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  Home > InfoWrite > Grammar > Parallelism
 

InfoTrac College Edition

Parallelism

AVOID PROBLEMS WITH PARALLELISM

The term parallelism may remind you of something in geometry. It is an abstract term but the concept is very simple. Think of matching.

When words and phrases are presented in pairs or lists in a sentence, they must follow the same pattern:

Her dieting and swimming aided her recovery. (both gerunds)

He felt cold, tired, and despondent. (all adjectives)

The job calls for an ability to work with small children, keep accurate records, and respond to emergencies. (all verb phrases matching to)

The following sentence is not parallel:
The concert was loud, colorful, and many people attended. (the phrase many people attended does not match the adjectives loud and colorful.)
REVISED:

The concert was loud, colorful, and crowded. (all adjectives)
TESTING FOR PARALLELISM

To test for possible faulty parallelism, read each item separately to see if it matches the pattern of the sentence:

This job requires skillful writing, careful editing, and public speaking.

This job requires   skillful writing. . .
    careful editing. . .
    public speaking.

CORRECT: ALL ITEMS MATCH This job requires. . .

You must record all sales, answer the phone, collect the mail, and the counter must be watched when the manager is absent.
You must   record all sales. . .
  answer the phone . . .
  collect the mail . . .
  the counter must be watched when the manager is absent

INCORRECT: THE LAST ITEM DOES NOT MATCH You must. . .

REVISED:
You must record all sales, answer the phone, collect the mail, and watch the counter when the manager is absent.
NOTE: IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO EASILY REVISE A SENTENCE, YOU MAY BE TRYING TO PUT TOO MANY IDEAS IN THE SAME SENTENCE. CONSIDER USING TWO SENTENCES. IT IS EASIER TO KEEP SHORTER LISTS PARALLEL.


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From The Sundance Reader, Third Edition, Web Site by Mark Connelly.