Parallelism

What does it mean?

The balance between two or more similar words, phrases, or clauses is called parallelism in grammar.

Why is it important?

In order for the reader to understand what you are trying to say, your sentence should fit together and match each other. Lack of parallelism also makes what is being said sound very awkward, which is never a good thing if you are trying to sound smart for an essay.

Remember: Poor parallelism will most likely translate to your writing coming across as uneducated which is never a good thing.

Fortunately, most people have been taught to use fairly good parallelism when speaking, which often shows in their writing. The trick however, is finding faulty parallelism as some mistakes are harder to notice than others.

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When to use parallelism:

  • When two things are joined by a conjunction
  • With lists or series
  • When comparing
  • When two things are joined by a linking verb

To help get a better picture of parallelism here are some examples:

We spent our Saturday eating junk food, playing video games and we swam.

This sentence has poor parallelism due to how the verb in the sentence do not have the same tense. A better sentence would be:

We spent our Saturday eating junk food, playing video games and swimming.

The verb tenses now agree with each other which means we can now all be happy.

You can apply to the job by filling out this form or apply by telephone.

This is an example where it may seem grammatically correct at first glance, but after a further look you may see that it is in fact not.

You can apply to the job by filling out this form or you can apply by telephone.

In this case, the word can is needed in order for the verb tenses to agree with each other.

A trick to use when revising writing to help with parallelism is to look at the case of the first verb in the sentence and check to see if all the other verbs in the sentence agree with its tense. This is a good way of making sure that there are no sentences that may sound seem correct at first.

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In Summary: Parallelism is important because it makes a piece of writing flow as it should. If there is a lack of parallelism, then the reader may get frustrated or even deem the piece of writing as having a lack of credibility.

Bibliography:

“GRAMMAR.” English Grammar – Parallelism Rules and Definitions. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2016.

Simmons, Robin L. “Parallel Structure.” Grammar Bytes! :: Parallel Structure. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2016.

 

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