Parallel Structure Exercise (544)

For each pair of sentences, choose the one that correctly organizes the syntactical elements.

    1.
    These technologies provide tutors who can give information, strategies, advice, and grade work.
    These technologies provide tutors who can give information, strategies, and advice and can grade work.

    2.
    The book shows a more personable side of Jones that not only portrays his quick and somewhat unreasonable temper, but his kindness to those close to him.
    The book shows a more personable side of Jones that portrays not only his quick and somewhat unreasonable temper but also his kindness to those close to him.

    3.
    Kleiner Perkins has continually asserted that Pao’s personality made her a bad fit for a career in investing—and a poor "culture fit" for the firm.
    Kleiner Perkins has continually asserted that Pao’s personality made her a bad fit for a career in investing—nor the right "culture fit" for the firm.

    4.
    The applicant must feel competent in the area of physics, probability theory, and enjoy research and writing in broad and deep theoretical and physical sciences.
    The applicant must feel competent in the area of physics and probability theory and must enjoy research and writing in broad and deep theoretical and physical sciences.

    5.
    You see these people every day on your drive to work, in the grocery store, in the movie theater, and probably live right next to you.
    You see these people every day on your drive to work, in the grocery store, and in the movie theater, and they probably live right next to you.

Answers and Explanations

1. These technologies provide tutors who can give information, strategies, and advice and can grade work.
Giving information, strategies, and advice on the one hand and grading work on the other are separate activities, so "grade work" should be distinguished as a distinct part of the sentence by preceding it with "can" so that it is parallel to the other part. In addition, a conjunction must follow "advice," the final item in the list in the first part.

2. The book shows a more personable side of Jones that portrays not only his quick and somewhat unreasonable temper but also his kindness to those close to him.
Because—temper and kindness—describe personality traits that are conflicting but similar things, they should both be mentioned after "not only." And because the reference to the positive quality follows the mention of the negative quality as an addition, "also" should be inserted as a counterpoint to "not only," and the comma before "but" is extraneous.

3. Kleiner Perkins has continually asserted that Pao’s personality made her a bad fit for a career in investing—and a poor "culture fit" for the firm.
"Nor" is erroneous here because it is useful only as the matching bookend for a negative assertion, usually involving "neither"; this sentence calls for a simple "and."

4. The applicant must feel competent in the area of physics and probability theory and must enjoy research and writing in broad and deep theoretical and physical sciences.
Two traits are required for the job position: the stated competence and the enjoyment of a specific type of research and writing. To strengthen the organization of this sentence, clarifying that "feel" and "enjoy" are parallel verbs, each should be preceded by "must."

5. You see these people every day on your drive to work, in the grocery store, and in the movie theater, and they probably live right next to you.
This sentence is stating two propositions: The reader sees "these people" in various situations, and they are likely the reader’s neighbors. Those two propositions must be distinct, with the possible encounter locations in a list of prepositional phrases that ends one independent clause and the possible presence of "these people" next door mentioned in another independent clause. For the second clause to be independent, a noun or pronoun is required after the conjunction connecting the clauses.

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