Parallel Structure Exercise (599)

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

    1.
    King was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and received the Songwriters Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.
    King was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and received the Songwriters Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.

    2.
    I consider this not a tragedy but a sad event.
    I don’t consider this a tragedy but a sad event.

    3.
    Milestones help your team stay on track and on time, give team members an early warning when things aren’t going as planned, and, when they do go well, give the team something to celebrate.
    Milestones help your team stay on track and on time, give team members an early warning when things aren’t going as planned, and, when they do go well, they give the team something to celebrate.

    4.
    It was unclear whether Jones favored having Smith step down before regularly scheduled leadership elections or whether she should simply not stand for reelection when her term effectively ends late next year.
    It was unclear whether Jones favored having Smith step down before regularly scheduled leadership elections or whether he believes she should simply not stand for reelection when her term effectively ends late next year.

    5.
    The comments were noxious and offensive and have no place in civil discourse.
    The comments were noxious, offensive, and have no place in civil discourse.

Answers and Explanations

1. King was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and received the Songwriters Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.
The second of three phrases describing King’s achievements is grammatically incomplete; "the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987," unlike the other two phrases, lacks of verb. The writer intended it to share "inducted" with the first phrase, but in order to do so, the two phrases must be linked with "and" rather than separated with a comma.

2. I consider this not a tragedy but a sad event.
For the counterpoints of this sentence to be parallel, if the first clause is independent, the second one should be, too (as in "I don’t consider this a tragedy; it’s merely a sad event"). For clarity and simplicity, though, structure the sentence as a "not this but that" statement.

3. Milestones help your team stay on track and on time, give team members an early warning when things aren’t going as planned, and, when they do go well, give the team something to celebrate.
The pronoun at the head of the final phrase is extraneous, because "milestones" serves all three elements in the sentence.

4. It was unclear whether Jones favored having Smith step down before regularly scheduled leadership elections or whether he believes she should simply not stand for reelection when her term effectively ends late next year.
The desire for each possible outcome should be clearly attributed to Jones. In the original version, the wording of the clause beginning "she should simply . . ." is implied to be a generally held opinion, which may be true, but the context indicates that the statement refers to the possibility that Jones holds it.

5. The comments were noxious and offensive and have no place in civil discourse.
Like the first sentence in this set, the first verb is incorrectly assumed to be able to serve both the first and second elements. It can, as long as a conjunction rather than a comma appears between the elements.

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