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  1. #1
    Atesttaker Guest

    Parallel Structure

    I am preparing for the toefl exam and planning to give it in near future. I am not attending any classes nor I have any particular book so all I have to do is to search on internet and ask the problems I face on this benificial forum.I am very thankful to all who answer my questions. Following are some problems which i cant solve while understanding parallel structures.

    1-Incorrect :The coach told the players that they should get a lot of sleep, not eat too much, and do some warm-up exercises before the game.
    Correct:
    2-False: This car is not only fast but also it is safe to drive.
    Correct: This car is not only fast but also safe. ( why "to drive" is omitted here)

    3-False: The factory workers were ready, able, and were quite determined to do a great job.
    Correct:The factory workers were ready, able, and determined to do a great job.( why quite is omitted I understand of omitting were)

    4-False:They are either our friends or they are not.
    CorrectThey are either our friends or our enemies. ( Can it be like They are either our friends or not)


    5-Vasu not only broke Indian traditions, but also was destroying Nataraj's life.

    Can it be corrected as
    Vasu not only broke Indian traditions, but also destroyed Nataraj's life.

    6-Incorrect:In The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, we empathise with Billy the Kid, more than Pat

    Garrett.
    Correct:
    7-Incorrect : Three goals of the Sierra Club are to encourage environmental conservation, lobbying for environmental issues in Washington, D.C., and develop youth awareness of environmental concerns.
    Correct:

    8-Incorrect: Electronic bulletin boards are important in the process of reviewing product performance which evaluates how a product operates and recommend whether one should buy it.
    Correct:

    9-Incorrect:Her conditions for signing the contract are, first, the commissioner has to approve the terms; second, that the other players must sign as well.

    10-Incorrect:Carlos wasted his first year at college by not studying enough and spending too much time at parties.
    Please also explain the correct answers .

  2. #2
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Re: Parallel Structure

    Quote Originally Posted by Atesttaker
    I am preparing for the toefl exam and planning to give it in near future. I am not attending any classes

    nor I have any particular book so all I have to do is to search on internet and ask the problems I face on

    this benificial forum.I am very thankful to all who answer my questions. Following are some problems

    which i cant solve while understanding parallel structures.

    1-Incorrect :The coach told the players that they should get a lot of sleep, not eat too much, and do

    some warm-up exercises before the game.
    Correct:
    Parallel structure involves different parts of a sentence that share the same function. In general, those parts should be in the same basic form. It is preferable that they be of similar lengths, although that is not absolute.

    I don't really have a problem with the first example. There are three elements that share the word "should" as an auxiliary verb. Therefore, each element must be able to follow "should" naturally, even if it were the only element listed.

    We have:

    that they should get plenty of sleep (OK)
    that they should not eat too much (OK)
    that they should do some warm-up exercises (OK)

    It appears (logically) that all three elements are intended to share "before the game".

    The only possible objection that I can see is the negative form of the second element. IMO, that does not seriously disturb the parallelism but others may disagree. If that is a problem, one can change #2 to a positive:

    "eat only a small meal"

    I will answer some others in subsequent posts so that each post is a bit more manageable. :wink:

  3. #3
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    Re: Parallel Structure

    Quote Originally Posted by Atesttaker
    2-False: This car is not only fast but also it is safe to drive.
    Correct: This car is not only fast but also safe. ( why "to drive" is omitted here)
    The construction "not only...but also" is a compound conjunction, i.e. it has two parts. Because it conjoins two pieces, those pieces should be of similar form.

    In the first sentence, an adjective "fast" follows "not only". We would then expect an adjective to follow "but also". But that sentence uses an entire clause after "but also".

    The second sentence corrects that error by using an adjective after "but also". I cannot give you a good reason for "to drive" being dropped in the second sentence. The second sentence is more parallel without it (due to the lengths of the elements), but an insistance that elements must be identical to preserve parallism is stretching the concept too far, IMO.

    3-False: The factory workers were ready, able, and were quite determined to do a great job.
    Correct:The factory workers were ready, able, and determined to do a great job.( why quite is omitted I

    understand of omitting were)
    This is very similar to #2. In this case, the elements share "were" and should all be adjectives. Repeating the "were" before the third item is unnecessary, and it disturbs the flow of the sentence. The removal of "quite", however, stretches the point of parallelism, IMO. I would have no objection to the use of "quite" in that corrected sentence.

  4. #4
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    Re: Parallel Structure

    Quote Originally Posted by Atesttaker

    4-False:They are either our friends or they are not.
    CorrectThey are either our friends or our enemies. ( Can it be like They are either our friends or not)
    Again we have a compound conjunction "either...or". One should look for similar elements after each part. Note that the second "our friends" is ellipted after the ending "not".

    Either they are our friends or they are not (our friends).
    They either are our friends or are not (our friends).
    They are either our friends or not (our friends).

    The ellipsis aside, all three of these are parallel. Among the three, I prefer the first.

    The proposed correction preserves parallelism, but it changes the meaning of the sentence. There is a big difference between a group not being a friend and it being an enemy.

  5. #5
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    Re: Parallel Structure

    Quote Originally Posted by Atesttaker

    5-Vasu not only broke Indian traditions, but also was destroying Nataraj's life.

