Chapter 28: Maintaining parallelism.
* identify and correct items in a series that are not parallel in structure;
* identify and correct items in a comparison that are not parallel in structure;
* correct the parallelism in items joined by both/and, either/or, neither/nor, or not only/but also; and
* add words when necessary to complete a parallel structure.
You may remember having studied parallel lines in high school. The lines run along into infinity, always the same distance apart. It's important to maintain that parallelism in real-life situations such as train tracks. If one track went off in a different direction, the train might jump the rails! Parallelism is also important in the culinary world. A restaurant wouldn't use different patterns of china and silver on the same table because the place settings wouldn't be parallel.
Maintaining parallelism (also called parallel structure and parallel construction) is about meeting the reader's expectations, making your meaning clear, and creating smooth and pleasing rhythms in your sentences. If the ideas in a sentence are somehow equivalent, the structure that expresses them should be similar: that is parallelism. For example, notice the parallel structure of the second, third, and fourth sentences in the following passage:
When one lists the responsibilities of a chef, they usually do not include addressing food-related issues or politics at all. They would of course, include serving quality food that is safe. They would include providing an enjoyable setting to experience the food. They would include making a meal at their establishment satisfying and valuable.
--Payson S. Cushman, student writer
After the first sentence, which states what a chef's responsibilities do not include, the passage adds three parallel sentences that outline what these responsibilities do include. Each sentence begins with They would include followed by a gerund.
They would include + serving + quality food that is safe. They would include + providing + an enjoyable setting to experience the food. They would include + making + a meal at their establishment satisfying and valuable.
Parallel structures are often used to add emphasis. The repetition of the same structure-"they would include"--builds to the final important phrase "satisfying and valuable."
MAINTAINING PARALLELISM IN A SERIES
When we have two or more equivalent items in a series, we want to be sure they are constructed using the same forms or parts of speech, for example, all nouns or all adjectives. Consider this example:
The steak was thick, juicy, and it had a good flavor. [NOT parallel]
Suppose a triangle represents an adjective and a rectangle represents a clause. Note how the sentence in Figure 28.1 does not have a parallel structure. Instead, we have a series of three comments on the steak in two different grammatical forms: two adjectives and one clause.
To correct the problem, we need to put all three comments in the same form, for example, by changing the clause to an adjective--
The steak was thick, juicy, and flavorful. [parallel]
--that is, by changing the rectangle to a triangle (see Figure 28.2).
In the next example, the three objects of the preposition for are not parallel in structure. The first and second are ordinary nouns, but the third is a verbal.
Dr. House is known for his biting sarcasm, his intensely blue eyes, and making clever deductions about a patient's illness. [NOT parallel]
In the second sentence, all three objects are ordinary nouns (sarcasm, eyes, deductions), and the structure is parallel:
Dr. House is known for his biting sarcasm, his intensely blue eyes, and his clever deductions about a patient's illness. [parallel]
Phrases should also be in the same form. In the following sentence, however, the first phrase is a gerund (verb + ing), while the second is an infinitive (to + verb).
The large tiger cat loved sleeping on pillows and to annoy the dog. [NOT parallel]
To correct the parallelism, you must either begin both phrases with a gerund or begin both with an infinitive. It doesn't matter which structure you choose as long as both phrases use the same form.
The large tiger cat loved sleeping on pillows and annoying the dog. [gerunds] The large tiger cat loved to sleep on pillows and to annoy the dog. [infinitives]
Exercise 28.1 | Maintaining Parallelism in a Series
Rewrite the following sentences, correcting the parallelism.
1. Wedding Crashers is a movie about two friends who like to crash weddings and eating finger foods.
2. Owen Wilson plays John, with Jeremy played by Vince Vaughn.
3. The film's humor comes from its witty dialogue and how it often approaches the content from a politically incorrect viewpoint.
4. Vince Vaughn is an especially delightful "straight man," who delivers his lines with dexterity and his 6'5" frame is surprisingly agile.
