Parallelism in Sentences

Very few writers use parallelism correctly. Here’s an example from a Dear Abby letter published today. This sentence isn’t parallel and needs to be fixed:

He is intelligent, financially stable, and loves me and my son.  NOT PARALLEL

Writing the sentence as if it were a poem can help you see where the problem lies:

He is

intelligent

financially stable

loves me and my son

“He is” doesn’t match “loves me and my son.”

A better sentence would have been:

He is

intelligent

financially stable

loving to me and my son

(He is intelligent, financially stable, and loving to me and my son.)

Or the sentence could have been written this way:

He is intelligent and financially stable, and he loves me and my sonCORRECT

The problems always arise with the third item in the list. Make sure it matches the other two – or make it a new sentence.

Here’s another non-parallel sentence. Can you see how to fix it? I’ll add a correction at the end.

We need to mop the floors, wash the windows, and the bathroom needs scrubbing.

We need to

mop the floors

wash the windows

the bathroom needs scrubbing

Correct version: We need to mop the floors, wash the windows, and scrub the bathroom.

OR: We need to mop the floors and wash the windows, and the bathroom needs scrubbing.  CORRECT

Parallelism is impressive, important, and easy to learn.

"Dear Abby" - Pauline Phillips

“Dear Abby” – Pauline Phillips

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