Parallel Structure Exercise (766)

Revise each sentence to correctly organize the syntactical elements.

    1.
    Nidal Hasan, who perpetrated the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, in which thirteen people were killed, was not only an American but also an army major.
    Nidal Hasan, who perpetrated the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, in which thirteen people were killed, was not only an American but an army major.

    2.
    Not only was dark matter responsible for irrevocably changing our world, but some of it also played a crucial role in allowing our existence.
    Not only was dark matter responsible for irrevocably changing our world, but also that some of it played a crucial role in allowing our existence.

    3.
    Not only does the person who posted the article not know the difference; that person also doesn’t really care.
    Not only does the person who posted the article not know the difference but doesn’t really care.

    4.
    Recent tests not only show no improvement in water quality but also indicate that the water is even more widely contaminated than before.
    Recent tests show not only no improvement in water quality—but that the water is even more widely contaminated than before.

    5.
    When preparing a speech, not only should you consider your topic but also your audience.
    When preparing a speech, you should consider not only your topic but also your audience.

Answers and Explanations

1. Nidal Hasan, who perpetrated the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, in which thirteen people were killed, was not only an American but also an army major.
For a fully parallel syntactical structure, "also" should follow "but" in such constructions to emphasize that the second part of the sentence is an addition, not a counterpoint, to the first part.

2. Not only was dark matter responsible for irrevocably changing our world, but some of it also played a crucial role in allowing our existence.
For this sentence to be grammatically valid, what follows "but" in this "not only . . . but . . . also" construction must be an independent clause.

3. Not only does the person who posted the article not know the difference; that person also doesn’t really care.
For the use of "not only" to be valid in this sentence, the final phrase must be an independent clause (and "also" should also be inserted). Alternatively, "the sentence could be restructured to fit the "not only . . . but also" template: "The person who posted the article not only doesn’t know the difference but also doesn’t care."

4. Recent tests not only show no improvement in water quality but also indicate that the water is even more widely contaminated than before.
"Not only" should precede "show" so that it refers to both that verb and the parallel verb "indicate," which is immediately preceded by "but also," a counterpoint to "not only." Also, the dash is extraneous.

5. When preparing a speech, you should consider not only your topic but also your audience.
The verb "consider" applies to the phrase beginning with "not only" and the phrase beginning with "but also," so it should precede both phrases.

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