Parallel structure is one of the
quickest and easiest ways to make a good impression on your readers, especially
experienced readers and writers, because the use of parallel structure is always
obvious. As a reader I always look for parallel structure at the end of the
first paragraph in five-paragraph essay. Consider a topic such as "air
pollution in Denver, Colorado, USA." If you want to write about the "causes of
air pollution" (the controlling statement), your sentence at the end of the
introduction could be "...so the objective of this paper is discuss the three
main causes of air pollution in Denver which are (1) exhaust from
automobiles, (2) soot from industry smokestacks, and (3) smoke
from wood burning fireplaces." (Exhaust, soot, and smoke are all nouns which is
parallel structure, but in this case, parallel structure is even more effective
because the nouns are all followed by prepositional phrases.
While the following examples require just one word
and are relatively easy, look for parallel structure when you read because it is
used frequently among experienced writers.
1. The children are energetic and noisy.
= adjective + adjective
2. She bought a skirt and a blouse. = noun + noun
3. He walked slowly and confidently to the witness stand. =
adverb + adverb
4. Swimming and hiking are my favorite summer activities. =
gerund + gerund
Exercise: Complete the following sentences using
1. Having no job or _____, the student had to drop
out of school.
2. Because I used a computer to do my research
paper, I could easily correct spelling errors, move paragraphs around to achieve
better organization, and _____.
3. While I was in college, I worked as a waitress,
as a typist, and _____.
4. He is a man known for his integrity and _____.
5. Because he was ill and _____, the auto worker
left his job.
6. The professor walked through the door, looked
at the students, and _____.
7. A farmer spends his life tilling the soil,
sowing the seeds, and _____.
8. I was surprised to discover that in person the
rock star was warm, friendly, unassuming and _____.
Look for some online quizzes about some more
difficult parallel structure questions soon.
MORE: To see a brilliant authentic example of
parallel structure, click
MORE: To see my own examples of parallel
structure, click HERE.
Finally, for those with a high-speed internet connection, please take a look
at a video of extreme surfer, Laird Hamilton, considered the best big wave
surfer in history. The video itself is incredible as is the dialog that
accompanies. it. Listening carefully, the dialog contains many examples of
parallel structure as follows:
1. ...I'm arriving at this level because I'm being driven by these guys
to this level...
2. ...so treacherous and so outrageous...
3. ...so powerful and cylindrical...
4. ...extremely shallow, razor sharp...
5. ...mass, power, and ferocity...
6. ...neither Laird nor Derek Dorn...
7. ...you've seen Pipeline, you've seen Off the Wall, you've seen Waimea, you've seen everything...
8. ...Where and what
9. ...what I've been able to have, experience, do....
An attentive listener will probably hear many more instances of sophisticated
parallel structure. The KEY for beginning writers is to begin where you
are at and make a conscientious effort to begin immediately.
HERE or the
photo below to see
the video (will open in new window).