Parallel Structures (Part One)

Skill: Grammar  

Category: General English & Academic English

Level: Upper-Intermediate

Parallel Structures (Part One)

Parallel structures make the ideas understandable and improve the clarity of your writing. Similar ideas that are used in a paragraph must be grammatically parallel and balanced. For example, Jason loves reading, painting and playing games NOT Jason loves reading, painting and to play games.

Parallel structure can be formed in three ways: 1) Between list of words, phrases and clauses; 2) Using conjunctions to connect parallel ideas 3) Using comma in parallel structures.

Parallel between list of words, phrases and clauses:

To ensure the parallel structure, use the same parts of speech between the ideas that are presented in a list.

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1- Single words: Single words of the same types should match each other (e.g., all adverbs, all nouns and all adjectives)

Example:

Not parallel: The English teacher suggested his students to speak fluently, in a loud voice and not to shy.

Parallel:  The English teacher suggested his students to speak fluently, loudly and confidently.

2- Phrases (group of words): Group of words should match with the other group of the same pattern.

No parallel: Getting the first position in the class is related to studying hard, reviewing the notes and to practice on a regular basis.

 Parallel: Getting the first position in the class is related to studying hard, reviewing the notes and practicing on a regular basis.

2- Clauses: The clauses of the same pattern should match each other.

No parallel: The professor at the university expected the students would present their projects on time, be using PPT presentations and would give logical answer for the audience.

Parallel: The professor at the university expected the students would present their projects on time, use PPT presentations and give logical answers for the audience.

Using conjunctions to connect parallel ideas

Conjunctions like and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet, than, as, etc. are used to join clauses. The ideas that are joined by these coordinating conjunctions must be balanced and parallel.

Examples:

Type 1: Coordinating conjunctions “and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet”

Ex: She failed the speaking exam, but passed the writing exam.

Ex: Her behavior with the teacher was good, yet her behavior with her classmates was offensive.

Ex: He practiced for two hours every night so he became the winner in ultramarathon running sport.

Ex: For being successful, you should use your talent and practice as hard as possible. 

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