Get topics and a plan for your dissertation. Find out more.

How to Use Parallel Structure in Writing?

Published by at August 17th, 2021 , Revised On November 12, 2021

Parallel structure, also known as parallel construction or parallelism, is the continuation of a single form of grammar in two or more parts of a sentence.

Non-native English speakers often find it challenging to comprehend the parallel structure in writing and make mistakes that weaken their writing.

Example of Parallelism Vs Non-Parallelism

Parallel Structure

I love to play  cricket, football, cards and cook food.

I love cricket, football, cards, and food.

Non-Parallel Structure

I love to play cricket, football, cards, and cooking food.

You can avoid trivial grammatical mistakes and incorrect sentences by keeping the parallel structure in your writing. Sentences that follow the correct parallel structure are easier to read and understand for the readers.

Parallel structure comes into the equation whenever several elements appear in a sentence in a series or a pair. They are also used for outlines and headings in academic writing.

There are three types of parallelism most commonly used in academic writing, including parallel construction in a series, parallel structure in a pair, and parallelism in outlines and headings.

Parallel Construction in a Series

Parallel construction must be employed in a sentence that contains several elements in a series, and all the elements are of equal importance. Use commas, semicolons with “and” or “or” to separate the parts in the series.

Parallel Words

When using parallel construction for words, the nouns should be put together with the nouns, whereas the adjectives should appear alongside other adjectives.

Parallel Structure

An employee who is honest, punctual, hardworking, friendly, and organized is an asset for the company.

Non-Parallel Structure

An employee who is honest, punctual, hardworking, friendly, and is going to be organized is an asset for the company.

Avoid mixing the verbs when the series consists of several forms of a verb. For example, the parallel construction in a sentence will break if you combine a gerund (a form of the verb ending in –ing) with an infinitive (a form of verb starting with “to”).

Parallel Structure

The research participants responded to questions about communication, negotiation, and teamwork for the best results.

Non-Parallel Structure

The research participants responded to questions about communication, negotiation, and working as a team for the best results.

Parallel Phrases

Like words, parallel construction is necessary when a series of phrases with the same grammatical structure appears in a sentence. Mixing up verb phrases with noun phrases is an example of a typical parallelism mistake when putting the phrases together in a sentence.

Parallel Structure

The study results showed that users of marijuana suffer mental health problems, memory loss, and sleep for a lesser time.

Non-Parallel Structure

The study results showed that users of marijuana suffer mental health problems, memory loss, and insomnia.

The series of verb phrases in a sentence should also follow a parallel structure. Do not mix verb phrases beginning with “to” with those ending in “ing.”

Parallel Structure

The aim of this research is contacting participants, collecting data, and answering the research questions.

Non-Parallel Structure

The aim of this research is contacting participants, collecting data, and to answer the research questions.

Parallel Clauses

You will need to apply the rules of parallelism when presenting a series of clauses in a sentence.

For example,

Parallel Structure

The results of this study revealed that bamboo is a sustainable crop, that it can be used to make products replacing traditional plastic products, and that use of bamboo can help to control environmental pollution to an extent.

Non-Parallel Structure

The results of this study revealed that bamboo is a sustainable crop, that it can be used to make products replacing traditional plastic products, and helps to control environmental pollution.

Parallel Structure in List with a Colon

Any list, including a colon, should always follow a parallel structure.

For example,

Parallel Structure

Experts have attributed modern-day cinema’s downfall to several key issues:  inaudible dialogue, spoiler-filled trailers, shaky cameras, long movie durations, and the audience.

Non-Parallel Structure

Experts have attributed modern-day cinema’s downfall to several key issues:  inaudible dialogue, spoiler-filled trailers, shaky cameras an unwillingness to end a story, and the audience.

Parallelism in Pairs

If you present a pair of closely related ideas in a sentence, consider using parallel structure. Use coordinating conjunctions such as “yet”, “and”, “or”, “but”, and “nor” to establish a link between the pairs.

Parallel Structure

She decided to collect the responses either using an online survey or by arranging telephonic interviews

She decided to collect the responses using either an online survey or telephonic interviews.

Non-Parallel Structure

She decided to collect the responses either using an online survey or  telephonic interviews.

Employ parallel construction when a correlative conjunction (nor, neither, either, or, but also, not only) to connect a pair of ideas in a sentence.

Parallel Structure

The results of this study revealed that brand-building marketing campaigns increase not only brand loyalty but also brand awareness among the masses.

Non-Parallel Structure

The results of this study revealed that brand-building marketing campaigns increase not only brand loyalty but also  it improves brand awareness among the masses.

If a word of comparison such as “than”, “as”, “among”, and “over” is used to link up the pairs then consider applying the same rule as above.

Parallel Structure

He preferswatching football alone over student parties.

Non-Parallel Structure

He prefers watching football alone over going to student parties.

Parallel Construction in Headings and Outlines

All components of an outline of an academic paper should use parallel construction. Similarly, headings splitting the paper into small sections should be parallelly constructed.

Non-Parallel Parallel
Origin of mysticism Origin of mysticism
Rising to fame in the 20th century Rise to fame in the 20th century
Recent research work reveals lack of evidence Lack of evidence in recent research work

 

About Alvin Nicolas

Nicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.