Consistent forms and parallel structures

Hi sweetie,

Parallel structure is established when words within a sentence are united by consistent use of grammatical forms. This is also called of parallelism or parallel construction. This happens in Portuguese but it is stricter in English, so be careful.

Without parallel structures we can can disrupt the rhythm of a sentence, making life harder to the reader. The alignment of related ideas supports readability and clarity.

Let’s check some examples:

  • Not Parallel
    The President traveled to several cities meeting voters, to give speeches, and ask for campaign funds.
  • Parallel
    The President traveled to several cities meeting voters, giving speeches, and asking for campaign funds.

Using and identifying parallel structures

Parallel structure means using the same pattern of words to show that two or more ideas have the same level of importance.

This can happen at the word, phrase, or clause level. The usual way to join parallel structures is with the use of coordinating conjunctions such as “and” or “or.”

With the –ing form (gerund) of words:

  • Mary likes hiking, swimming, and bicycling.

With infinitive phrases:

  • Mary likes to hike, to swim, and to ride a bicycle.
  • Mary likes to hike, swim, and ride a bicycle.

Do not mix forms

If we mix forms while using the parallel structures, the result can be messy:

Not Parallel Parallel
Mary likes hiking, swimming, and to ride a bicycle. Mary likes hiking, swimming, and riding a bicycle.
The production manager was asked to write his report quickly, accurately, and in a detailed manner The production manager was asked to write his report quickly, accurately, and thoroughly.
The teacher said that he was a poor student because he waited until the last minute to study for the exam, completed his lab problems in a careless manner, and his motivation was low The teacher said that he was a poor student because he waited until the last minute to study for the exam, completed his lab problems in a careless manner, and lacked motivation.

Exercises

Check your knowledge doing some exercises.

Beijo do pai!

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