1.2: Parallel Structure
When writing or revising a text, look carefully at sentences that list words, phrases, or clauses. In these sentences, the words, phrases, or clauses listed must follow the same grammatical form. This is called parallel structure. Read at the examples below to understand how to revise sentences for parallel structure.
- Not Parallel: Tomorrow, I want to be shopping and eat lunch with Sarah.
Parallel: Tomorrow, I want to shop and eat lunch with Sarah.
In this sentence, the verbs to be shopping and eat lunch are the same form. To create parallel structure, the two verbs must be structured in the same form.
- Not Parallel: Sarah and I always like to shop at specialty shops, shoe stores, and in the home stores.
Parallel: Sarah and I always like to shop at specialty shops, in shoe stores, and in home stores.
This sentence lacks parallel structure for a couple of reasons. First, specialty shops and home stores are both preceded by prepositions (at and in), but shoe stores is not. Additionally, home stores is preceded by an article (the), but specialty shops and shoe stores are not.
- Not Parallel: The best places to eat are casual, fun, and you can get a meal for cheap.
Parallel: The best places to eat are casual, fun, and inexpensive.
Here, the sentence is not in parallel structure because the list includes words (casual and fun) and a short phrase (you can get a meal for cheap). A list should only be composed of either words or short phrases, not both.
Parallel Structure Exercise
Revise each of the following sentences for parallel structure.
- The best music is loud, fun, and you can dance to it.
- Tomorrow afternoon I will shop for groceries, eat lunch with my brother, and be running all sorts of errands.
- That book we read for class was really long, wordy, and didn’t make any sense.
Click here for exercise answers.