Parallel structure, also known as parallelism, is useful (adj.), important (adj.), and cool (adj.).

Knowing how parallelism works is invaluable at school (preposition + noun), on the SAT exam (preposition + noun), and in everyday conversations (preposition + noun).

Let’s look at some more examples of parallelism at work:

  • Peter enjoys singing, dancing, and talking about manga.
  • Henry likes to read, to write, and to play video games. (“Henry likes to read, write, and play video games” is also correct.)
  • Nan went to the store and bought coffee, tea, and bread.

Let’s look at a few more examples:

  • Katy Perry likes fireworks, cherry lipstick, and California. → RIGHT (n, n, and n)
  • Katy Perry likes fireworks, wearing cherry lipstick, and to live in California. → WRONG (n, -ing, to verb)
  • Last week, Henry watched 25 episodes of One Piece, read three chapters of Shingeki no Kyojin, and wrote three long articles. → RIGHT (past tense, past tense, past tense)
  • Last week, Henry watched 25 episodes of One Piece, read three chapters of Shingeki no Kyojin, and he wrote three long articles. → WRONG (past tense, past tense, pronoun + past tense)

In the last example, adding “he” to the final item in the list of actions (“he wrote”) ruined the parallel structure because none of the other phrases contained “he.”

Next time, we’ll cover the more idiomatic examples of parallelism, e.g., either ... or, neither ... nor, not only ... but also.