5. The supporting cast is marvelous, from Christopher Walken's crazed-looking but supportive father of the bride and Isla Fisher plays his spoiled but charming daughter.
MAINTAINING PARALLELISM IN A COMPARISON
You're probably familiar with the expression "You can't compare apples and oranges." We can, however, compare Red Delicious apples and Granny Smith apples. Thus when we compare or contrast two ideas--for example, with the words as and than--we must use the same species of fruit, that is, the same grammatical structure. When we don't, we get a sentence like the following:
Is it more important to serve healthy food than keeping up with food fashions? [NOT parallel]
The first phrase is an infinitive, to serve, while the second is a gerund, keeping. To maintain parallelism, put both in the same form. Just as we can compare two apples, we can compare two infinitives (to serve, to keep), or two gerunds (serving, keeping):
Is it more important to serve healthy food than to keep up with food fashion? [parallel] Is serving healthy food more important than keeping up with food fashion? [parallel]
Let's look at another example:
Eddy likes basketball as much as grilling a steak. [NOT parallel]
Here a noun is paired incorrectly with a verbal. Instead, a noun should be paired with another noun or a verbal with another verbal.
Eddy likes playing basketball as much as grilling a steak. [parallel]
See also Chapter 26 for information on using pronouns with than and as.
Exercise 28.2 | Maintaining Parallelism in a Comparison
Rewrite the following sentences, correcting any problems with parallel structure.
1. Did you enjoy Vince Vaughn's dancing as much as how he made balloon animals?
2. Owen Wilson's character was initially more romantic than the way his friend was.
3. During the touch football session on the lawn, Wilson was more interested in flirting with another of Walken's daughter's than he wanted to play the game.
4. Is Vince Vaughn's slapstick humor during the game as funny as he has a deadpan expression?
5. Walken's scowling son Todd, hunched over his painter's palette, is more appealing than his daughter has a manic fiance.
MAINTAINING PARALLELISM WITH BOTH/AND, EITHER/OR, NEITHER/NOR, AND NOT ONLY/BUT ALSO
When ideas are joined with the conjunctions both/and, either/or, neither/nor, and not only/but also, they must be expressed using the same forms or structures. For example:
Not only was the food delicious, but we also got good service. [NOT parallel]
The sentence could be rewritten as follows:
Not only was the food delicious, but the service was also good. [parallel]
We received two things: food and service. Let's look at another example:
Brenda Leigh Johnson is both smart and has a lot of courage. [NOT parallel]
The sentence might be rewritten with two adjectives (smart, courageous) or two nouns (intelligence, courage).
Brenda Leigh Johnson is both smart and courageous. [parallel] Brenda Leigh Johnson has both intelligence and courage. [parallel]
Place the initial word of the pair (both, either, neither, or not only) carefully so that the two structures that follow are identical. For example, in this sentence, the word either should immediately precede the word Russian:
The actress either was of Russian or Ukrainian descent. [poor placement] The actress was of either Russian or Ukrainian descent. [clearer placement]
Exercise 28.3 | Maintaining Parallelism with both/and
Rewrite each of the following sentences, correcting the parallel structure.
1. Police chief Brenda Leigh Johnson is both an astute interrogator and she is also poor at housekeeping.
2. Her subordinates not only admire her but also they think she's a bit odd.
3. Her relationship with her boss is complicated not only because they were once dating but also he left her for another woman.
4. Sergeant Gabriel was the first officer at her new job who began either to like her and he respects her now, too.
5. Unable to find her way around Los Angeles, Chief Johnson needs him both as moral support and she needs a guide so she doesn't get lost.
COMPLETING PARALLEL STRUCTURES
Sometimes we have the beginnings of parallel structure between two elements or between items in a series, but we lack certain words that would make the structure completely parallel. Study the following example:
Edoardo liked the fresh herbs at the farmers' market better than the store.
