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Resource Summary: This page explains parallel construction and addresses avoiding errors in constructing sentences with series.
Last Updated: 05/17/11
Parallel ideas must be presented in parallel grammatical form. Parallel grammatical form means that each part of a sentence uses the same grammatical structure, as in the following examples:
Between and And
Incorrect: We debated the difference between the weather in Minnesota in the winter and how hot it is in the summer.
Correct: We debated the difference between the weather in Minnesota in the winter and the weather in Minnesota in the summer.
Both and And
Incorrect: The films were enjoyable to watch and discuss.
Correct: The films were enjoyable to watch and to discuss.
Neither and Nor; Either and Or
Incorrect: Neither the responses to the questionnaire nor what we asked on the survey were answered.
Correct: Neither the responses to the questionnaire nor the responses to the survey were answered.
Not Only and But Also
Incorrect: It was surprising not only that the house sold, but also it sold well over the asking price.
Correct: It was surprising not only that the house sold but also that it sold well over the asking price.
Parallel Construction in a Series
Sentences with series, or lists, require particular attention to parallel construction.
Incorrect: This paper will address No Child Left Behind, how to teach effectively, and instructing with multimedia aids.
We must correct this sentence so that each element in the list has the same grammatical form:
Correct: This paper will address No Child Left Behind benchmarks, effective teaching strategies, and multimedia instructional aids.
Now, the series has parallel elements (benchmarks, strategies, and aids are all plural nouns).