When writing, it’s important to maintain parallel structure in order to ensure clarity and coherence in your sentences. Parallel structure, also known as parallelism, is the repetition of a chosen grammatical form within a sentence. This includes using the same pattern of words to show that two or more ideas have the same level of importance. In this article, we will discuss the importance of parallel structure and the revisions that should be made to maintain it effectively.
Understanding Parallel Structure
Parallel structure refers to using the same pattern of words to show that two or more elements in a sentence have the same level of importance. This can occur at the word, phrase, or clause level. When parallelism is not used, writing can sound awkward and the meaning may not be clear.
Example of parallel structure: “I like to hike, swim, and bike.”
Non-parallel structure: “I like hiking, swimming, and to bike.”
As you can see from the example, the first sentence uses parallel structure, while the second sentence does not. Using parallel structure makes the sentence easier to read and understand.
Why Is Parallel Structure Important?
Clarity: Using parallel structure helps to make your writing clearer and easier to understand. By using the same structure for similar ideas, you guide the reader through the sentence more smoothly.
Coherence: Maintaining parallel structure throughout your writing creates a sense of consistency, which leads to a cohesive and well-organized piece of writing.
Emphasis: Parallel structure can be used to emphasize certain ideas in your writing by drawing attention to them through repetition.
Revisions to Maintain Parallel Structure
When revising your writing to maintain parallel structure, there are several key areas to focus on. Here’s a comprehensive list of revisions you should make:
1. Verb Tenses
|Revised parallel structure
|I enjoy reading, writing, and to sing.
|I enjoy reading, writing, and singing.
When listing actions or activities, it’s important to keep the verb tenses consistent. Ensure that all verbs are in the same form (i.e., -ing, to + verb, etc.) to maintain parallel structure.
2. Phrases and Clauses
- Non-parallel structure: He likes to run, swimming, and playing basketball.
- Revised parallel structure: He likes to run, swim, and play basketball.
When using phrases or clauses in a series, make sure that they have the same grammatical construction. This could include using infinitive forms, gerunds, or other structures consistently.
- Non-parallel structure: She is both a painter and likes to sing.
- Revised parallel structure: She is both a painter and a singer.
When using conjunctions such as “and,” “or,” “but,” or “nor,” ensure that the elements being connected are of the same grammatical type and have the same function in the sentence.
4. Lists and Series
- Non-parallel structure: The coach told the players to get plenty of sleep, to not eat too much, and that they should exercise daily.
- Revised parallel structure: The coach told the players to get plenty of sleep, to not eat too much, and to exercise daily.
When creating lists or series, ensure that each item follows the same grammatical structure. This includes maintaining consistent use of infinitives, gerunds, or other forms as needed.
5. Comparison and Contrast
|Revised parallel structure
|She enjoys dancing more than to sing.
|She enjoys dancing more than singing.
When making comparisons or contrasts, maintain parallel structure by using the same grammatical form for each item being compared. This could include infinitives, gerunds, or other forms as needed.
In conclusion, maintaining parallel structure in your writing is essential for clarity, coherence, and emphasis. When revising your writing, be sure to focus on maintaining consistency in verb tenses, phrases and clauses, conjunctions, lists and series, as well as comparisons and contrasts. By making these revisions, you can ensure that your writing is clear, well-organized, and easy to understand.