Latest posts by techwriter (see all)
- How Much Money Can Writers Make? - June 22, 2017
- 2 Methods to Avoid Gender Ambiguity - June 21, 2017
- How to Write in “Action Units” in Technical Writing - May 31, 2017
© 2010 Ugur Akinci
Here is a grammar rule that I like and try to follow: “In a compound sentence with multiple clauses, the clauses should be parallel in structure.”
It’s called the “Parallel Construction” rule and I try to adhere to it in my own writing because it increases comprehension.
Complicated sentences that do not have parallel clauses are usually hard to read and comprehend. Usually there is something “not quite right” with them even if you cannot always put a finger on it.
Here is a recent example from an Associated Press news story:
“PARIS, France (AP) — France’s defeated Socialists called for an end to post-election violence Tuesday after anti-Sarkozy protestors took to the streets for a second night, leaving cars burned and store windows smashed in Paris as well as unrest elsewhere.”
“Leaving cars burned and store windows smashed in Paris” is a clause that describes what was “left behind in Paris” by the protestors after they took it to the streets.
But the conjunctive clause that follows it “as well as unrest everywhere” sounds off because it violates the “parallel construction” principle.
A true re-construction of that phrase would read “as well as leaving unrest elsewhere” ! Perhaps now the problem is more clear because in English “leaving unrest” is not a grammatically acceptable phrase.
However, a condition can “lead to unrest” or a person can “cause unrest.”
Therefore, one way to correct this malformed sentence would be:
“PARIS, France (AP) — France’s defeated Socialists called for an end to post-election violence Tuesday after anti-Sarkozy protestors took to the streets for a second night, leaving cars burned and store windows smashed in Paris as well as causing unrest elsewhere.”
To me, this new sentence reads better and is easier to understand. Don’t you agree?