I've got dummy examples below :

  • You use this tool to cut, break, and repair the box.

or is it

  • You use this tool to cut, breaking, and repairing the box.

Also the following cases where there is a preposition in front of the previous verb.

  • She is good at singing, dance , and study.

or is it

  • She is good at singing, dancing , and studying.

I have 2 questions :

1). Do they need to be gerund.

2). Whether or not they need to be, do the following verbs should be in form of the previous verbs' sentence? like :

  • She came, drank, and slept.


  • She was eating, drinking, and talking at the same time.

Thanks in advance

  • 1
    Check out “drank” and “drunk”. As it stands, your example means She arrived in a state of intoxication, then went to sleep. And your second "tool" example is either ungrammatical or it's a clumsy way of implying that breaking and repairing the box are "side effects, consequences" of using the tool to cut. Sep 15, 2016 at 12:16
  • my mistake drunk is perfect form Sep 15, 2016 at 12:19
  • In your first quote, the tool is used to do 3 things. In the second, it does one thing (cut) that results in two consequences for the box.
    – Lawrence
    Sep 17, 2017 at 5:52

1 Answer 1


The following verbs do not need to be in the form of the previous verbs' sentence, but they should be to add clarity to your writing. This is known as parallelism. Parallel structure (also called parallelism) is the repetition of a chosen grammatical form within a sentence.

They do not need to be a gerund, they can almost any part of speech.

For example:

These have parallel structure:

I like hiking, biking, and swimming. (These are all gerunds.)

Mary wanted to make sure that she made her presentation creatively, effectively and persuasively. (These are all adverbs.)

My mom criticized public schools because they require students to attend, receive money from the government, and destroy students' humanity. (These are all verbs.)


Yet, these do not have parallel structure.

I hiked, bike and swam. (Notice the first and third actions are past tense, but the second action is a present.)

Dogs are great pets for the following reasons: they are loyal, they are loving, and because of their obedience. (First and second traits are adjectives, but third trait is a noun.)

People who get ahead do lots of different things such as: attend college, studying, and working hard. (Second and third are gerunds, yet first is a participle.)

It becomes tremendously awkward to read: so the best thing you should do is to make all three actions the same part of speech and the same tense.

Hope this helps!

  • Just want to emphasise that parallelism is a matter of style. Lacking parallelism doesn't make a structure incorrect - only makes sentences harder to read.
    – urnonav
    Jun 4, 2018 at 13:27

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