Parallel Structure Exercise (551)

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

    1.
    He was also known for his kindness to and his appreciation for those close to him.
    He was also known for his kindness and his appreciation for those close to him.

    2.
    The knives are impact-resistant, made of stainless steel, and are supposed to last an entire lifetime.
    The knives are impact-resistant, are made of stainless steel, and are supposed to last an entire lifetime.

    3.
    She was ultimately terminated, according to the complaint, because of her race, sex, and the fact that she complained about the discrimination and harassment.
    She was ultimately terminated, according to the complaint, because of her race, her sex, and the fact that she complained about the discrimination and harassment.

    4.
    He asked whether, at a time of conflict in the Middle East, voters want a San Francisco lawyer in the Senate, or a former marine colonel.
    He asked whether, at a time of conflict in the Middle East, voters want a San Francisco lawyer or a former marine colonel in the Senate.

    5.
    The government has to be able to not only work with each individual company, but you’ve got to be able to pull those companies together so they’re working together more effectively.
    Not only does the government have to be able to work with each individual company, but you also have to be able to pull those companies together so they’re working together more effectively.

Answers and Explanations

1. He was also known for his kindness to and his appreciation for those close to him.
The incorrect version of this sentence implies that it refers to his kindness for those close to him and his appreciation for those close to him; the phrases share the preposition "for." But idiomatically, the correct preposition for "kindness" is "to," so each phrase should include its own preposition, as shown in the second version. (The sentence should still be grammatically correct if "and his appreciation for" is omitted.)

2. The knives are impact-resistant, are made of stainless steel, and are supposed to last an entire lifetime.
The correct sentence assigns a linking verb to each phrase in the sentence. In the other sentence, the lack of "are" preceding the middle phrase renders the sentence grammatically incorrect.

3. She was ultimately terminated, according to the complaint, because of her race, her sex, and the fact that she complained about the discrimination and harassment.
As in the previous example, each element in the sentence must stand on its own. In this case, rather than missing a linking verb ("are"), the second item in the first sentence lacks its own pronoun ("her").

4. He asked whether, at a time of conflict in the Middle East, voters want a San Francisco lawyer in the Senate, or a former marine colonel.
In the correct version of the sentence, the sentence seems to present the question of whether either of the candidates is desirable, but the point is which of the two is preferable, which the second version makes clear by not only introducing punctuation but also shifting the modifying phrase "in the Senate" to follow the first choice. The phrase "whether they want" could follow "or," but it is implicit.

5. Not only does the government have to be able to work with each individual company, but you also have to be able to pull those companies together so they’re working together more effectively.
"Not only . . . but also" constructions need to be consistent in syntax (the arrangement of parts of speech in a sentence). Notice how in the correct version, "not only" and "but also" each begin a clause and each precede a verb to form a clean, clear statement.

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