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Hi all,

A student of mine who is thinking about emigrating to New Zealand brought me the following example of a list:

http://www.immigration.govt.nz/nzopportunities/live /

Look at the yellow post-it note. It says...

Check these first:

-Are you healty?

-Are of good character?

-Have a high standard of English?

Somehow I feel that this list does not work. Can you really omit the subject in items 2 and 3, and combine this with changing the verb from "are" to "have" ? Shouldn`t that read:

Check these first:

-Are you healthy?

-Are you of good character?

-Do you have a high standard of English?

Or possibly:

Check first that you:

- are healthy.

- are of good character.

- have a high standard of English.

All comments will be appreciated.
Comments  
Hello Mr. Patrick,

Welcome to the forums.

You have noticed the lack of parallel structure in the bullets. It's one of the things I always look for when I edit. It's not strictly "ungrammatical," because bullets don't really have to follow the same rules as prose, but it violates the rules for most style guides.

Both of your suggestions are okay, but I prefer the first one. The reader doesn't have to work as hard to complete the sentence.

Another option - although I still prefer the first - is:

You must:

  • be healthy

  • be of good character

  • have a high standard of English
beginning sentences using infinitive
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Anon, what do you mean, please?
Hi Grammar Geek and Mr. Patrick for bring up this.
Grammar GeekYou have noticed the lack of parallel structure in the bullets. It's one of the things I always look for when I edit. It's not strictly "ungrammatical," because bullets don't really have to follow the same rules as prose, but it violates the rules for most style guides.
Grammer Geek, could you please briefly explain what parallel structure means ? I have seen this phrase before but I have not a clue what it means.

Thank you very much.

E
Parallel structure means that all the elements are in the same form.

For example, if some are noun phrases and then you through a sentence in, they are not parallel

Why should you use us? We offer:

  • A commitement to excellent service

  • A highly dedicated team

  • We do the job right - this one is NOT parallel with the others
All of the items in a bulleted list should be able to fit into a sentence in the same way.

My friend Sue:

  • Fun

  • Smart

  • A good friend

  • Enjoys her dog - this one is NOT parallel with the others
In that case, you should be able to simply comlete the sentence "My friend Sue is ____ " with the items in the list.

So, if you go back to the very first list in the first post, do you see how they are not parallel? You can't complete the same sentence using all of the bullets.
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Surely if you are creating a list and use a colon, the sentence preceding the colon must be a complete sentence?!? Therefore all of the lists except the first one provided by Mr. Patrick are incorrect, are they not (despite the lack of parallel structure)?
AnonymousSurely if you are creating a list and use a colon, the sentence preceding the colon must be a complete sentence?!?

I don't agree with this at all.

If you are creating a brochure for a trip, and you want to provide a list of what participants should bring, you certainly write

Trip essentials:

  • Sturdy hiking shoes

  • Water bottle

  • Sun screen

  • Snack

  • Rain gear
You don't have to write

A number of items are essential for your trip:

These are isues of style, not grammar. Your style does not agree with any of the ones I've used. That doesn't make yours wrong and mine right, nor the opposite.