Good writers employ strategies that make it easy for their readers to understand what they want to communicate.
After completing this chapter, you will be able to
- Be consistent in your use of pronouns, verb tense, and active/passive voice (Meyer, 2014, p. 105-106)
- Apply parallel structure (Meyer, 2014, p. 106-107)
Consistency in Number, Person, and Tense
Be consistent in number.
Consistent: They have achieved results in their profession OR He has achieved results in his profession.
Be consistent in person.
Consistent: Before you apply for a work permit, you must show proof of Canadian citizenship or landed immigrant status
Be consistent in verb tense.
Consistent: When the teacher enters the classroom, the students sit up straight OR When the teacher entered the classroom, the students sat up straight.
Be consistent in using active or passive voice.
Consistent: Weather forecasters expect continued cold weather throughout January but anticipate warmer weather in March.
Consistency in comparatives and listed elements: Parallelism
Sentences that contain lists or comparison need parallel structure. creates a good rhythm in a sentence and also ensures that each item in the list or comparison is given equal weight. When items are in parallel, each item is expressed in the same grammatical term. In other words, you can have a list of nouns, or a list of verbs, or a list of adjectives, but you cannot have a list that mixes nouns, verbs, and adjectives.
Examples of Parallel Structure
|Unbalanced verbs:||To live more sustainably, people must recycle, be buying from local stores, and to stop driving unnecessarily.|
|Parallel:||To live more sustainably, people must recycle, buy from local stores, and stop driving unnecessarily.|
|Unbalanced nouns:||Physicians treating anorexics must treat the physical trauma associated with the disease as well as the underlying psychological disorders of low self-esteem, being anxious, and having depression.|
|Parallel:||Physicians treating anorexics must treat the physical trauma associated with the disease as well as the underlying psychological disorders of low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.|
|Unbalanced phrases:||The communication styles in high-context and low-context cultures differ in terms of directness, how they confront people, and responding to criticism.|
|Parallel:||The communication styles in high-context and low-context cultures differ in terms of how direct people are, how they confront others, and how they respond to criticism.
The communication styles in high-context and low-context cultures differ in terms of directness, confrontation style, and response to criticism.
|Unbalanced comparison:||Kayaking on a calm lake is much easier than rough waters.|
|Parallel:||Kayaking on a calm lake is much easier than kayaking on rough waters.|
Watch these videos to further increase your understanding of parallel structure:
Additional Resources for Improving Writing
Try this Linkedin Learning course called Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. When you complete the course, you can add the certificate to your Linkedin profile.
- Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL). (2018, November 7). Mechanics: Parallel structure. Purdue University. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/mechanics/parallel_structure.html ↵
In grammar, parallelism, also known as parallel structure or parallel construction, is a balance within one or more sentences of similar phrases or clauses that have the same grammatical structure. The application of parallelism affects readability and may make texts easier to process.