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Module 6 - Sentence Structure and Style

Lesson Selection

6.1 Coordination
6.2 Subordination
6.3 Parallelism
6.4 Sentence Variety

Quiz on Coordination
Quiz on Subordination
Quiz on Parallelism
Quiz on Sentence Variety
Module 6 Test (available in lab version)

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6.1 Coordination


Expressions are said to be coordinated when they are listed or joined by coordinate conjunctions. The standard coordinate conjunctions are and, or, but, yet. Clauses, phrases, and even individual words can all be coordinated. However, items which are coordinated must be of the same grammatical type. If they are not, the result is faulty parallelism.



1. Jack and Jill did not really go up to the hill.

2. Her parents went first and then his parents followed.

3. They talked to each other yet admired the scenery.

4. Did they bring apples, bananas, peaches or pears with them?

5. They brought some snacks but were hungry when they returned.

End of Lesson on Coordination

6.2 Subordination

Subordinate Clauses are often used to express a relation between two statements. Frequently, the relation is expressed through the subordinator.



1. He bought a slice of pizza because he was hungry.

2. The man who bought the pizza has gained weight.

3. When I am hungry, I like snack food.

4. The doctor told me that I do not eat healthy foods.

5. Eating healthy foods is good in that it may help you

live longer.

Despite the name "subordinate," subordinate clauses are not necessarily less important than the main clauses to which they are attached.



1. The man who killed his mother eats snack food.

2. Many people are not sure how to eat because scientific

studies of nutrition are inconclusive.

3. If science discovers the nutritional factors which

contribute to long life, Jack and Jill will be happy.

4. Scientists who have devoted their lives to research

are not always satisfied with their lives.

5. She, too, was a student before she became rich.


End of Lesson on Subordination

6.3 Parallelism

Parallelism occurs when there are parallel structures which have either the same or a similar form. These parallel structures can occur within a single sentence or in two or more sentences. Parallelism is an effective way of emphasizing ideas.



1. We came; we saw; we conquered.

2. The government of the people, for the people, by the people shall not perish from the earth.

3. Spare the rod and spoil the child.

4. Life is short and art is long.

5. It is better to have loved and lost.

Although parallelism can be an effective device, it can also lead to the grammatical error called faulty parallelism. There are four basic kinds:

Faulty Parallelism In Lists

Faulty Parallelism with Auxiliaries

Faulty Parallelism with Correlative Conjunctions

False Comparisons


On the following sections, each kind of faulty parallelism is examined

in turn.

Faulty Parallelism in Lists

The items in lists and other coordinate structures should all be of the same grammatical type.



1. INCORRECT: The institution will require little loyalty,

hard work, but will demand overtime.

CORRECT: The institution will require little loyalty or

hard work, but will demand overtime.

2. INCORRECT: Killing skunks, rats, yet sparing other

creatures is difficult.

CORRECT: Killing skunks and rats, yet sparing other

creatures is difficult.

Faulty Parallelism with Auxiliaries

If there is more than one auxiliary, either the main verb form must go with both auxiliaries or a second form must be added.



1. INCORRECT: He never has, and never will, work for less than a fair wage.

CORRECT: He never has worked, and never will work for less than a fair wage.

2. INCORRECT: Despite the cuts there are services the hospital has, and will continue to provide to doctors.

CORRECT: Despite the cuts there are services the hospital has provided, and will continue to provide to doctors.

Faulty Parallelism with Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are coordinate conjunctions with two (not only-but also, either-or, both-and). The grammatical type that comes after the first part (for example, not only) must also come after the second (but also).


1. INCORRECT: They not only corrected my grammar but also they suggested several new ideas.

CORRECT: They not only corrected my grammar but also suggested several new ideas.

2. INCORRECT: Either Mary will help the older patients or Jake.

CORRECT: Either Jake or Mary will help the older patients.

False Comparisons

False comparisons occur when one of the items being compared is not the item the writer had in mind.



1. INCORRECT: Jane's salary is less than the Dean.

CORRECT: Jane's salary is less than that of the Dean.

(The writer intended to compare salaries.)

2. INCORRECT: The old lady's forehand is stronger than Jack.

CORRECT: The old lady's forehand is stronger than Jack's.

(The writer intended to compare forehands.)

End of Lesson

6.4 Sentence Variety

In order to keep their work from becoming monotonous, writers often try to vary their sentence structure. There are two standard classifications you can use in order to see if all the sentences in a text are all of the same type. One of these classifications is rhetorical; the other is grammatical.

The rhetorical approach classifies sentences according to the way in which they present their ideas; the grammatical approach, according to the number and kind of clauses they contain. Neither provides an absolute measure of variety. Still, they can give you some idea of where revision may be necessary.

Rhetorical Classification of Sentences

1. Loose Sentences

In loose sentences, the main subject and verb are at the beginning, and modifying participial phrases and subordinate clauses follow.

2. Periodic Sentences

In periodic sentences, the main subject and verb come after an introductory subordinate clause or participial phrase.

3. Balanced Sentences

Sentences which are balanced are characterized by parallel structure: two or more parts of the sentence have the same form.

4. Parenthetical Sentences

Sentences of this type have a non-restrictive participial phrase or subordinate clause inside the main clause.


1. The company will build the bridge because it needs the money. (loose)

2. Although Mary tries very hard to be polite to her boss, she has trouble hiding her true feelings. (periodic)

3. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. (balanced)

4. We tried, as hard as we could possibly could, to make the project a success. (parenthetical)

5. Your people shall be my people. (balanced)

6. We will decide what to do next after we have received the results. (loose)

7. While waiting for the game to begin, the girls started telling jokes. (periodic)

8. The rider, casting his eyes upon the ground, handed the passenger a small piece of paper. (parenthetical)


Grammatical Classification of Sentences

1. Simple Sentences

Simple sentences are those with only one main clause and no subordinate clauses.

2. Compound Sentences

These sentences have two or more main clauses.

3. Complex Sentences

Sentences of this type have one main clause and one or more subordinate clauses.

4. Compound-Complex Sentences

Compound-complex sentences have two or more main clauses and at least one subordinate clause.

1. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. (simple)

2. Some cliches are interesting and some are not. (compound)

3. The woman who heard this cliche did not think it was appropriate. (complex)

4. After the first snow, Mark will pack and Doris will find a city where they can live. (compound-complex)

5. No matter where we happen to move, we will have each other. (complex)

6. Any fool can be complicated, but it takes a genius to be simple. (compound)

7. Turn left where the river ends, and follow the small path to the old house. (compound-complex).

8. In the spring, they will return. (simple)



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