Need-to-know Grammar: Parallelism

May 12, 2006

Items listed in a sentence must have parallel structure. Make sure that similar items in a sentence conform to a single part of speech.

This car is sporty, economical, and goes very fast.

This sentence is incorrect. The words "sporty" and "economical" are adjectives, but "goes very fast" is a verb phrase. This is an error in parallel structure.

This car is sporty, economical, and fast.

This sentence is correct. The three adjectives are in parallel structure.

This car looks sporty, runs economically, and goes very fast.

This sentence is also correct. There is parallel structure among the three verb phrases.

Look at the following sentence and determine whether there is an error in parallelism:

I like reading books, walking my dog, and crossword puzzles.

This sentence is incorrect. The first two items in the list are gerund phrases, but the last item is a compound noun. The structure of this sentence is not parallel.

I like reading books, walking my dog, and doing crossword puzzles.

This sentence is correct. There is parallel structure among the three gerund phrases in the sentence.

  • Read examples of sentences with errors in parallelism at Celebrity Grammar and Celebrity Usage.
  • Take these interactive quizzes to test your ability to identify proper parallel structure in a sentence: 1, 2, 3.
  • If you make any mistakes on the quizzes that you do not understand, copy the text and paste it into a comment. We will try to explain your error to you.
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7 Responses to “Need-to-know Grammar: Parallelism”


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