Country Report (Pro)

 

Parallel Construction (Simple Version)

The principle described in the previous lesson is commonly called parallel construction.

Parallel construction is the idea that when you list a number of things or actions, they should all "line up" neatly.

Here are a few examples to illustrate this point:

 
Not Parallel Parallel

He is a tall man and smart and handsome.

  • a tall man = noun
  • smart = adjective
  • handsome = adjective

The mix of nouns and adjectives in this sentence makes it unpleasant to read.

He is tall, smart, and handsome.

In this sentence, the words tall, smart, and handsome are all adjectives. The parallel structure of these words makes the sentence a pleasure to read.

Ellen likes hiking, swimming, and to bicycle.

  • hiking = gerund
  • swimming = gerund
  • to bicycle = infinitive

The mix of gerunds and infinitives makes this sentence unpleasant to read.

Ellen likes hiking, swimming, and bicycling.

Or,

Ellen likes to hike, to swim, and to bicycle.

Changing the listed items so that they are all gerunds (or all infinitives) makes the sentence more pleasing to the ear.

He is a liar, a cheat, and stinky.

The mix of adjectives and nouns makes this sentence unpleasant to read.

He is a liar, a cheat, and a skunk.

Changing all the listed items to nouns makes this sentence more pleasing to the ear.

 

These are fairly basic examples, but the the principle of parallel construction applies to all sorts of grammatical forms, including phrases and clauses. By paying attention to this principle, you can become a better writer.

Instructions for the Quiz

Answer the questions.

Quiz