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Parallelism


Simple Parallelism

Parallelism using Common Connectors


Simple Parallelism

Parallel structure is really a matter of balance.  Balancing a sentence can be compared to balancing a scale if we pretend that certain words -- and, or, but -- are the balancing points and if we understand that the words being balanced must carry the same "weight" in the sentence.  One part of speech or of a sentence can be balanced only by one (or a series) of the same kind.

Notice that modifiers (like "down by the pier," "with the sunrise," and "of the fisherman") do not affect the balance of the sentences.


Unbalanced

I enjoy biking and to walk down by the pier.

Parallel

I enjoy biking and walking down by the pier.
  

Unbalanced

Boy Scouts at the camp can learn cooking, canoeing, swimming, or how to make ropes.

Parallel

Boy Scouts at the camp can learn cooking, canoeing, swimming, or rope-making
   

Unbalanced

Non-traditional students often study long hours, get limited sleep, and up again with the sunrise.

Parallel

Non-traditional students often study long hours, get limited sleep, and are up again with the sunrise

Parellelism using common connectors

A slightly different parallelism involves the common connectors-- either/or, neither/nor, not only/but also.  Here, the kind of word or part of a sentence that follows the first connector must be the same as the kind following the second.  Consider the following examples.
 


The storm front was moving either east through Minneapolis or northeast through Duluth.
 

Unbalanced

The hurricane not only destroyed the fishing fleet but also the homes of the fishermen.

Parallel

The hurricane destroyed not only the fishing fleet but also the homes of the fishermen.

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LEO: Literacy Education Online

This page was written by Becky Marchant for the Write Place, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, and may be copied for educational purposes only. If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name of the writer; if you revise it, please add your name to the list of writers.

Last update: 27 June 2000

URL: http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/grammar/parallelism.html