Parallel Structure with Prepositions

By Mark Nichol

Writers often mistakenly withhold repetition of prepositions with corresponding sentence elements in the erroneous belief that those elements can share a single preposition. In each of the following sentences, a repeated preposition is missing, and a discussion after each example explains the problem and a revision resolves it.

1. These developments are significant as the cost and influence of regulation on business models remain high in many industries.

This sentence’s construction implies that cost can share the preposition of with influence, but it requires its own, because cost is parallel not to influence but to “influence of regulation on”: “These developments are significant as the cost of, and influence of regulation on, business models remain high in many industries.”

2. Such dysfunction can arise from incentives that do not encourage resiliency and management being out of touch with the customer.

Similar to the problem in the previous sentence, from should be repeated before management so that the reader is not led to believe that management corresponds to resiliency rather than to incentives: “Such dysfunction can arise from incentives that do not encourage resiliency and from management being out of touch with the customer.”

3. They are designing preventive and detective control activities that are effective in the new environment, both from a risk-management and operational-scalability perspective.

For the phrasal adjectives “risk management” and “operational scalability” to be fully parallel, legitimately sharing the noun perspective, the second phrase must, like the first phrase, be preceded by an article: “They are designing preventive and detective control activities that are effective in the new environment, both from a risk-management and an operational-scalability perspective.” (Better yet, do so and transpose both and from and repeat perspective after each phrasal adjective: “They are designing preventive and detective control activities that are effective in the new environment, from both a risk-management perspective and an operational-scalability perspective.”)

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3 Responses to “Parallel Structure with Prepositions”

  • Louise Rollins

    I agree with Melissa regarding #2 – the possessive form of management is necessary before the gerund (being).

  • David B,

    I am inclined to disagree with you on the first example. I believe the original author meant that both the cost of regulations and the influence of regulations are high. This “cost” and “influence” indeed parallel.

  • Melissa

    On #2, I agree with the change but would also add a possessive before the gerund: “and from management’s being out of touch . . . .”

    On #3, the first, less satisfying, amendment is still not quite parallel. It should include “from” in the second phrase, too–“both from a risk-management and from an operational-scalability perspective.” The “better yet” version is definitely the best, however!

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