I have been wondering whether parallelism is necessary when words like 'and' and 'or' are included in a sentence.

For example,

(with parallelism)
You were brave and (were) calm.

(without parallelism)
You have been brave throughout the whole journey and were calm when confronting such fierce monsters.

Are these sentences both considered to be grammatically correct, even though the latter has verbs of different tenses?
Also, are 'and' and 'or' the only indicators of parallelism?

  • He was brave but foolish, You are committed albeit misguided, We are English besides British,... (but We are English besides being British,..., not We are English besides we are British,...) Apr 28, 2023 at 11:13
  • 2
    Parallelism is normally the term used for repetition for stylistic purposes, and as such it's optional, a matter of style. There are many cases where language (even English) requires agreement of tenses, of gender, case, and number, and these are not optional.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 28, 2023 at 11:16
  • I'd say the second example above is grammatical if perhaps a little clumsy. Online, there are plenty of examples of subject deletion with non-corresponding verb phrases: 'You have been and continue to be the perfect balance of gentleness and toughness.' / 'You have been, and continue to be, a great blessing to many.' / 'You have been happy, Susie, and now are sad'. // 'You were brave and calm' sounds natural, unmarked. 'You were brave, and you were calm' adds emphasis. // What does your research have to say in answer to the last question, Tsain? Apr 28, 2023 at 11:25
  • The second example shows parallelism. Try: You have been brave in the past and will be rewarded forever. Lack of parallelism: You have been brave and so accepted your fate. Apr 28, 2023 at 13:54
  • Parallelism is for writing essays and things like that. In literature, you can do as you like or in your personal writing.
    – Lambie
    Apr 28, 2023 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


By itself, the variance in tenses is not a problem, so long as the choice of tenses clearly and correctly reflects the intended meaning. Thus a similar (and also perfectly acceptable) sentence would be:

You have been brave throughout the whole journey, even remaining calm when confronting such fierce monsters.

In your (second) example the parallelism is not of the form “You have A and B,” but rather of the form “You A and B,” where A = “have been brave throughout the whole journey” and B = “were calm when confronting such fierce monsters.” The former verb phrase describes a state (with some temporal endurance), whereas the latter describes an event at a (relatively brief) moment in time. And the state described in A continues up to the moment the sentence was uttered, whereas the event described in B was completed before the moment of the utterance. So using the two different tenses is appropriate.

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