Parallel Structure Exercise (503)

Pick the sentence version with logical grammatical syntax.

    1.
    The dog’s bark is louder than a chain saw, a clap of thunder, and just a hair quieter than the takeoff of a military jet.
    The dog’s bark is louder than a chain saw or thunder and just a hair quieter than a military jet taking off.

    2.
    The incident was filmed and viewed on YouTube millions of times.
    The incident, which was filmed and posted to YouTube, was viewed millions of times.

    3.
    What if your phone is lost, stolen, or malfunctions?
    What if your phone is lost or stolen or it malfunctions?

    4.
    The biography provides a comprehensive picture of Churchill as soldier, writer, politician, war leader, and husband, and ultimately as a man.
    The biography provides a comprehensive picture of Churchill as politician, writer, soldier, husband, war leader, and ultimately as a man.

    5.
    JFK’s handling of the Cold War, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, and America’s domination of the space race all made him look good.
    The Cold War, handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the space race all made JFK look good.

Answers and Explanations

1. The dog’s bark is louder than a chain saw or thunder and just a hair quieter than a military jet taking off.
The incorrect sentence has two problems: "A clap of thunder," unlike the other two elements of the sentence, which include the comparatives "louder" and "quieter," is mentioned in isolation, without any frame of reference; to remedy that inconsistency, the connective "or" replaces the distinguishing comma.

2. The incident, which was filmed and posted to YouTube, was viewed millions of times.
The structure of the incorrect sentence implies that "millions of times" refers not only to the number of times the incident was viewed but also the number of times it was filmed. Parenthesizing the fact of filming (and posting) in isolation from the reference to viewing clarifies the meaning. "The incident was filmed and was later viewed on YouTube millions of times" is an alternative revision.

3. What if your phone is lost or stolen or it malfunctions?
The first possibility is accompanied by the helping verb "is," and the third one is described with an action verb, but the list is not parallel, because "stolen" lacks a helping verb. The revision pairs that word with lost to share "is," and a pronoun is introduced before "malfunctions" to emphasize that "lost or stolen" and "malfunctions" are distinct items.

4. The biography provides a comprehensive picture of Churchill as soldier, writer, politician, war leader, and husband, and ultimately as a man.
The presence of the second "as" distinguishes "and ultimately as a man" as a tagged-on phrase distinct from the preceding list, so a conjunction must precede the last item in the list.

5. JFK’s handling of the Cold War, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, and America’s domination of the space race all made him look good.
Two problems occur in the incorrect sentence: The Cuban Missile Crisis was an episode of the Cold War, not a separate issue, and the reference to it has been revised as a interjection subordinate to the mention of the Cold War. (Arguably, the space race was part of the Cold War, too, but it was an extended government program, not a short-term incident.) Also, the reference to the space race has been modified to explicate the favorable outcome for the United States.

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