Grammar: Parallel Structure [NEW FORMAT]

Grammar: Parallel Structure [NEW FORMAT]


When you get your paper back from your teacher covered in red scribbles, it can be hard to figure out what all the comments mean. One that students often have trouble with
is “parallelism” or “parallel structure” – that sounds like math, so what’s it
doing on your Moby Dick essay? Hi, I’m Bianca with the Purdue Online Writing
Lab, here to talk about parallel structure – what it is, what it’s used for, and
why your teacher cares about it so much. You may already know that in geometry, parallel
lines are lines that are side by side and won’t ever touch. You may have seen images in math textbooks
like this one, where you have several parallel lines that are the same distance apart all
the way down their lengths. How does that relate to writing? In writing, when we talk about parallel structure,
or parallelism, we’re talking about words or phrases that are arranged the same way
all the way through the sentence (or paragraph, or essay – parallelism is scalable!). For example, if I were to say I enjoy three
kinds of art, I might say I like coloring, painting, and sculpting. See how these words all have the same “ing”
ending? That means they’re parallel – in other
words, they all match, or they are all the same kind of word (in this case, they are
all gerunds). If I were to try to say I like coloring, to
paint, and sculpt, that would probably sound wrong to you. I might even stumble over my words because
they’re not parallel – they don’t flow off the tongue, even though they mean the
same thing as the first set of words. Making single words parallel is pretty easy,
but we can do this on a larger scale, too. For instance, if we were to say “The coach
told the players that they should get a lot of sleep, that they should not eat too much,
and to do some warm-up exercises before the game,” that wouldn’t be parallel. “That they should + verb” is our phrase,
so we have to stick with it all the way through. A parallel alternative might be “The coach
told the players that they should get a lot of sleep, that they should not eat too much,
and that they should do some warm-up exercises before the game.” Can you think of any other ways we could rewrite
the sentence to make it parallel? So, now we’ve seen some examples of parallelism
and we’ve talked about how we can revise sentences to make sure they are parallel. But why does it matter? Why would this be something your teacher would
mark on your paper? Parallelism does two big things in your writing. First, it makes it sound good – it flows
off the tongue and it makes it easier to read the sentences (especially out loud). The less your reader stumbles when they read
your work, the better! Second, parallelism puts concepts on equal
footing. That means that you’re giving the same amount
of importance and impact to sleep, diet, and exercise, to go back to the example we just
did. If one of those items is hard to read or isn’t
stated as clearly as the other items, it won’t be as memorable, and your writing then won’t
treat it as important. Well, that does it for today. Hopefully next time you see parallelism or
parallel structure written in red on your paper, it won’t be quite so hard to “do
the math.” I’ve been Bianca with the Purdue OWL. Thanks for watching! Hi everyone. This is Joe. I’m the guy who edits most of these videos. While I was working on this one, I noticed something very special that Bianca did. I want to share it with you now, but this will require us to inaugurate a new segment I’m calling the Purdue OWL Gesture Replay. Now look what Bianca does here to illustrate parallel structure. That’s right, folks. You’re seeing a brand-new, never-before-seen hand gesture where the index fingers rocket up and down next to each other like two bullet trains passing each other at 300 miles per hour. Wow! That is just incredible. If we can focus now on her left index finger, just look at the sheer power we’re seeing here. It’s enough to give you whiplash! Look, other writing labs will tell you there are no new hand gestures left, but Bianca here finds a way to innovate. That’s why they pay us the big bucks over here at the OWL, and that’s why we can keep serving up that hot, hot content. So, don’t forget to smash that like and subscribe, smash that notification bell, and generally just try to keep it locked on the OWL’s YouTube channel. Uh, yeah. Thanks for watching.

One thought on “Grammar: Parallel Structure [NEW FORMAT]

  1. Hey thank you for putting a name to that…

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