Parallel Sentence Structure

Parallel Sentence Structure
In English, when a list appears in a sentence, a pattern is set up by the first item in the list that all other
items must conform to. This pattern is called parallelism or parallel construction.
Why is this important to you?
Parallel structure is a way of writing that puts your words “in balance” with each other.
The effect is that your writing flows better and sounds professional.
Without parallel structure, your words are out of sync with each other and sound “funny.”
1. For breakfast I would like eggs, cereal, and tea. [The first item in the list is eggs – a single
noun. All other items must be single nouns.]
2. For breakfast I would like runny eggs, yummy cereal, and hot tea. [The first item in the list is
runny eggs – an adjective+ noun phrase. All other items must be adjective + noun
3. For breakfast I would like a plate of eggs, a bowl of cereal, and a cup of tea.
4. He wanted three things out of college: to learn a skill, to make good friends, and to learn
about life.
5. He was the kind of man who knew what he wanted, who intended to get it, and who allowed
nothing to stand in his way.
6. They cried at the loss of their professor – their mentor, their moral guide, their friend.
7. He felt that Angela had change, that she had moved to another world, and that she had left
him behind.
Which one is the “odd one out?” (Circle the part of the list that diverges)
1. We found the film disgusting, offensive, and we thought it was embarrassing
2. There's nothing I like better than finding a good stream, setting up camp, and to spend a couple
of days fishing.
3. Mr. Nguyen kept his store clean, neat, and he made it conveniently arranged.
4. Professor Ali rewarded his students for working hard on the final project, going beyond the call of
duty, and they got an A.
Correct the following sentences to make them parallel. Let the first item in the list set the pattern:
1. Three good exercises can be running, on a ball team, or I like to dance.
2. Before my trip, I need to pack my clothes, washing my hair, and turn off the lights.
3. I like the main character’s courage, loyalty, and he is kind to his ancient mother.
4. For my prom I had my hair done up, a pink dress, and wearing matching shoes.
5. My new exercise program and going on a strict diet will help me lose the weight I gained over the
6. A competent physician will assess a patient’s physical symptoms, and mental attitude will also be
Editing an Essay for Parallel Structure
Directions: Read a student essay. The underlined sentences need corrections! Correct
them by rewriting the WHOLE sentence in parallel structure.
“Cats - As A Companion? I Think So!”
"A dog is man's best friend." That common saying may contain some truth, but dogs are not the
only animal friend whose companionship people enjoy. For many people, a cat is their best friend. Despite what
dog lovers may believe, (1) I believe cats make excellent housepets because they are affectionate, relaxed, and
they are very easy to take care of.
In the first place, people enjoy the companionship of cats. Many cats are affectionate. (2) They
will snuggle up and ask to be petted on the heads, scratched on their chin, or they like a good belly rub under
the chin. Who can resist a purring cat? If they're not feeling affectionate, cats are generally quite playful. (3)
They love to chase yarn balls, feathers, or things that dangle. They especially enjoy playing when their owners
are participating in the game. Contrary to popular opinion, cats can be trained. (4) Using rewards and
punishments, just like with a dog, a cat can be trained to avoid unwanted behavior, perform tricks or go outside
to use the bathroom. Cats will even fetch! As you can see, cats can be just as affectionate as dogs, and just as
much fun.
Another attractive feature of cats as housepets is their ease of care. (5) Cats do not have to be
walked, let outside, or play with constantly. They get plenty of exercise in the house as they play, and they do
their business in the litter box. (6) Cleaning a litter box is quick, easy, and doesn’t make me too annoyed. Cats
also take care of their own grooming; in fact, they are often more particular about personal cleanliness than
people are. In addition, cats can be left home alone for a few hours without fear. (7) Unlike dogs, most cats will
not destroy the furnishings, chew on shoes, or pee. They are content to go about their usual activities until their
owners return. While dogs require a lot of maintenance, cats take care of themselves, making them the simplest
pet to have on the block.
(8) In summary, cats are easy pets, civilized companions, and are fun. People who have small
living quarters or less time for pet care should appreciate these characteristics of cats. However, many people
who have plenty of space and time still opt to have a cat because they love the cat’s personality. Give cats a shot
– head down to your local animal shelter and see if a cat is for you.
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