Parallel Structure Exercise (568)
Revise each sentence to correctly organize the syntactical elements.
Answers and Explanations
Original: I’ve written some reviews that are equally if not more savage than this.
Correct : I’ve written some reviews that are equally savage, if not more so.
The original sentence can be comprehended, but its grammatical structure is flawed: "Than" is expected to support "equally" as well as "if not more," but "equally than" is incorrect. The solution is to introduce the comparison with the phrase "equally savage," but instead of repeating the adjective in "if not more savage than this," preceded by a comma, "so" can take the place of the last three words.
Original: Customers have said the food is too expensive, alleged that Smith is hostile and has poor business practices.
Correct : Customers have said the food is too expensive and have alleged that Smith is hostile and has poor business practices.
In this sentence, the middle list item is bereft of a helping verb (represented in the first item by "have" and the third item by "has"). But simply inserting "have" before "alleged" is insufficient; the first item refers to the food that Smith serves and the others refer to the person specifically, so they should be combined into one item.
Original: The book is quickly paced, completely entertaining, and its philosophical pretensions don’t get in the way.
Correct : The book is quickly paced and completely entertaining, and its philosophical pretensions don’t get in the way.
This sentence, like the one before it, lacks a verb in each element. The phrase "completely entertaining," like the one before it, requires a verb in a form of "to be" (in this case, "is"), but it can share the one in the first item by being connected to the initial phrase by a conjunction rather than separated by a comma, as shown in the revision.
Original: People not only didn’t have to apologize for their obsession, but could enjoy being with others who shared it.
Correct : People not only didn’t have to apologize for weird obsession but also could enjoy being with others who shared it.
This sentence, unlike many others written with the "not only . . . but" construction, correctly positions "not only" before a verb (to correspond with "but" preceding another verb), but the comma preceding "but" is unnecessary, and "also" is required as part of the second element of "not only . . . but."
Original: Computer models show heat-trapping gases should slightly increase winter rain in parts of California, not decrease.
Correct : Computer models show heat-trapping gases should slightly increase, not decrease, winter rain in parts of California.
The tag phrase "not decrease" works only if it immediately follows its antonym. Otherwise, "not decrease" appears to refer to the heat-trapping gases rather than the winter rain.