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THE PARTS OF SPEECH [ ? ]
MISUSED ENGLISH WORDS
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Sentence Parallelism in Plain English Writing
A long sentence often falls apart in meaning and comprehension without a parallel structure. Parallelism means you present a list or series of items using parallel parts of speech, such as nouns or verbs.
Here's an example that lacks parallel structure:
If you want to buy a Wilson tennis racquet by mail, fill out and sign the order form, making your check payable to "Tennis Store Pro," and put your phone number or driver's license on your check.
If you want to buy a Wilson tennis racquet by mail, fill out and sign the order form, make your check payable to "Tennis Store Pro," and put your phone number or driver's license number on your check.
Here is a more subtle example:
We invest the Fund's assets in short-term money market stocks to provide you with liquidity, security of your investment, and high current income.
This sentence is unparallel because its series is made up of two nouns and an adjective before the third noun. It's also awkward because the verb provide is too closely paired with the nominalization socialize.
One logical revision to the original sentence is to change the noun series to a verb series.
We invest in short-term money market stocks to provide you with liquidity, to secure your investment, and to generate high current income.
All writers, regardless of their degree of expertise, occasionally write unparallel sentences. The best way to rid your document of unparallel sentences is to re-read what you write to find these mistakes. Reading your document aloud can make unparallel constructions easier to spot.
Conditional Statements in Plain English Writing
Conditional statements are common in documents although writers rarely write them that way. When we rewrote the last example as a conditional, we followed the natural English word order closely. That's why the sentence is easier to read.
Here are four tips to help you write effective conditional statements:
TIP 1: One "if," one "then"When you find only one if and one then in your sentence, then start with the if because it may spare your readers from having to read the entire sentence. In these cases, the if clause defines who or what to which the "then" clause applies. If you bought the purple-colored playpen, then
TIP 2: One "if," multiple "thens"If you find only one if and more than one then in your sentence, then start with the if and tabulate the thens.
TIP 3: Multiple "ifs," one "then"If you find only one then and more than one if, then start with the then and tabulate the ifs.
TIP 4: Multiples "ifs" and "thens"If you findmore than one if and more than one then in your sentence, consider breaking it down into more than one sentence and specify which ifs apply to which thens.