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What are the rules of parallelism? I've been reading a lot about it since yesterday and all I encounter is "They must have the same grammatical form"? What does this exactly mean?

I know how to make parallel sentences with gerunds. The things get trickier when it comes to using modifiers.

For example:

I love using the phone that you bought me and the computer.

On the left side of the conjunction there is a noun phrase that consists of an article + noun + another modifier and on the right side there is an article + noun.

They are both noun phrases but the first one has additional modifier. Is that still considered a parallel sentence?

Another example:

I like to swim and to feel good.

Here on the right side of the conjunction there is an infinitive and on the left side there is an infinitive + complement? Is that parallel?

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  • Note that using parallel constructions is a matter of style. It is never required. In some cases it may make writing clearer or more elegant. Note also that parallelism need not be accomplished inside a single sentence. One can write two or more sentences which are parallel to each other. Jun 14, 2019 at 1:18

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Parallelism can get complicated, but basically, it's about the structure of a sentence in writing. It means keeping the structure the same:

He loved playing cards and he was stupid. [not parallel]

He loved playing cards and riding motorbikes. [parallel]

He was stupid and he was also shy. [parallel]

Earning a good living in the modern world takes patience and he finds this difficult. [not parallel]

Earning a good living in the modern world takes patience so does keeping an eye out for opportunity. [parallel]

Earning a good living in the modern world takes patience so does your job. [not parallel].

Earning a good living in the modern world takes patience so does doing your job. [parallel].

Those are merely examples. I have not yet systematized it in my own mind.

Parallelism is not called for in literary writing, necessarily. It applies to other kinds of writing.

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  • For example, in a noun phrase, If I have "article + adverb + adjective + noun", should the pattern of the last item be the same as the first one? "We had a really bad summer and a nice winter" Is that parallel?
    – BoSsYyY
    Aug 31, 2018 at 20:49
  • @BoSsYyY Yes, that is perfectly parallel. Not parallel would be, for example: We had a really bad summer and a bad winter is expected. [using an active verb and then a passive one]
    – Lambie
    Aug 31, 2018 at 21:04

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