Parallel Structure Exercise (694)

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

    1.
    Rome and Paris, as well as Hamburg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary, are also in pursuit of the 2024 Olympic Games.
    Rome, Paris, Hamburg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary, are also in pursuit of the 2024 Olympic Games.

    2.
    The man’s dog, a brindle boxer, was friendly, playful, and would run up to people.
    The man’s dog, a brindle boxer, was friendly and playful and would run up to people.

    3.
    Officials with the Centerville Police Department and Fire Department and the California Highway Patrol cooperated in the investigation.
    Officials with the Centerville Police Department, Fire Department, and California Highway Patrol cooperated in the investigation.

    4.
    The plan was to give the chronically underachieving neighborhoods a game-changing school that would not only reverse decades of disadvantage, but attract bright middle schoolers from all over the city to its magnet program.
    The plan was to give the chronically underachieving neighborhoods a game-changing school that would not only reverse decades of disadvantage but also attract bright middle schoolers from all over the city to its magnet program.

    5.
    Mary is a fast runner, a good student, and won the school award for best athlete-scholar.
    Mary is a fast runner, a good student, and winner of the school award for best athlete-scholar.

Answers and Explanations

1. Rome and Paris, as well as Hamburg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary, are also in pursuit of the 2024 Olympic Games.
Because many publications omit the country name of well-known cities, when references in the same sentence to other cities include the country name, the sentence organization can be confusing: The list appears to refer to four locations of the same type—Rome, Paris, Hamburg, and Germany—then tacks on two more geographical names separated from the others by a conjunction and each other by a comma.

2. The man’s dog, a brindle boxer, was friendly and playful and would run up to people.
The verb "was" applies to both "large" and "playful," so those two adjectives must be linked by a conjunction, and the commas between and after them must be deleted.

3. Officials with the Centerville Police Department and Fire Department and the California Highway Patrol cooperated in the investigation.
The sentence structure does not support sharing the article "the" among the three listed names of entities. Just as in the previous examples, the first two list items should be combined into one, and the commas within the list should be deleted.

4. The plan was to give the chronically underachieving neighborhoods a game-changing school that would not only reverse decades of disadvantage but also attract bright middle schoolers from all over the city to its magnet program.
This sentence is almost right, and many writers consider it acceptable whether or not they know that not everyone agrees about how a counterpoint such as this one should be worded, but careful writers will include the final word in "not only . . . but also" to complete the thought; in addition, the comma is unnecessary.

5. Mary is a fast runner, a good student, and winner of the school award for best athlete-scholar.
The given revision is the simplest one, but better yet, combine the first two phrases into a parenthetical phrase with a conjunction in place of a comma: "Mary, a fast runner and a good student, won the school award for best athlete-scholar."

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