things on Friday evening: to have a good supper, to watch a good movie, and to stay up late.
The list in the correct sentence joins three infinitive phrases: "to have," "to watch," and "to stay up." The incorrect list mixes two infinitive phrases with a present participle, staying.

2. James Rockford has good-natured wit, genuine compassion, and unshakable loyalty.
To balance, the three nouns in the list should all be preceded by an adjective.

3. Earth to Echo is slow, amateurish, and offensive.
The balanced sentence has three adjectives; the list in the unbalanced sentence begins with two adjectives, but finishes with a clause.

4. While you’re at Sam’s, remember to pick up my prescription, to buy some half-and-half, and to look for some grapes.
Because the particle to is included with the verb infinitives "to pick up" and "to look for," it should also be included with the verb buy.

5. To paint lawn furniture, remove the rust, apply the primer, and spray the final coat.
Because the first two elements in the list have the pattern of verb +object, the third element should follow the pattern: "remove rust," "apply primer," "spray coat."

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