Parallel Structure


What is Parallel Structure? 

Parallel structure or Parallelism is a way of writing a sentence in which we keep equivalent ideas in the same grammatical form. A lack of parallel structure in a sentence is not just bad but it can be a source of confusion. 

Take for example, a sentence that lists the characteristics of a restaurant in which to have a family birthday party. 
  • We are looking for a place that is private, spacious, friendly and attractive. 
When we you arrange the pieces of a sentence in parallel form, the writing becomes clearer and stronger. 

Principles’ of Parallel Structure:

1. Parallel ideas should be expressed in same grammatical form. Use conjunctions such as and, but, for, so, or, yet and nor to join parallel ideas. 
  •   Faulty: Hazel’s parents objected that she played loud music and to the late hours she kept.   
  •  Parallel: Hazel’s parents objected to the loud music she played and to the late Hours she kept.    
The parallel ideas consist of prepositional phrase followed by a pronoun (she) and verbs in the past tense (played, kept).

2. When we compare and contrast, parallel ideas should have grammatical 
equivalence. An idea started in a clause must be paired with another idea stated in a clause, and so forth.
  • Faulty: They are worried about public opinion than what the effect of the proposal may be. 
  • Parallel: They are worried more about public opinion than about the effect of the proposal.         
The prepositional phrase about public opinion does not pair with the clause what the effect of the proposal may be in the faulty sentence. 

3. Parallel ideas can also be expressed with pair of words such as either/or, neither/ nor, whether/or, both/and, and not only/ but also. But keep both words close to the parallel ideas.
  •  Faulty: I either plan to invite my aunt or my uncle to go to shopping with me.
The signal word either is too far removed from the parallel phrase, my aunt or my uncle. Its placement misleads the reader thinking that the verb plan is one of the parallel ideas. 
  • Parallel: I plan to invite either my aunt or my uncle to go for shopping with me. 

4. When articles, prepositions, and conjunctions appear before the first in a series of parallel items, they may have to be repeated before the others in the series. 
  • Faulty: Our mechanic did a better job on my car than his. 
The sentence is unclear, whether two mechanics worked on the same car or one mechanic is ambiguous. To make it clear repeat the preposition ‘on’. 
  • Parallel: Our mechanic did a better job on my car than on his. 

5. Parallel ideas should be of logical equivalence. 
  • Faulty: Terry is six feet tall, kind and a Texan.
Physical features, traits of character, and place of origin are not logically coordinated. 
  • Parallel: Terry, a six feet tall Texan, is kind. 

6. When we list elements in a sentence we have to maintain the same form.
  • Faulty: The dictionary can be used to find these: word meanings,       pronunciations, correct spellings, and looking up irregular verbs.
  • Parallel: The dictionary can be used to find these: word meanings, pronunciations, correct spellings, and irregular verbs.