Which sentence properly uses parallel structure?a. Lisa wants to go dancing, with her friends, downtown. b. Before he left for college, Peter’s dad took him to buy a car, a laptop, and a cell...

Which sentence properly uses parallel structure?

a. Lisa wants to go dancing, with her friends, downtown.

b. Before he left for college, Peter’s dad took him to buy a car, a laptop, and a cell phone.

c. Basketball, soccer, and playing golf all use balls.

d. Going to the mall, buying some jewelry, and visiting are all fun. [I think D is the right answer but i am not sure.]

Asked on by mzamorai

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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"Parallelism or parallel structure demonstrates a balance of two or more similar words, phrases, or clauses."  Its purpose is to maintain clarity and readability in writing.  (The previous sentence has correct parallel structure, i.e., clarity and readability.)  The rule is that all lists of items and pairs or series of related words, phrases, or clauses must have similar content and equality of wording.

Basically, parallel structure means using the same pattern of words to show that two or more ideas have the  same value of importance.

The usual way to join parallel parts of the sentence is with the use of coordinating conjunctions such as "and" or "or."

Here are examples of parallel structure:

Parallel verbs: Mary likes hiking, swimming, and bicycling.

Parallelism with infinitive phrases which begin with to and are followed by a verb form:

Mary likes to hike, to swim, and to ride a bicycle.

(You do not have to put the to before each part of the structure:

Mary likes to hike, swim, and ride a bicycle.)

Be sure to keep all of the elements in a list in the same form.

Look at your sentences:

A. Lisa wants to go dancing, with her friends, downtown. 

There is no list or series, so paralllelism does not affect this sentence. The commas should also be taken out of the sentence.

B. Before he left for college, Peter's dad took him to buy a car, a laptop, and a cell phone

You have three items that the father is going to buy: a car, a laptop, and a cell phone. 

C. Basketball, soccer, and playing golf all use balls.

The sentence is not parallel because basketball and soccer are nouns and playing golf is a gerund phrase. When corrected it would read, "Basketball, soccer, and golf all use balls."

D. Going to the mall, buying some jewelry, and visitng are all fun.

The sentence is not parallel because going to the mall and buying some jewelry are phrases and visiting is a single word. 

We could fix the sentence easily by saying: Going to the mall, buying some jewelry, and visiting with Santa Claus are all fun.

The correct answer is B. It follows the rule of parallelism.

These are the basic rules for parallelism. Understanding and using correct parallel structures determine the difference between beginning writing and mature writing.

Sources:

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