Working on interesting and thought leading articles, particularly in response to timely news stories or events can result in some common grammar mistakescreeping into your work. One frequent slip up is the balance and structure of phrases and clauses in a sentence. It all comes down to being in parallel. 

By Jade Ziola-Sammons, senior account executive

In geometry, parallel lines are two lines that face the same direction and never meet. However, in grammar, it is more about the balance of a sentence.

A grammatical parallelism is defined as “using elements in sentences that are grammatically similar or identical in structure, sound or meaning.” Ensuring you adhere to correct parallelisms will add trust, effectiveness and balance to whatever it is you’re trying to communicate.

So, what does a parallelism look like?

Read the sentence, “she likes cooking, jogging and to read” – something doesn’t sound quite right.
That’s because the sentence isn’t parallel.

The gerunds (verbs functioning as nouns) ‘jogging’ and ‘cooking’, clash with the infinitive (a simple verb combined with ‘to’) ‘to read’.

Making the sentence parallel, by saying, “she likes cooking, jogging and reading,” or even, “she likes to cook, jog and read”, makes everything sound much more aligned.

Things can get even more confusing when you add in adjectives. Look at this sentence, “To make a cake I purchased some flour, lots of butter and eggs.” While the sentence is easy to understand, it doesn’t sound consistent, because of the addition of ‘some’ and ‘lots of’. These parallel options certainly sound better:
• To make a cake I purchased some flour, lots of butter and handful of eggs.
• To make a cake I purchased flour, butter and eggs.

How to avoid parallelisms

Once you’ve written a sentence, particularly those with listed items like the examples above, review it to make sure everything lines up. Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle, if the pieces (gerunds or infinitives) don’t fit together, they won’t work.
Simply reading the sentence aloud also helps you hear whether something sounds wrong too.

For more information on creating PR and marketing campaigns that put the pieces of the jigsaw together correctly and in parallel, get in touch with Stone Junction on 01785 225416 or e-mail us at sayhello@stonejunction.co.uk.

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