In this chapter, we are going to discuss the following topics

  • Function of Parallelism
  • Parallel Structure
  • Types of Parallel Structure
  • Coordinate Parallel Structure
  • Correlative Parallel Structure

Function of Parallelism

The use of parallel structures in speech or writing allows speakers and writers to maintain a consistency within their work and create a balanced flow of ideas. Moreover, it can be employed as a tool for persuasion as well because of the repetition it uses.

Using parallelism helps to reduce repetition in writing, so it is very useful for writers. However, it is easy to have faulty (bad) parallelism. In this section, we will learn how to create parallelism, how to recognize faulty parallelism, and how to correct faulty parallelism when proofreading your writing.

The first step towards our effort is to know about Parallel Structure.


Parallel Structure

Structure means before and after comma or conjunction word the structure should be equal.

 

Parallel Example

You can get cell phones in red, blue, green, and black. (all are colours)

Maria likes milk, loves tea, and hates coffee. (all describe emotions about food)

They took vegetables, meat, and fruit on the camping trip. (all types of food)

Illustration: The function of the elements must be parallel. For example, you can join physical description to physical description, but you generally cannot join physical description to feelings.

 

Non-parallel Example

  • You can get cell phones in red, blue, shiny, and black.

Explanation: red, blue, and black are colours, but shiny describes a different aspect of the phone.

  • Maria likes milk, loves tea, hates coffee, and sings love songs.

Explanation: likes milk, loves tea, and hates coffee are all emotions about food, but sings love songs is an action.

  • They took vegetables, meat, and three green apples on the camping trip.

Explanation: vegetables and meat are general food categories, but three green apples is very specific.


Types of Parallel Structure

1.Coordinate Parallel Structure

2.Correlative Parallel Structure

 

 Coordinate Parallel Structure

The coordinate idea of equal rank are connected by coordinate conjunctions and, but, or-or. When we join a list of two or more things in a sentence as we need to make sure that the elements in the list are parallel. Parallel, in this sense, means balanced or equal. Items in a list need to be parallel in both grammar and function.

Example

Incorrect: Sheela knows singing, how to dance, and to teach.

Explanation: Separate the Sentence, the fragment is

Fragment 1: Sheela knows singing (verb + ing- Gerund)

Fragment 2: Sheela knows how to dance. (how to + verb – phrasal verb)

Fragment 3: Sheela knows to teach. (to + verb – Infinitive)

All three fragments are unequal or not parallel. To correct the sentence let us take care of the elements in each fragment, like gerund, phrasal verb, and infinitive.

 

Correct 1: (by including gerund before and after comma and coordinate conjunction)

Sheela knows singing, dancing, and teaching.

Correct 2: (by including phrasal verb before and after comma and coordinate conjunction)

Sheela knows how to sing, how to dance, and how to teach.

 Correct 3: (by including infinitive before and after comma and coordinate conjunction)

Sheela knows to sing, to dance, and to teach.

 

Conclusion: Coordinate Parallel Structure requires one kind of construction to be paired with same.

 

Correlative Parallel Structure

The correlative idea of equal rank are connected by Correlative conjunctions both-and, either-or, neither-nor, not only-but also, whether-or etc.

 

Both X and Y . . .
Not X but Y
Not only X but also Y . . .
Neither X nor Y . . .
Either X or Y . . .

 

Example:

INCORRECTCORRECT
In counseling, we think both talking and to listen are importantIn counseling, we think both talking and listening are important.
They are not for war but peaceThey are not for war but for peace.
This bike is not only fast but also it is safe to drive.This bike is not only fast but also safe.
The trip to the temple is neither a long one nor expensive.The trip to the temple is neither long nor expensive.
Either we must stay home or go with him.We must either stay home or go with him.

Example:

  • Not only did Karthik buy flowers for his mother, but he also purchased a bouquet for Yamini, his wife.

For a shorter sentence, use two prepositional phrases:

  • Karthik bought flowers not only for his mother but also for his wife, Yamini.

Or you can have two nouns as this version does:

  • Karthik bought flowers for not only his mother but also Yamini, his wife.

 

NOTE: Repetition of Article, Preposition, or Pronoun

To keep the meaning of the sentence clear, repetition of article, preposition, or pronoun is necessary.

Example: After the match, we were introduced to the coach and team manager

Correct – Fragment 1: We were introduced to the coach. ( preposition, article, noun)

Incorrect – Fragment 2: We were introduced team manager ( no preposition, no article, noun)

Correct – Fragment 3: We were introduced to the team manager. ( preposition, article, noun)

Final Sentence: After the match, we were introduced to the coach and to the team manager.

 

Conclusion:

Taking out repetitive words and combining similar sentences and ideas is called parallel structure, parallel construction, and parallelism.   In a parallel structure, it is important to group similar ideas and items together. Notice that the commas are placed after each noun in the list except the last one.  For more information about commas, please see our previous lesson about commas.   When using parallel structure, the main rule to remember is that the things on the list must be the same grammatical form.  This is best summed up in the following: