Sentence Structure Errors
Faulty Parallel Structure

Parallel structure

Parallel structure exists when words, phrases, and clauses that have the same function in a sentence use the same grammatical form.

 There is more to an education than studying each night, writing exams, and getting a degree.

In this sentence there are three phrases that are equal in value. Therefore, they must have the same grammatical form.

There is more to an education than

  • studying each night,
  • writing exams, and
  • getting a degree.

You will note that each phrase begins with an ing form of a word. This is what gives the sentence parallel structure.

Faulty parallel structure

The following sentence lacks parallel structure.

 There is more to an education than studying each night, writing exams, and a degree.

When you list the parts of the sentence, you can see that the sentence does not have parallel structure.

  • studying each night,
  • writing exams, and
  • a degree.

Correcting faulty parallel structure

To correct faulty parallel structure, you must make each of the items in the series begin with the same grammatical form.

 To enter a triathlon, you must be able to swim, jog, and ride a bike.

To enter a triathlon, you must be able to

  • swim,
  • jog, and
  • ride a bike.

You will note that each word is grammatically equal, so the sentence has parallel structure.

The following sentence lacks parallel structure.

 Beavers build dams by cutting down trees, floating them into place, and then they plaster the logs together with mud.

Beavers build dams by

  • cutting down trees,
  • floating them into place, and then
  • they plaster the logs together with mud.

You will note that the last expression does not end in an ing word, so it must be changed to have parallel structure in the sentence.

  • cutting down trees,
  • floating them into place, and then
  • plastering the logs together with mud.
 Beavers build dams by cutting down trees, floating them into place, and then plastering the logs together with mud.
Practice

Correct the faulty parallel structure in the following sentences, using the most effective method.

  1. Three qualities of sky divers are quickness, coolness, and they have to be alert.
  2. The problems with collecting elastic bands as a hobby are finding someone to trade with and how to create enthusiasm.

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