Parallel Structure Exercise (593)

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

    1.
    Not everyone may agree, but everyone can live with the decision.
    Everyone may not agree, but everyone can live with the decision.

    2.
    He played alongside rock bands such as the Byrds, the Mothers of Invention, and the Allman Brothers.
    He played alongside rock bands such as the Byrds, Mothers of Invention, and Allman Brothers.

    3.
    A man and his family used much of the $187 million they collected for cancer patients to buy themselves cars, gym memberships and take luxury-cruise vacations, pay for college tuition, and employ family members with six-figure salaries.
    A man and his family used much of the $187 million they collected for cancer patients to buy themselves cars and gym memberships and take luxury-cruise vacations, pay for college tuition, and employ family members with six-figure salaries.

    4.
    Constructive feedback is the kind of feedback that all of us like to receive and that is easiest to give.
    Constructive feedback is the kind of feedback all of us like to receive and that is easiest to give.

    5.
    If it’s on paper, the museum has tried to purchase, or has succeeded in purchasing, it.
    If it’s on paper, the museum has tried or succeeded in purchasing it.

Answers and Explanations

1. Not everyone may agree, but everyone can live with the decision.
The colloquial construction "everyone may not agree" literally means that no one agrees, but the intent is to state that agreement is not unanimous, not that no one agrees, so the word order should be changed to convey the precise meaning.

2. He played alongside rock bands such as the Byrds, the Mothers of Invention, and the Allman Brothers.
Each of these band names, in isolation, should be preceded by the article "the" (though "the," because it is not technically part of the name, is not capitalized), so the article should precede each name when it occurs in a list; the names cannot share the first "the."

3. A man and his family used much of the $187 million they collected for cancer patients to buy themselves cars and gym memberships and take luxury-cruise vacations, pay for college tuition, and employ family members with six-figure salaries.
"Gym memberships" is the only element in this list that does not have its own verb. As the sentence is constructed, it cannot share "buy" with "cars"; when the comma after cars is replaced with "and," "buy" can be shared. In turn, the "and" following "gym" memberships could be replaced by a comma, but the revision is correct as is.

4. Constructive feedback is the kind of feedback that all of us like to receive and that is easiest to give.
The pronoun "that," as in the statement "Constructive feedback is the kind of feedback that all of us like to receive," is optional, but if "that" is used in ". . . that is easiest to give" ("that is" could be deleted, but the phrase reads awkwardly without it), for consistency it must be used with both phrases.

5. If it’s on paper, the museum has tried to purchase, or has succeeded in purchasing, it.
This sentence is flawed because, with "or succeeded" omitted, the resulting statement ". . . has tried in purchasing it" should read ". . . has tried to purchase it." Even better than the simple change above is the revision "If it’s on paper, the museum has tried to purchase it, or has succeeded in purchasing it."

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