Because the second item in this sentence is incomplete, the sentence seems to be comparing herbs and store. Did he like the herbs better than the store? Or did he like the herbs at one place better than he liked the herbs at another place? By adding a pronoun and a preposition, we make the second item complete and the meaning clear:
Edoardo liked the fresh herbs at the farmers' market better than those at the store.
In this revised sentence, we are clearly comparing the two locations for the fresh herbs, the market and the store. Here's another example:
Before taking the job, SooJin met with the manager and sous chef.
In this sentence, it is not clear whether SooJin met with one person or two. Add the article the to clarify that the manager and the sous chef are two separate people:
Before taking the job, SooJin met with the manager and the sous chef.
Finally, with a series of clauses that begin with that, it is often clearer to repeat that in each clause. Look at this sentence:
She told me that she wanted to see a comedy, Tracy wanted to see an action film, and George wanted to stay home.
As written, this sentence could be a comma splice with the second independent clause beginning at Tracy. Note how the addition of that makes the structure clear.
She told me that she wanted to see a comedy, that Tracy wanted to see an action film, and that George wanted to stay home.
Exercise 28.4 | Completing Parallel Structures
Rewrite the following sentences, adding the appropriate words to complete the parallel elements.
1. In the classic 1980s comedy Tootsie, Dustin Hoffman had more trouble finding acting work as a man than a woman.
2. His agent told him that he was too much of a perfectionist, he argued too often with directors, and no one in New York would work with him.
3. Hoffman's character found that he became both a better person and actor when he dressed as a woman.
4. He liked himself better as Dorothy than Michael.
5. His friends at home liked him more than at work.
RECIPE FOR REVIEW
maintaining parallelism in a series
In writing, parallelism means that if the ideas in a sentence are somehow equivalent, the structure that expresses them should also be similar. Put two or more equivalent items in a series in the same form or part of speech, for example, all nouns or all adjectives, all gerunds or all infinitives.
The steak was thick, juicy, and it had a good flavor. [NOTparallel] The steak was thick, juicy, and flavorful. [parallel]
MAINTAINING PARALLELISM IN A COMPARISON
In a comparison using as or than, put equivalent items in the same form or part of speech, for example, both nouns, both adjectives, or both infinitives.
Julius doesn't like basketball as much as grilling a steak. [NOT parallel] Julius doesn't like playing basketball as much as grilling a steak. [parallel]
MAINTAINING PARALLELISM WITH BOTH/AND, ETC.
When ideas are joined with the conjunctions both/and, either/or, neither/nor, or not only/but also, put them in the same form.
Brenda Leigh Johnson is both smart and has a lot of courage. [NOT parallel] Brenda Leigh Johnson is both smart and courageous. [parallel] Brenda Leigh Johnson has both intelligence and courage. [parallel]
COMPLETING PARALLEL STRUCTURES
Add words where necessary to complete a parallel structure. Edoardo liked the fresh herbs at the farmers' market better than the store. [incomplete] Edoardo liked the fresh herbs at the farmers' market better than those at the store. [complete]
DIRECTIONS: Rewrite each of the following sentences, correcting any errors in parallel structure.
1. In Crash, Shaniqua dislikes Officer Ryan because he is disrespectful, manipulative, and he's in an irritable mood.
2. Jean realizes that she likes talking to her maid more than her friend Carol.
3. Officer Hanson is not only upset with his partner's racism but also he feels that his boss is being unfair.
4. Anthony is kinder to the illegal immigrants in the back of the van than Jean and Rick.
5. Among the various characters, Daniel the locksmith is one who both maintains his dignity in the face of prejudice and he also encourages others to rediscover their self-respect.
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|Title Annotation:||UNIT 3: PRESENTATION|
|Author:||Cadbury, Vivian C.|
|Publication:||A Taste for Writing, Composition for Culinarians|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2015|
|Previous Article:||Chapter 27: Adjectives, adverbs, and other modifiers.|
|Next Article:||Chapter 29: Editing and proofreading the final draft.|