    Can it be corrected as
    Vasu not only broke Indian traditions, but also destroyed Nataraj's life.
    Yes. Absolutely! You changed the second verb form from past progressive/continuous to the simple past, which matched the first verb. Notice again, however, that the meaning of the sentence was changed. In your correction, which preserved parallelism, Nataraj's life had already been destroyed. In the original sentence, the destruction was in process, but was not finished. One must be careful to avoid preoccupation with parallism if it adversely affects the intended meaning. It would be better to restate the sentence than convey the wrong meaning.

  6. #6
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    Re: Parallel Structure

    Quote Originally Posted by Atesttaker

    6-Incorrect:In The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, we empathise with Billy the Kid, more than Pat

    Garrett.
    Correct:
    I don't have a real problem with this one. IMO the original has two elements that share "with": "Billy the Kid" and "Pat". The two are joined by a comparative conjunction "more than". One could also say "we empathize more with Billy the Kid than Pat" or "we empathize more with Billiy the Kid than with Pat". The first alternative moves "more" to modify "empathize" and then leaves "than" as the conjunction. The second alternative nor only moves more, but it adds an additional "with". I suspect that your book wants that one because of the parallel "with" constructions. However, all that does is move the shared word back from "with" to "empathize". That is just a different parallel, IMO.

  7. #7
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Re: Parallel Structure

    Quote Originally Posted by Atesttaker
    7-Incorrect : Three goals of the Sierra Club are to encourage environmental conservation, lobbying for environmental issues in Washington, D.C., and develop youth awareness of environmental concerns.
    Correct:
    This sentence has three elements that share "are" or "are to":

    1. to encourage environmental conservation
    2. lobbying for environmental issues in Washington, D.C.
    3. develop youth awareness of environmental concerns.

    The first and third are infinitive phrases; the second is a gerund phrase. Parallelism would be improved by having all three elements as one or the other. What one does with "to" is optional. If one wishes to use all infinitive phrases, on could have them share one "to" in the beginning or one could repeat "to" before each phrase. I think most would prefer the single "to" to avoid repition, but this is a matter of style more than grammar or parallelism. I will give you several solutions here:

    A. Three goals of the Sierra Club are to: encourage environmental conservation, lobby for environmental issues in Washington, D.C., and develop youth awareness of environmental concerns.

    B. Three goals of the Sierra Club are: to encourage environmental conservation, to lobby for environmental issues in Washington, D.C., and to develop youth awareness of environmental concerns.

    C. Three goals of the Sierra Club are: encouraging environmental conservation, lobbying for environmental issues in Washington, D.C., and developing youth awareness of environmental concerns.

    I have no strong preference for any of the three.

  8. #8
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Re: Parallel Structure

    Quote Originally Posted by Atesttaker

    8-Incorrect: Electronic bulletin boards are important in the process of reviewing product performance which evaluates how a product operates and recommend whether one should buy it.
    Correct:
    This adds an element of complexity. The two elements that share the word "of" are "reviewing product performance which evaluates how a product operates" and "recommend whether one should buy it".

    There are two problems. First, the first item is a phrase beginning with a gerund and the second is a phrase beginning with either a present tense verb or a bare infinitive (without the particle "to"). This is not parallel. Second, the first element is modified by a relative clause which is nonrestrictive (not essential), IMO. This also distrurbs the parallelism.

    The corrective step for the first problem is to change "recommend" into a gerund -- "recommending".

    There are a variety of corrective possibilities for the second, including eliminating it altogether. If the writer believes that it must be there, however, it could be enclosed in parentheses or set off by dashes. Either of these indicates that the remark is parenthetical. This also technically removes the clause form parallelism considerations. When one does either, however, the terminal pronoun "it" becomes a bit ambiguous. I would also change that. THus:

    A. Electronic bulletin boards are important in the process of reviewing product performance and recommending whether one should buy that product.

    B. Electronic bulletin boards are important in the process of reviewing product performance (which evaluates how a product operates) and recommending whether one should buy that product.

    C. Electronic bulletin boards are important in the process of reviewing product performance -- which evaluates how a product operates -- and recommending whether one should buy that product.

    Of these three, I prefer A. For me, the parenthetical information does not seem to be essential.

  9. #9
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    Re: Parallel Structure

    Quote Originally Posted by Atesttaker
    9-Incorrect:Her conditions for signing the contract are, first, the commissioner has to approve the terms; second, that the other players must sign as well.
    The error here is using "that" in the second statement and not in the first. This affects the punctuation, as well.

    I would suggest:

    Her conditions for signing the contract are: first, that the commissioner has to approve the terms and second, that the other players must sign, as well.


    10-Incorrect:Carlos wasted his first year at college by not studying enough and spending too much time at parties.
    Please also explain the correct answers .
    This one is confusing because one can't tell if "not" applies to both elements or to just the first. One can fix this by reversing the elem,ents or by adding a "by".

    A. Carlos wasted his first year at college by not studying enough and by spending too much time at parties.

    B. Carlos wasted his first year at college by spending too much time at parties and not studying enough.

  10. #10
    Atesttaker Guest
    Thanks Mike that was indeed a great help.

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