Using Parallel Structure
When writing a sentence, make sure all elements are parallel, or treated in the same way. Otherwise, the sentence becomes unbalanced and may confuse your readers.
Parallel Structure with Items in a Series
Incorrect: The walls in my room are painted white, gray, and they are painted pink, too.
- Discussion: This sentence is unparallel because the last item in the series is treated differently than the first two items.
Correct: The walls in my room are painted white, gray, and pink.
- Discussion: Now all the words in the series—white, gray, and pink—are single-word adjectives. They are parallel.
Incorrect: Some of my favorite activities are playing board games, dancing, and to swim.
- Discussion: This sentence is not parallel because the first two series items start with ing words and the last item starts with an infinitive phrase—to swim.
Correct: Some of my favorite activities are playing board games, dancing, and swimming.
- Discussion: Now all three ideas are expressed equally.
Parallel Structure with Comparisons
Incorrect: I think multiplying numbers is easier than to divide numbers.
- Discussion: The two items being compared are treated differently.
Correct: I think multiplying numbers is easier than dividing numbers.
- Discussion: Now the two items being compared are treated equally.
Your Turn Read the following sentences out loud with a partner. Edit them to make them parallel.
- Some examples of marine mammals are polar bears, seals, and including sea otters.
- Sea otters spend their days foraging for food, sunbathing on rocks, and to graze in kelp forests.
- Did you know otters eat, sleep, and they give birth in the water?
- Sea otters are bigger than an otter in rivers.
- They can roam the shore and to swim at sea.
- Oysters, mussels, and they also eat abalone.
- Otters enjoy playing in the waves and to dive for food.
- Thick fur, oily skin, and they have blubber to stay warm.
- Sea otters are social, smart, and they are funny.
- Have you ever seen an otter at a zoo or wild?
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Based on a work at k12.thoughtfullearning.com/minilesson/using-parallel-structure.