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English Grammar

Parallel Structure

Take the Quiz on Parallel Structures




Parallel structure means that the same structure such as words, phrases, clauses, and conjunctions represent the same patterns. If we are using coordinating conjunctions i(and, but, nor, for, yet) to join words in a sentence, we must follow the grammatical structure of the coordinating conjunctions. For example:

Incorrect structure: I neither like ice cream or cola beverages.
Correct structure: I neither like ice cream nor cola beverages.

Incorrect: Not only I have passed the test but as well received a congratulation letter from my teacher.
Correct: Not only I have passed the test but also received a congratulation letter from my teacher.

Incorrect: To prevent diseases, you must eat healthy, sleeping enough and getting a regular medical checkup.
Correct: To prevent diseases, you must eat healthy, sleep enough and get a regular medical checkup.

Incorrect: I love to travel and reading.
Correct: I love to travel and read. Or, I love traveling and reading.

The Parallel Structure in Conjunctions

The conjunctions, and, but, or, nor, for, yet are the coordinating conjunctions we use often. When using coordinating conjunctions, the grammatical form of the conjunctions must be the same to join two sentences. As you see in the above example, the correct structure for the coordinating conjunctions not only ... but also must be used correctly for joining two sentences. Further, words with words, phrases with phrases, clauses with clauses, and sentences with sentences must be in the same grammatical forms.



Correct: sadly and happily

Incorrect: sadly and happy

Correct: talking and listening

Incorrect: to talk and listening, or talking and to listen

Correct: miserable and content

Incorrect: miserably and content


Doing the dishes but leaving the kitchen floor dirty (two gerund phrases);

to go out or (to) stay at home (two infinitive phrases);

to throw a party or (to) go out (two infinitive phrases);

down in the hallway or up in the attic (two adverbs with prepositional phrases modifying them)


The doctor, who was a German, spoke to the patient in German and, who later spoke American English to an American patient, was amazingly well spoken in both languages (two adjective clauses).

Not only the lawyer made the case effectively to the jury but also the defendant had no prior criminal record, helped the jury decide in favor of the defendant (two noun clauses).

Because she teaches effectively and she is well liked as a teacher, the parents have recommended her for the best teacher award this year (two adverb clauses).


Steinbeck's Sour Grapes is one of great American novels, but John Steinbeck had lost his appeal after he reported World War I from the battle ground in Europe as a journalist (two sentences).

Words in series:

When words are in series separated by commas, those words must be in the same grammatical form.

It is hard to imagine a diet with no vitamin C. Eat fruits such as orange, grapefruit, berry, and grape; and green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, zucchini and swiss chard to get the vitamin C our bodies need. If you don't eat enough fresh fruit and vegetables, you may suffer from scurvy, mood disorders and kidney dysfunctions.

In the above passage, orange, grapefruit and grape are the fruit category given all in singular and separated by commas. Then the vegetables spinach, broccoli, zucchini and swiss chard are referred to in a series separated with commas as another group of food. They are all in the same grammatical form; they are all nouns and used in the singular form.

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Articles, a-an, the

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Passive Voice


Parallel Structure


Present Perfect Tense

Present Perfect Continuous Tense


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