#3 of 21: Writing: You Have to Use Parallel Structure!

Parallel sentence structure is not an option. We have to use it. Unless, of course, you need to stay at MySpace-level writing. You know, for writing at MySpace.

What is Parallel Structure?
Whenever you have a list of items, ideas, or points, state them the same way. Here’s what I mean:

  • We came, we saw, we conquered. Parallel
  • We came, seeing was something else we did, to conquer was our final goal. Not parallel. Don’t do this. Seriously.

Notice in the first example how all the ideas or point are presented in the same way; in this case: noun, verb; noun, verb; noun, verb.

Notice in the second example… do we really have to discuss it? Fine. The second example goes: noun, verb; gerund, verb; infinitive, verb. That’s messed up! (As we say on the streets.)

You do not need to know which part of speech or the grammar of what you are doing. You just need to use parallel structure.

Another Example

“I do not know or care what terrorists and tyrants make of our monuments to democracy and the memorials we dedicate to our dead. What’s important is what the monuments and memorials say to us. They can teach us much about the ideas that unite us in our diversity, the values that sustain us in times of trial, and the dream that inspires generation after generation of ordinary Americans to perform extraordinary acts of service. In short, our monuments and memorials tell us a great deal about America’s commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.”

– Colin Powell

See the underlined parts? Parallel structure can be as simple or as complex as needed.

What do you think? Send in examples if ya got ’em.


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