Parallelism: "The new software is inexpensive and user friendly, and can be . . ."

Phaedrus

Key Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Parallelism: "The new software is inexpensive and user friendly, and can be . . ."

Greetings,

I'm experimenting with using Reed-Kellogg diagrams to exhibit multi-level grammatical parallelism for ESL learners. I'd really like to know whether what I have drawn below is accurate in that diagramming system. If TheParser or anyone else who knows and likes the Reed-Kellogg system could tell me, I'd greatly appreciate it.


new software.jpg

Sentence Diagrammed: "The new software is inexpensive and user-friendly, and can be shipped to your office overnight."

Thank you!
Phaedrus

P.S. The sentence comes from The Writer's Digest Grammar Desk Reference, by Gary Lutz and Diane Stevenson (2005). It is the correction they offer for one of their nonparallel examples: "[strike]The new software is inexpensive, user-friendly, and can be shipped to your office overnight.[/strike]"
 

Phaedrus

Key Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Re: Parallelism: "The new software is inexpensive and user friendly, and can be . . .

Below is a simplified tree diagram of the same sentence. I'm not sure which diagram would be easier for a learner to follow. I might try both of them on my students.

Parallelism Tree2.jpg
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
Re: Parallelism: "The new software is inexpensive and user friendly, and can be . . .

For me, the second is clearer.
 

Phaedrus

Key Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Re: Parallelism: "The new software is inexpensive and user friendly, and can be . . .

For me, the second is clearer.
Thanks, Tdol. I can see why you might find the tree diagram clearer.

Aesthetically, however, isn't there something pleasing about seeing grammatical parallelism exhibited with parallel lines, as in the Reed-Kellogg diagram? :)
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
Re: Parallelism: "The new software is inexpensive and user friendly, and can be . . .

I had never seen the Reed-Kellogg diagrams when I was at school or university- we don't, or didn't, use them in the UK, so they are less familiar to me, and I don't use them naturally, which makes the tree diagram easier on my eye.
 

TheParser

VIP Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2009
Member Type
Other
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Re: Parallelism: "The new software is inexpensive and user friendly, and can be . . .

Sentence Diagrammed: "The new software is inexpensive and user-friendly, and can be shipped to your office overnight."

NOT A TEACHER

Phaedrus, I may be wrong (the understatement of the century), but -- after checking about a dozen of my books-- I think the diagram depends on whether one interprets your sentence as a simple sentence or a compound sentence.

Here are some sentences that a very respected author claims are compound sentences. Notice that he indicates the subject of the second verb can be omitted:

"We fished all day, but (we) didn't catch a thing."
"Stephen realized his mistake and (he) apologized at once." (The author decided to omit the comma after "mistake."
"He walked out of the room and slammed the door behind him." (I guess "he" has been omitted after "and" for smoother reading and speaking.)

Based on these examples, I think that your sentence is a compound sentence: "The new software is inexpensive and user-friendly, and (it / the new software) can be shipped to your office overnight."

My favorite book for Reed-Kellogg says that a compound sentence should be diagrammed like this. (Being computer illiterate, I cannot post a diagram. I will have to use the poor substitute of words. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words!)

1, The first sentence of your diagram is great.

2. The line leading down to the second sentence should be as follows: a short vertical line leading downward that is connected to a short horizontal line to the right on which you write the word "and" that is connected to a short vertical line that leads down to "can be shipped" that is displayed on a long horizontal line: "(it/ the new software) can be shipped to your office overnight." In your diagram, you have already diagrammed "to your office" and "overnight."

L.G. Alexander, Longman English Grammar" (1988), pages 2, 10, and 30.
House and Harman, Descriptive English Grammar (1931), pages 421-425.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Phaedrus

Key Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Re: Parallelism: "The new software is inexpensive and user friendly, and can be . . .

Phaedrus, I may be wrong (the understatement of the century), but -- after checking about a dozen of my books-- I think the diagram depends on whether one interprets your sentence as a simple sentence or a compound sentence.

Thank you very much, TheParser. I think it is a fascinating question whether sentences such as my example and the examples you have quoted should be considered coordinated predicates or compound sentences with an omitted subject in the second independent clause, and I am honestly uncertain how to formulate a good argument for either analysis.

The only precedent I found for the coordinated-predicate analysis in the few books I have containing Reed-Kellogg diagrams was Eugene R. Moutoux's diagram of the sentence "George passed the bread and butter and took the turkey from Aunt Marie," on page 43 of his book Drawing Sentences: A Guide to Diagramming (2016). Your post has inspired me to order the L. G. Alexander book, one of the few oft-cited grammar books that are missing from my grammar library.

I wonder how the correctness of either analysis over the other can be decided, and welcome anyone viewing this thread to share his or her thoughts on the matter. When I debate Piscean/5jj here, he often appeals to Occam's Razor, and in this case I do tend to think it is simpler, all other things (whatever they are!) being equal, to think in terms of coordinated predicates sharing the same subject rather than in terms of two coordinated independent clauses with an omitted subject in the second.

The only argument that I can come up with, at present, for the coordinated-predicate analysis is far from being fully satisfying in my mind. Nevertheless, I'd like to see what you and others may think of it. It occurs to me that sentences such as these can be made subordinate elements within larger sentences, in which case they no longer function as independent clauses. The question, then, becomes whether the postulated omitted subject can be satisfactorily reinstated.

That the new software is inexpensive and user-friendly and can be shipped to our office overnight persuades me that it is worth buying.
That the new software is inexpensive and user-friendly and it can be shipped to our office overnight persuades me that it is worth buying.


Do both of those sentences work? The second one definitely doesn't sit as well with me as the first one does, though neither sentence seems spectacular to me. :)
 
Top