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Parallel Structure
Parallel Structure means using the same
pattern of words to show that two or more
ideas have the same level of importance.
This can happen at three levels:
Word
Phrase
Clause

# Items in a series must have parallel structure.

Parallelism looks like this:
Shane
,
, and
.
Shane
,
, and
.

Here is an example:
Shane ate the pizza, wiped his lips, and
burped with contentment.
Ate = past tense verb;
wiped = past tense
verb; and burped =
past tense verb.

# elements.

Non-parallel structure looks like this:
Shane
,
, and
.
Shane
,
, and
.

# The problem looks like this:

Shane ate the pizza, wiped his lips, and
burping with contentment.
Now look what you’ve
done! Ate and wiped
= past tense verbs, but
burping = present
participle!

Words and Phrases
Incorrect:
Mary likes hiking, swimming, and to ride a
bicycle.
Correct:
Mary likes hiking, swimming, and riding a
bicycle.
More Examples: Words & Phrases
Incorrect:
The production manager was asked to write his
report quickly, accurately, and in a detailed
manner.
Correct:
The production manager was asked to
write his report quickly, accurately, and
thoroughly.
Examples continued:
Incorrect:
Angry ants, munched the marshmallows,
crumbling coffeecake, and sipping syrup,
Correct:
Angry ants, munching marshmallows,
crumbling coffeecake, and sipping syrup,
Clauses
Parallel structure that begins with clauses
must continue on with clauses.
Incorrect:
The coach told the players that they should get a lot of
sleep, that they should not eat too much, and to do some
warm-up exercises before the game.
Correct:
The coach told the players that they should get a lot of
sleep, that they should not eat too much, and that they
should do some warm-up exercises before the game
Lists after a colon
Incorrect:
The dictionary can be used for these purposes: to
find word meanings, pronunciations, correct
spellings, and looking up irregular verbs.
Correct:
The dictionary can be used for these purposes: to
find word meanings, pronunciations, correct
spellings, and irregular verbs.
Other things to watch for:
Use parallel structure with pairs of words or
ideas.
Examples:
Granny’s method was tried and
true
Man proposes. God disposes.
Use parallel structure on both sides of
coordinating conjunctions
(and, but, yet, or, nor, for, so)
Examples:
She possessed all the wizard’s charm yet none
of the wizard’s insight.
Consult a doctor if your coughing persists or if
your coughing worsens over the weekend.
Correct the sentences with improper
parallel structure.
Sabrina has wit, charm, and she has
an extremely pleasant personality.
Sabrina has wit, charm, and a pleasing
personality.
Continued -
In English class, Tashonda learned to
appreciated good prose.
In English class, Tashonda learned to read
poems critically and appreciate good prose.
Continued-
Coach Espinoza was a brilliant strategist,
a caring mentor, and friend.
Coach Espinoza was a brilliant strategist, a
caring mentor, and a wise friend.
Continued -
We found the film repulsive, offensive, and we
thought it was embarrassing.
We found the film repulsive, offensive, and
embarrassing.
Mr. Tran kept his store clean, neat, and he had it
conveniently arranged.
Mr. Tran kept his store clean, neat, and
conveniently arranged.