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Grammar Exercise 09: Parallel Structure
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Looking Ahead...
Writers are builders. Just as certain elements of a building (some walls, and all ceilings and floors) need to be parallel, so too must all the elements in a sentence (words, phrases, clauses). Parallel structure helps to keep sentence sense straight and balanced. To be parallel, the elements of a sentence must repeat the same grammatical form in a sequence.

Take a good look at this sentence:

  • Broadcast writers write for the ear: they simplify events, will organize information quickly and clearly and using ordinary language.
    Note how it mixes unparallel verb tenses? (Simplify = present; will organize = future; using = progressive). Here is a corrected version:
  • Broadcast writers write for the ear: they simplify events, organize information quickly and clearly, and use ordinary language.
    Note how the corrected version straightens out the verbs simplify, organize and use so they are all in present tense and therefore parallel.

Here is another example of incorrect and correct parallelism:

  • Incorrect: A good picture in photojournalism has impact, a message, is technically sound.
  • Correct: A good picture in photojournalism has impact, a message, and technical soundness.

Parallel sentence structure requires all grammatical elements to use the same grammatical form, whether the elements are words in a series, phrases in a series, or clauses in a series.

  • Words in a series:
    Good captions below pictures in journalism should be interesting, lively, and tasteful.
  • Phrases in a series:
    Advertising and public relations try to persuade us to think and behave in certain ways: Buy this brand of jeans, ask for that tube of toothpaste, think kindly of this candidate, appreciate the work of that organization.
  • Clauses in a series:
    In big cities, the names that make the news are those of public figures: television personalities, the wealthy, politicians, athletes, the social set. In small towns, the names are those of local people: men and women who passed the state bar examination, those arrested in the past 24 hours.
Wrap Up
Strong sentences require parallel structure. To be parallel, verbs, phrases, clauses must repeat the same grammatical form in a sequence.

School Board Requires Core Courses

Select the word that is consistent with the rules of parallel structure.

The Freeport Board of Education wants students to take more required courses and (a) passing (b) pass them before they can earn a diploma.
By a vote of 6 to 1, the board last night approved requirements beginning the freshman year and (a) extending (b) extend through the senior year.
The requirements include four years of English, two years of science and mathematics and (a) three (b) three years of a foreign language.
B)three years
Board members expressed concern about the large numbers of Freeport high school graduates who failed college entrance exams and (a) are (b) were placed in remedial courses.
Too many graduates find they cannot read well, write properly or (a) logically think (b) think logically, board members felt.
A)logically think
B)think logically
They agreed that it is easier (a) to prepare (b) preparing students in high school than to have them spend money to take remedial college courses.
A)to prepare
The lone dissenting vote was cast by Edwin Minteer, who said that the action is punitive and (a) is (b) was bound to create turmoil in the high schools.
Minteer also said the proposal would fall disproportionately on the foreign born, the late bloomers and (a) those who are (b) the poor.
A)those who are
Albert Swimmer disagreed. He said that providing students with a better education and (a) to give (b) giving them intellectual stimulation should be the aim of high school.
A)to give
The majority agreed the proposal will require smaller classes, better teacher training and (a) money (b) more money.
B)more money

Melvin Menchers News ReportingOnline Learning Center

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