Parallel Structure Exercise (556)

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

    1.
    She became one of the most successful fundraisers, if not the most successful, in the party.
    She became one of the most, if not the most successful fundraisers in the party.

    2.
    He had a fine shooting touch, good passing instincts, and generally was quite agile, considering his unusual height.
    He had a fine shooting touch and good passing instincts and generally was quite agile, considering his unusual height.

    3.
    Twitter users said he represents not only South Africa but also the African continent.
    Twitter users said he not only represents South Africa but also the African continent.

    4.
    She pleaded not guilty to felony charges of attempted murder, burning an inhabited dwelling, possession of an incendiary device, criminal threats and residential burglary, as well as to misdemeanors of trespassing and making annoying phone calls.
    She pleaded not guilty to felony charges of attempted murder, burning an inhabited dwelling, possession of an incendiary device, making criminal threats and residential burglary, as well as to misdemeanors of trespassing and making annoying phone calls.

    5.
    She relies on, and has anxiety about no longer benefiting from, his support.
    She relies and has anxiety about no longer benefiting from his support.

Answers and Explanations

1. She became one of the most successful fundraisers, if not the most successful, in the party.
The incorrect sentence makes no sense. (It’s clear what the writer is trying to say, but it’s still clumsily erroneous.) Even if a second comma were inserted, after "successful," the resulting main clause, "She became one of the most fundraisers in the party," is grammatically incomplete. The revision is valid even if the parenthetical is omitted.

2. He had a fine shooting touch and good passing instincts and generally was quite agile, considering his unusual height.
Each part of the sentence requires its own verb. When "good passing instincts" is tacked onto "He had a fine shooting touch" with a conjunction, it is able to share that phrase’s verb. Alternatively, a verb such as "showed" could be inserted after the first comma.

3. Twitter users said he represents not only South Africa but also the African continent.
The verb "represents" applies to "South Africa" and "the African continent," so it must precede "not only." If "the African continent" were preceded by its own verb, then the first verb should follow "not only" and "but also" should precede the second verb to demonstrate that the actions represented by the verbs, not the entities represented by the noun phrases, are the focus of the counterpoint.

4. She pleaded not guilty to felony charges of attempted murder, burning an inhabited dwelling, possession of an incendiary device, making criminal threats and residential burglary, as well as to misdemeanors of trespassing and making annoying phone calls.
This list ends at "criminal threats and residential burglary," so a conjunction is required before that item in the list. The phrase beginning with "as well as" is tacked onto the main clause, so "as well as" does not substitute for the conjunction before a final item in a list.

5. She relies on, and has anxiety about no longer benefiting from, his support.
The verb "relies" requires its own preposition so that it is on equal footing with "has anxiety about no longer benefiting from," and because that second phrase is complex and separates "relies on" significantly from the object of the sentence, commas that bracket the longer phrase as a parenthetical will make it easier to read.

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