Parallel Structure

On this page, we will learn about parallel structures and examples of parallel structures.


Parallel Structure

When you balance the grammatical structures of words, clauses, sentences, or phrases in your writing, you are using parallel structure. We will discuss some grammatical structure in this section.We'll examine parallel words and phrases in this lesson.

When composing a list or succession of items, we parallelize words or phrases such that each word has the same grammatical form.

  • For¬†words Adjectives should be balanced with other adjectives; verbs should be balanced with verbs; gerunds should be balanced with gerunds; and so on.
  • For phrases,¬†Prepositional phrases should be balanced with other prepositional phrases, infinitive phrases should be balanced with other infinitive phrases, and gerund phrases should be balanced with gerund phrases.

The coordinating conjunction "and" is typically used to join the parallel items, but "or" and "nor" are also acceptable choices.

Additionally employed as connectors are correlative conjunctions like "both/and," "neither/nor," and "whether/or."

Examples of Parallel Structure

Infinitives / Gerunds

He wants to go to Australia and studying at The University of Sydney. (WRONG)

He wants to go to Australia and study at The University of Sydney. (CORRECT)

The first statement is incorrect because the second item, studying, is a gerund whereas the first thing on the list, to go, is an infinitive. Studying has been changed to an infinitive to rectify it.
Adverbs

Jenny reassured that she delivered her two minute talk successfully, convincingly, and firm. (WRONG)

Jenny assured that she delivered her two minute talk successfully, convincingly, and firmly. (CORRECT)

Since the last word in the series, persuading is an adjective rather than an adverb, the first sentence is erroneous. The word persuasive has been changed to the adverb, convincingly, in the second sentence.
Adjectives

Our class room was airy, comfortable, and it was not filthy. (WRONG)

Our class room was airy, comfortable, and neat. (CORRECT)

The first phrase is erroneous because the last item, it was not unclean, has a verb while the first two things in the sequence, comfortable and airy, are adjectives. The second sentence has been fixed by switching from the adjective dirty to clean.
Infinitive Phrases

We can't decide whether to take a taxi or riding our bi-cycles to office. (WRONG)

We can't decide whether to take a taxi or (to)ride our bi-cycles to the office. (CORRECT)

Because an infinitive and a gerund phrase were accidentally combined, the first sentence is incorrect. Since they are both infinitive expressions, the second choice is the right one.
Prepositional Phrases

She climbed the rock, up the wall, and onto the roof. (WRONG)

She climbed over the rock, up the wall, and onto the roof. (CORRECT)

The first word in the list, the rock, lacks a preposition, although the next two items in the list do, hence the first phrase is not parallel. By adding the appropriate preposition, over, before climbed, the error can be fixed.

If you are more experienced, you might like to learn about certain parallel structures that are more intricate.