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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Paying Out....Give Out--Parallel Structure Problem Strikes Again

This morning's The Birmingham News has a teaser sentence on the front page about the tough choices BP is facing with its finances. This long and involved sentence needs better parallel structure so the reader can follow it. It reads this way:

As the claims over the oil spill disaster mount for the energy giant, the company is torn between two tough choices: paying out settlements to those affected by the ongoing crisis, or give out dividends to its shareholders, which include public employee retirement systems and pension beneficiaries.

The two verb phrases highlighted in red should be in the SAME format, both ending in ING. The sentence should read as follows:

As the claims over the oil spill disaster mount for the energy giant, the company is torn between two tough choices: paying out settlements to those affected by the ongoing crisis or giving out dividends to its shareholders, which include public employee retirement systems and pension beneficiaries.

BONUS NOTE: Notice that I also removed the comma before the word OR. There is no logical reason for separating these two phrases with a comma.

1 comment:

claired said...

Place a comma before "or" when what follows it means the same as what precedes it.

As in: Please pass the salt, or sodium chloride.

I think this is usefil