About parallelism

< Previous | Next >

jnzovy

Senior Member
korean-english
Passive cooling methods use a simple mechanisms and require no input of electrical energy or conventional fuels.
The need for passive solar cooling and the selection of appropriate methods of achieving it depend primarily on
a climate conditions of a region.

The above sentences are quoted from a grammar book.
The question is whether the singular form of the verb "depend" is correct or not.
According to the book, the answer is "correct", because the subject part is the form of "A and B" structure, thus suggesting plural.



My question is the possibility that the subject part can be considered as singular based on the assumption that
"the selection of appropriate methods of achieving it" modifies "the need".
Is this assumption possible? I think it can be grammatically, at least.

If not, why is that?
Is it only a matter of context of meaning?
Or Is it grammatically impossible for "the selection of appropriate methods of achieving it" to modify "the need"?

It's confusing to determine whether it is a matter of parallelism or just a modification.
From what I know, parallelism occurs when the structure is the same. (in 'A and B' structure, A and B should be the same structure.)
My question is to what extend the structure is the same.
In the above sentence, is the "passive solar cooling" and "the selection of appropriate methods of achieving it" the same structure?
It seems to me they are because they both perform the function of a noun. I'm not sure clearly..that's why I'm confusing..

Thank you in advance.
 
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    As far as I am concerned, 'the selection...' is completely independent from 'the need' and, therefore, I believe the sentence is correct as it stands, 'depend' strictly in the 3rd person plural.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hello Jnzovy,

    I'm struggling to think of a way an and-clause can modify a noun which precedes it. This doesn't mean that it cannot, of course. Does your book give examples?

    You talk of parallelism, as though parallelism was necessary for two nouns separated by an and to be treated as a plural. I'm not clear that it is needed. For instance if we start a sentence 'This need and the selection of appropriate methods of meeting it in a manner which satisfies safety regulations...', we've established a plural subject - we'd use the third person plural, not singular, but nobody would say we'd used any sort of parallelism.

    The obvious way in which a second noun clause can modify a first one is by apposition. Were we to say 'The need for for discipline, a way of directing the independent inventive initiatives of our employees, dictates that we etc...', the appositive structure keeps the subject singular and we need, therefore, the 3rd person singular, not plural.

    As you can see, like Boozer and Copyright, I reckon we were dealing with two separate items here, linked by an and, and that we need, therefore, a plural verb form.
     

    jnzovy

    Senior Member
    korean-english
    Thank you for your great replies! so helpful!!

    By the way, I'd like to supplement my question to better illustrate what I'm confusing about.

    For instance,

    The need for guidance and advice in schools.

    In this sentence, it is sure that 'advice' is a complement of 'for'.


    In the same way, I wonder if 'the selection~' can be a complement of 'for' . But as you all said, it is not possible.

    The need for passive solar cooling and the selection of appropriate methods of achieving it

    So how come 'the selection'~can't be coordinated to 'for'?
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    But then your parallelism is lost because you have the definite article (the) before 'selection' and none in front of 'passive'. See, I do not know if this is a valid reason but I just feel they are independent. :)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It's a good question, Jnzovy.

    We can easily be unclear about where divisions lie in sentences, and sometimes we repeat words to avoid ambiguity:

    The need for guidance and for advice in schools - the second for isn't really necessary.
    The need for sport in schools and other ways of organising pupils' time - is another for necessary? Maybe: the sentence could be going in several directions.

    So I'd say a great deal depends on context and on the different possible ways of interpreting the words. I'm now beginning to see where your concern with parallelism originates, because a parallel structure can indicate that words like the for we have been considering apply to both noun clauses.

    The need for structure and discipline requires (the short form and the parallel structure suggests one need and a for, therefore, applying to both nouns).

    The need for strength of purpose and application of intelligence requires (the parallel structure suggests one need and a for, therefore, applying to both nouns).

    The need for strength of purpose and the repeated failure of our predecessors require (the lack of parallel structure and the dissimilar nature of the entities suggest separate entities - we are not dealing here with a need for the repeated failure of our predecessors).

    A lot depends on meaning and context.
    [...]
    The need for passive solar cooling and the selection of appropriate methods of achieving it

    So how come 'the selection'~can't be coordinated to 'for'?
    The answer is that grammatically it's not out of the question, but that the sense of the passage suggests to me and to the two others that they are separate. To keep them together you need to organise the sentence with great care.

    As you can see, it's easy to be ambiguous in this sort of sentence.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top