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False Parallelism


The Problem of Superficial Parallelism. I'll begin by saying, parallelism is as much a logical structure as a grammatical structure. This means you can't automatically put every action into some parallel verb or infinitive or participle form. You have to think about whether the actions logically belong in parallel with each other.

So, when would this come up? Compare these two sentences. Pause the video here, read these two sentences and decide which one is correct. So here, the first one is just putting everything in parallel, must take care, get adequate, tend to the wounded, leave the building, all of those, all four are in parallel, but hold on a second.

Must take care of three things, well, the following ones are the three things of which they have to take care. Those three things getting, tending, and leaving. Those are the three things. So in other words, take care of three things is not a separate action. It describes those three actions.

So, putting, putting that first one must take care of three things in parallel with the others is logically incorrect. It's not an, another fourth action in addition to those three. It describes those three. So that first one is guilty of superficial parallelism and is completely wrong. Now, again, read these two sentences, pause the video, read these sentences and decide which one is correct.

So here, option two puts three verbs in parallel, scrubbed, used, shampooed, all three in parallel. But the question is, should these really be in parallel? So, we're preparing for this, the diplomat's arrival. What are the actions that the staff does?

So the staff scrubbed down the walls of the hall. All right, you'd wanna use, you'd wanna do that. Shampooed the carpet, okay you'd wanna do that. Used soap and water, well, what does that mean? That they went into the bathroom and washed their hands or something? Used soap and water?

Does that have, what does that have to do with the diplomat arriving? That makes no sense. In number one, that appears as a participle, using soap and water. So it describes how they scrubbed down the walls of the hall. So that's not actually a separate action. That's merely a modifier, a descriptor.

It's telling us how they performed that first action. So that first one correctly has two verbs in parallel and just has using as a modifier. That should not be a separate action by itself. That would be logically incorrect. So number two, by putting everything in parallel makes this logical mistake.

Number two is guilty of superficial parallelism. Beware. The GMAT loves to catch people who do Sentence Correction on automatic pilot. Following the rules of grammar mathematically without reference to the meaning. It's one of their favorite ways to trap people.

On the GMAT Sentence Correction you always have to pay attention to the meaning of the sentence. Summary. Do not, do not, do not automatically put all the verbs in the sentence into the same form simply to create parallelism. You absolutely must think about whether those actions are all logically parallel to each other.

Parallelism is as much about logic as is, as it is about grammar.

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