Parallel Construction: What it is, what it isn’t, and how to write better despite hating your 8th-grade English teacher

When I read this great post by Sally Ember, I wished there was a super like button 🙂 The world of parallel construction – deconstructed. The writers out there know exactly what this is all about. Read Sally’s post and get a great primer on how to properly handle a sentence using parallel construction. These things do matter!

Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Parallel Construction (PC from now on) is a type of sentence structure that confounds even “good” writers and many professional editors. Sorry! If you understand PC, then you must have HATED the title of this post!

YES! Points to you if you recognized that this post’s title is NOT written in proper Parallel Construction! I wrote: “…What it is, what it isn’t, and how to write better…”

parallel construction defn

image from

When we write a string (a series) of phrases or words, the rule of PC is: the members of any string must be in the same form or format.
When they are not in the same form/format, then they must be separated by giving them different wording and punctuation than when they are Parallel.

Here is what is incorrect about that part of the title, according to PC. In the title’s string, I…

View original post 842 more words

This entry was posted in Writing.

7 comments on “Parallel Construction: What it is, what it isn’t, and how to write better despite hating your 8th-grade English teacher

  1. Roy McCarthy says:

    Sorry Fran, I haven’t got the strength or inclination to follow all that. I’ll leave it to the educationalists and plough on in blissful ignorance.

    • Oh, Roy – thanks for making me laugh. When I think of you ploughing along, I see you running around the Island of Jersey and creating a whole novel in your head. Whatever works, my friend, whatever works.

  2. jennypellett says:

    Haha, I love Roy’s honesty … And having flipped over to begin reading the full post, I tend to agree with him!

    • I must consult with Sally to see if she has any kind of educational whip advice to bring you recalcitrant ones in line 🙂 We have failed to convince you of the absolute beauty of parallel construction. Back to the drawing board.

  3. Gallivanta says:

    Oh dear; I’m afraid I am a lost cause. Probably a lost clause, as well. I grew up in the ‘let’s not teach grammar to children’ phase of education. 😦

    • The lost clause thing cracked me up. I know what you mean about being a generation who didn’t learn grammar. To the same degree that I am wildly happy I learned how to type, and type fast, I am sad I missed out on grammar. It is a long, slow slog as an adult to get some of this stuff straight. What I can guarantee any doubters – when my editor shows me how to rephrase an awkward sentence and I realize how she has made my thoughts soar, smooth and effortless to read and understand, I am sold on things like parallel construction.

      • Gallivanta says:

        Bless those editors! Strange you should mention typing. I learned to type later in life, and to drive a car, but it didn’t occur to me to study grammar. I still seem to believe I will learn it by osmosis. 😦

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