Is What You're Saying "Parallel" ?

Paying attention to parallel structure is one way to rid your English of inconsistent logic.


Parallel Structure

Parallel lines are lines which maintain the same distance apart at any point and never cross or "mix."


In English grammar, parallel structure is when any element--such as a sentence-- is free of mixed of formatting.


Can you determine why the following sentence is not parallel?:


We like to swim, play tennis, and jogging.


Here we have a list of three things that we like. The first two are in the same format, but the third is in a different format.


Here are two ways to correct it, both using one of the two formats for all three elements:


(1) We like to swim, play tennis, and jog.

(2) We like swimming, playing tennis, and jogging.

Another way to commit "faulty parallelism" is to add an additional independent clause when it isn't necessary.

Example 1:

Susan was walking her dog, and she was watching the sun go down.


Susan and she are the same subject, so the latter isn't necessary in the same sentence.




Here are two ways to correct it:


(1) Susan was walking her dog while watching the sun go down.

(2) Susan walked her dog and watched the sun go down.


Example 2:

The pandemic caused the resort town to have fewer visitors and less traffic, but it created more opportunities to rent retail space at better prices.

There is no need for additional independent clauses if they merely repeat or add elements to structures already present in the primary independent clause(s).

Here are two ways to correct it:


(1) The pandemic caused the resort town to have fewer visitors and less traffic but more opportunities to rent retail space at better prices.


(2) The pandemic caused the resort town to have fewer visitors and less traffic but created more opportunities to rent retail space at better prices.


If the subject is the same in both clauses, two independent clauses are not necessary in the same sentence.

This is the reasoning is reflected in both revised sentences.


The next revision is up to the judgment of the writer who should decide whether overall brevity or contrast (of caused and created) is the priority. In the first revision, the second verb created, because it is similar to the first verb caused, is omitted. In the second revision, the second verb is retained because the two verbs, created and caused, are not identical in meaning and could be considered somewhat contrasting.


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Thanks for reading!

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