What Is Parallel Construction?

What Is Parallel Construction?
21 July, 2021

The English language abounds with numerous devices that help make it rhythmic and clear. Having numerous complicated constructions and other rules that sometimes make an English sentence overload with grammatical and stylistic devices, the introduction of parallel constructions may save the situation. What is parallel construction meaning? This article will help you answer this question and resort to this means of delivering information. Having got acquainted with this device, you will definitely use it correctly in your writing, because as experience shows many students do not pay much attention to parallelism and it creates confusion. Improper use of parallel constructions may deprive a person of a proper understanding of your ideas. The distorted meaning of a sentence adds to low clarity in your overall writing. Therefore, read this article till the end to see how to correctly use parallel construction in writing. The examples provided below will not only inform you about the phenomenon but will also help you use the construction in your speaking and writing.

A Parallel Construction Definition

A parallel construction, or parallelism, is a specific sequence of words and/ or ideas showing that they have the same importance. The words and phrases in parallel constructions are structured in sequence and are arranged in similar forms including tense. Parallel constructions are usually used as enumerations that add clarity to the particular idea, expand its meaning, or allow to understand the ideas better.

The major roles of parallel constructions are to create fluency and enhance readability. Even though it seems that parallel constructions may make writing more complex as they add wording, it is a misunderstanding. Even though the number of words increases in the sentences, proper use of parallel constructions can help make it easy to read and understand. Sometimes parallel constructions may repeat some already mentioned ideas. However, these repetitions do not worsen the text but make it better and easier to read. However, if you make errors in the use of parallel constructions, you risk to spoil the meaning and confuse a reader, who will not get your idea properly.

Using a Parallel Construction Example as Guidance

We may talk about parallel constructions more, but it is better to see the examples of how parallel constructions are used in the text to have a better vision of how you may utilize this grammar device. Remember about the correct use of parallel constructions when you list anything.

For example, I want to write an essay about my last visit to the museum, share my experience, and inspire others to spend weekends in such an amazing way.

The words write, share, and inspire are the core parts of a parallel contraction presented in a sentence. The verbs are arranged in the same form that helps a reader understand that all the parts of the sentence are related to the same element, an essay about a visit to the museum.

If the verb forms are different, it means that a non-parallel construction is used, which is not grammatically correct.

For example, I want to write an essay about my last visit to the museum, sharing my experience, and inspire others to spend weekends in such an amazing way.

Inconsistent use of parallel construction creates some confusion and does not allow putting all the elements together. There are a great variety of ways of how one may use parallel constructions. What is parallel construction use in daily practice?

Parallel construction with basic verbs

Here is an example of improper use of a parallel construction and further revision of a sentence with the use of basic verbs.

Incorrect variant: I like dancing, drawing, and to read.

Corrected 1: I like dancing, drawing, and reading.

Corrected 2: I like to dance, draw, and to read.

Corrected 3: I danced, drew, and read.

Parallel construction with nouns

One of the major errors students make is confusing both verbs and nouns

Incorrect variant: I like movies, drawing, and books.

Corrected 1: I like watching movies, drawing, and reading books.

Corrected 2: I like movies, paintings, and books.

Other Common Parallel Construction Errors

Incorrect variant: I have to complete my essay, conduct esearch, and experiment.

Corrected: I have to complete my essay, conduct research, and make an experiment.

Incorrect: Gaining a university degree will both expensive and will be demanding.

Correct: Gaining a university degree will both expensive and demanding.

Justifying Parallel Constructions

The use of non-parallel constructions is wrong in most cases. The reference to non-parallel constructions leads to meaning break, grammar abuse, and confusion. A reader will have problems in comprehending your ideas, as you may believe the meaning is clear, while wrong construction use may carry an absolutely different meaning. Parallel constructions help avoid the useless use of words and repetitions. Saying, “I like movies, paintings, and books”, you deprive yourself of writing, “I like movies. I like paintings. I like books.”

Reasons to use parallel constructions

The use of parallel constructions makes your writing balanced, rhythmic, clear, and easy to read

Here are two simple examples:

  • Non-Parallel Construction: The manager visited the main office to lead a meeting for communication with employees and encouragement.
  • Parallel construction: The manager visited the main office to lead a meeting, to communicate with employees, and to provide encouragement.

How to revise a sentence with a parallel construction?

Define a list in a sentence

You need to read the sentence and find where the list of the ideas is presented. You will have to work with this list.

Check the word forms there

  1. Make sure that the list consists of nouns or verbs only, no mix of verbs and nouns should appear
  2. Consider whether the same forms of the verbs are used, namely infinitives or gerunds, and whether a similar tense is applied
  3. Check whether the nouns or pronouns are consistent

Arrange the words in correct parallel construction format

You may think that working with parallel constructions is difficult. However, when you start paying attention to the issue you will notice that it is easy to put correct forms, and after some time you will not even create sentences with non-parallel constructions and will notice them immediately in the writing of peers.

Read Our Free Sample

Non-parallel construction

Jim wants to eat less, exercise more, and be getting more sleep.

Parallel construction:

Jim wants to eat more, exercise less and get more sleep


Walking and to swim are good aerobic exercises.


Walking and swimming are good aerobic exercises

In the two examples are given, the conjunction ‘and' is used to link the two parallel ideas. The ideas are balanced symmetrically by the use of the conjunction. The similarity that exists between the two given examples is that two sentences have to ideas linked using the same conjunction ‘the', the difference, on the other hand, is that the first sentence represents correlated ideas, walking and swimming, the second sentence, on the other hand, represents diverse ideas, eating and exercising.

More examples of sentences of parallel and non-parallel construction

Sentence 1, Nonparallel

Tom likes swimming, skiing and to ride a bicycle


Tom likes swimming, skiing and bicycle riding.

Sentence 2, Non-parallel

The teacher instructed students to do exams quickly, in a presentable way, and in a precise manner.


The teacher instructed students to do exams quickly, presentably and with precision.

Sentence 3, Non-parallel

The farmer thought that his animals were sick because, he underfed them, he starves them, and that he over milks them.


The farmer thought that his animals were sick because, he underfeeds them, starves them and over milks them.

Sentence 4, Non-parallel

The captain told the members of his team that they should do some jogging in the morning, that they should rest sufficiently, and they should stay free from any loud noise.


The captain told the members of his team that, they should do some jogging in the morning, that they should rest sufficiently and that they should stay away from loud music.