faulty parallelism

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need help correcting this

See example:

Prevention is possible only through genetic testing and then planning on whether to have children or not in cases that turn out to be positive.
asked Jun 07 '13 at 19:45 Brooke Mechling New member

Prevention is possible only through genetic testing, and careful family planning with test results in mind.

beth g sandersJun 08 '13 at 02:34

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4 answers


2

The sentence doesn't make sense. Genetic testing doesn't prevent passing on a genetic disorder. Choosing "whether or not" to have children doesn't prevent it because that includes people who choose to have children regardless of the results. I would be more specific than "having children" as well since there are other ways to have children without contributing biologically.


Prevention is possible only by choosing to not conceive when genetic testing results are positive.

link edited Jun 08 '13 at 00:30 Patty T Grammarly Fellow

I primarily agree with your rewrite, but you have split the infinitive. Also, the primary topic is genetic testing; therefore, it would help the reader to lead with that. I suggest, "when genetic testing is positive for an undesirable trait, the only way to prevent passing the gene on is to choose not to conceive."

Deb WeaverJun 08 '13 at 03:41

I thought prevention was the focus of the sentence since Brooke lists two things that are involved in the process of prevention. (Also, I'm not of the school that believes a split infinitive is an actual rule.)

Patty TJun 08 '13 at 04:57

Splitting the infinitive is allowable. We cannot apply Latin grammar rules to a Germanic language.

Katherine PatrickJun 08 '13 at 18:43

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1

I don't have a problem with the original sentence. I think we can sometimes get hung up on technicalities. Let's face it, there are any number of ways to present your thoughts within grammatical guidelines. Guida's answer is fine, another option is to make two sentences: "Prevention is possible only through genetic testing. If the results are positive, the parents can then make an informed decision for family planning." Different words, same meaning broken down, so it becomes less of a grammatical conundrum. Patty is a "fellow" and I only a "new member," so I hesitate to point this out, but the discussion is grammar, not science nor what is politically correct. The original sentence isn't perfect, but I understood the meaning and I think most people would; so it doesn't "doesn't make sense." (Now there's a sentence that needs work!)

link edited Jun 08 '13 at 02:52 Brother Dave Contributor

Your answer is better than mine because it clarifies meaning, making it easier for the ready to understand what is being communicated, which is the whole point, isn't it?

Deb WeaverJun 08 '13 at 03:43

I'm only a "fellow" because I've been around a long time. I didn't pick the title. I'm not actually a fan of the titles. There are certainly participants who are more expert than me. I am not always right, and I don't mind when someone disagrees with me or corrects me. I still learn, too. We often talk about more than just grammar here. We also discuss style, word choice, and meaning of sentences. A lot of students ask questions when writing papers. I tend to offer suggestions that might help them write more clearly. Though I can understand what Brooke is trying to say in the sentence, teachers don't tend to grade well for what most people will understand. I did make an assumption that this is for formal writing. Facts and clarity are fairly important in academic writing.

Patty TJun 08 '13 at 04:50

On another board that provides answers to questions, I was the number one contributor by hundreds of points and at least a couple of years. I knew the subject matter and was happy to help novices. Then egos got in the way, other participants began creating multiple accounts to bump their scores and the administrators ignored the entreaties of many members to correct the situation. So I reluctantly dismembered myself (Oh, dear, that didn't sound right. Let's just say I ceased to participate). As a former publisher I would always welcome a friendly and spirited dialogue with editors, writers and proof readers about matters grammatical. They were usually right and I learned more from those conversations than I ever did as an English major. I will withhold my thoughts on the point system in place at Grammarly - but, generally, I'll probably come to the same conclusion you have. Well-intentioned as they are, point systems tend to cause problems. It's nice to be recognized, but perhaps not by others in the running. Unfortunately, I think I've already ruffled some feathers - on my first day!. My answer was correct, but I was given a downgrade; more for political and/or religious reasons relating to the sentence offered by the questioner that had nothing to do with grammar.

Brother DaveJun 08 '13 at 21:15

Sorry about the extra period.

Brother DaveJun 08 '13 at 21:17

Forty lashes for that extra period! Feathers get ruffled - no one likes change. (Even me!) You will find that downvotes are sometimes baffling. I'm not great at mind reading, so I have stopped trying to figure out why some answers get the downvote. It is both fascinating and sad to see how some people behave online. Petty greed for things like points is something I don't understand. I do enjoy helping people learn. I tend to have no patience for people who aren't willing to put some effort into it themselves, though.

Patty TJun 09 '13 at 15:13

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Prevention is possible only through genetic testing and planning on whether or not to have children  in cases that turn out to be positive.

link comment answered Jun 07 '13 at 19:56 Guida Brown New member
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Do not get too invested in expressing these thoughts in one sentence.  You may not be able to state all the information in a single sentence. Another tangent could be something like the following:  Prevention is a two-step process: testing for genetic anomalies, then making birth-control decisions influenced by the results of that testing.

link comment answered Jun 08 '13 at 18:46 Katherine Patrick New member

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