Monday, May 01, 2006

Parallelism

GMAT Verbal Section -- Sentence correction

Parallelism or Parallel structure

Parallelism
is the coordination of words, clauses and phrases in a sentence. Parallelism heightens the relation between connected elements by lining up noun with noun, phrase with phrase, and verb with verb.In Parallelism all linked words should match in form. e.g

1). Write injuries in dust, benefits in marble.

2). A living dog is better than a dead lion.

3). Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.

In the 3rd example, the construction of the second sentence is fully parallel with the construction of the second.The similarity in form helps to dramatize the difference between uplifts and degrades, and between just and unjust.

a). Situations in which we should make use of parallel constructions:

1). LIST

She was a personality before she became a person – she was simple, complex, generous, selfish, unattractive, beautiful, lazy, and driven.

There are 8 adjectives used in the above sentence since all are adjectives parallelism is maintained.

2). SERIES

A fool’s brain digests philosphy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry.

There are 3 matching phrases consisting of a noun plus a prepositional phrase.

3). CONTRAST

They marched slowly but steadily.

Slowly and steadily show parallelism as both are adverbs.

4). SERIES PLUS CONTRAST

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.

Use of 4 nouns show parallelism.

5). CHOICE

We can repair the roof now, or we can replace the entire house in a year.

There are 2 independent clauses with the same subject and similar predicates.

6). STATEMENT OF EQUIVALENCE

A life without festivities is a long road without inns.

Here there are 2 nouns plus a matching prepositional phrases.

7). CLASSIFICATION/DEFINITION

Economy is the art of making the most of life.

There is a noun and a noun phrase.

8). STATEMENT OF EVALUATION

For most men the love of justice is only the fear of suffering injustice.

There are 2 noun phrases ,thus it shows parallelism.

9). COMPARISON

Walking in dust can be more rewarding than sitting on silk.

Here there are matching verbal nouns and prepositional phrases.

b). Using Correlatives with Parallelism

Correlatives are words or phrases used in pairs to join words, phrases, or clauses. Correlatives include:

Both…..and
Not only…..but also
Either…..or
Neither …..nor
Whether …..or

Examples:

1). Most tourists are willing to travel either by bus or by train.

2). They found mice not only in the cupboard but also under the sink.

3). Michelangelo was both a great sculptor and a great painter.

NOTE: Besides placing correlatives properly, be careful to use a parallel structure after each one:

Editing faulty parallelism

1). Incorrect – Janice’s way of reading menus is better than most people.
Correct – Janice’s way of reading menus is better than most people’s.
Or
Correct – Janice’s way of reading menus is better than that of most people.
Or
Correct – Janice’s way of reading menus is better than the way of most people.

2). Incorrect – The farmers will either find ways to cut their costs, or the banks will lower the interest
rate on loans.
Correct – Either the farmers will find ways to cut their costs, or the banks will lower the interest
rate on loans.

c). Other rules for forming parallel structure

1). When two adjectives modify the same noun, they should have similar forms.
e.g

Incorrect - Brenda treated the patient swiftly and calm.
Correct - Brenda treated the patient swiftly and calmly.

2). When a series of clauses is listed, the verbs in each clause must have the same form.e.g

Incorrect - On sunny days many like to skate on the village pond or sledding on Mount
Knox.
Correct - On sunny days many like skating on the village pond or sledding on Mount
Knox.
OR
Correct - On sunny days many like to skate on the village pond or to sled on Mount
Knox.

3). Both halves of a sentence should have the same structure.e.g

Incorrect - To acknowledge Divine wisdom is taking the first step to nirvana.
Correct - Acknowledging Divine wisdom is taking the first step to nirvana.
Correct - To acknowledge Divine wisdom is to take the first step to nirvana.