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Common Error: Parallel Structure

Last updated 6/10/2016

 

Audio: Guitar background music plays.

Visual: Video opens to a blank notebook with the Walden University and Writing Center logo. The words “Walden University Writing Center” and “Your writing, grammar, and APA experts” appears. The screen then fades to the video’s title slide with the playlist name “Structuring Sentences” and the Walden University and Writing Center logo. The video title “Common Error—Parallel Structure” fades in.

The screen changes to the following slide:

Common Error #3: Parallel Structure

In a list, all items must have the same grammatical form (e.g., the same verb tense or form or the same part of speech)

Audio: All right. So common error #3 is parallel structure. And parallel structure means that in a list, all items must have the same grammatical form. For example, maybe I have a list where I need to begin each element of the list with the same verb tense or same part of speech. We'll look at some examples.

 

Visual: The slide changes to the following:

Examples 1, 2, and 3

Norah enjoys running, hike, and to camp.

  • Verbs are in three different forms
  • Revision: Norah enjoys running, hiking, and camping.

Audio: So here's an example of an error in parallel form. "Nora enjoys running, hike, and to camp."  So the verbs are in three different forms. We have the progressive, the "ING" form. We have the infinitive form, just "hike", and then we have the two plus the base form or infinitive form. So we have three different forms of the verb. So in order to create parallel structure here, you need to revise this to say "Nora enjoys running, hiking and camping." Or we can say "Nora likes to run, hike, and camp." So we’d use that same structure, verb structure, throughout the list.

 

Visual: The following text is added to the slide:

I finished my paper and submit it to Blackboard.

  • Verbs are in different tenses
  • Revision: I finished my paper and submitted it to Blackboard.

Audio: “I finished my paper and submit it to Blackboard.” So the issue here is that we have "finished" in the past tense, talking about something that I did in the past, and then "submit" is in the present tense. So that just gets a little bit confusing for the reader. Is it something that happened in the past? Are you talking about something that happens on a regular basis? It's kind of unclear. So here we have a list with really only two items, "I finished and I submitted" in the same sentence, and so we want to make sure they agree, that they're the same verb tense, word form.

 

Visual: The following text is added to the slide:

I baked a cake, cookies, and made lasagna.

  • List contains two nouns and one verb.
  • Revision: I baked a cake and cookies and made lasagna.

Audio: And then this last one is a little bit, can be a little confusing: "I baked a cake, cookies, and made lasagna." In this list, actually, we have two nouns and one verb. So, "I baked" and then the list includes "cake, cookies" and "made". Here's an example of how we could revise it: "I baked a cake and cookies and made lasagna." So we can make this into a list with just two items: “I baked” and “I made,” and then the other information in the sentence is providing more information about what I baked and what I made. Another option might be to say "I made cake, cookies, and lasagna." Or I, I could have baked all of them: "I baked cake, cookies, and lasagna."

 

Visual: The video ends with the image of a notebook, the Walden University and Writing Center logo, and the following words:

Walden University Writing Center
Questions? E-mail writingsupport@waldenu.edu.