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#TuesdayTutorial: Using Parallel Structures

#TuesdayTutorial: Using Parallel Structures published on 19 Comments on #TuesdayTutorial: Using Parallel Structures

MRBCRGEO_Parallelogram_diagonal_example by michellebarnhill on Flickr, used under a CC-BY-SA 2.0 licenseThe columns of information in your Analysis project should use parallel grammatical structures. I’m sure that you all know what the word parallel means. You probably encountered it in a geometry course a long time ago. Remember the parallelogram?

You have probably seen the concept in courses here at Tech. Consider these examples:

  • A mechanical engineering major is likely to be aware of parallelism control and parallelism tolerance.
  • A building construction major knows that various parts of a building need to be parallel. (Imagine how annoying a staircase would be if the steps weren’t parallel.)
  • A computer science or computer engineering major knows all about parallel processing.
  • A finance major would be familiar with parallel portfolio optimization, parallel loans, and parallel markets.
  • A business major may know about organizational parallelism, including parallel leadership and parallel learning.

In all these examples, parallel generally means that two or more things match in some way. That is essentially what parallelism means in a writing course as well. When you are composing your Analysis table, choose parallel phrasing for the information in each column. For example, you might start everything in the purpose column with infinitive verbs (verb phrases that start with “to,” such as to explain or to provide).

You can find out more about parallelism in the video on Parallel Structures (6m40s). The video begins with details on parallelism within a single sentence. At 4m50s into the video, the video discusses parallelism in bullet lists, outlines, and headings. That section of the video is closest to the kind of parallelism you will use for the columns of your Analysis table. Login Help videos are free to Virginia Tech students with your VT.EDU login. Start at the VT.EDU login page to access these resources.

Screenshot of the Parallel Structure video


Note: This video has closed captioning, so it does not need a transcript.


Image credit: MRBCRGEO_Parallelogram_diagonal_example by michellebarnhill on Flickr, used under a CC-BY-SA 2.0 license.



I thought the video was helpful in understanding the general concept of parallel structures. That type of structure in writing was actually never brought to my attention. However, it makes a ton of sense and whenever I read through the examples of nonparallel structure, it always seemed as if something was wrong or out of joint. The aspect of parallel structure for me that makes an article easy to read is not necessarily that the words stay the same, but the flow and tense of the paragraph stays constant.

I never thought of how the sentence structure can either add or detract from the flow of a sentence, but it makes sense. I like how the video addressed the way in which you write your list of items or sentences makes a parallel when everything flows, however it detracts from the overall statement when the writer uses different verb tenses and structure of listing items. A nonparallel structure isn’t necessarily and I don’t think, but parallel structure enhances the overall tone of the paragraph.

I found this post helpful, especially with the example that relates to business and finance majors (since I am a business minor and have taken classes in both areas). As an English major, though, I understood immediately in the assignment when you discussed the need to “pay attention to parallelism.” This has been something that has been frequently drawn to my attention by either teachers or peers during peer editing, so I feel fortunate to have some firm footing on that concept before heading into this next assignment.

I have heard of parallel structure before, however I never have understood how it worked before. After watching this video it helps me to understand better what a parallel structure is. Parallel structure helps the reader notice a pattern which helps the reading flow better. Because if there is an unparallel structure, the reader might notice that something is off and it doesn’t match the flow that they are expecting. I feel like I could do patter at using a parallel structure in my writing to help it flow better.

Parallel structure is a familiar topic to me. It has been a common theme in writing classes I have taken. It is clear that something is off when the document is in unparalleled structure and I can understand why it is difficult to pin point why that occurs. My go-to rule is if something sounds funny when read out loud it probably is not in parallel structure and edits must be made. The video gave great examples of what to look out for and will definitely keep it in mind with this next assignment.

After watching the first minute or two of this video I realized that I notice when a writer is not using parallel structure in their writing. Often time this is because I have to re-read the sentence because the sentence doesn’t flow and is difficult to understand. I have also experienced this in my own writing, especially when working on assignments for my building construction classes. I tend to write using parallel structure because I like lists and sentences to appear uniform and sound similar. While I do vaguely remember this topic from high school, this video has been a helpful refresher and will ultimately be useful in the future.

Overall I think the video was helpful, some of the examples however, included sentences that did not flow well. I think in order for writing to be conveyed effectively it has to have good flow, and a decent amount of parallelism. But, in some cases I think sentences that are not parallel add a more natural effect, and create more of a sense of real time conversation. I know when I am speaking to my friends or family, I do not think about parallelism I just talk about what is going on in my mind.

Another thing I have personally noticed in my writing is that I tend to create run on sentences, and a lot of the times it is due to my sentences being non parallel. I have never really learned or heard about this sentence structure, so to be able to associate a word with this fallacy is interesting, and it will definitely help me focus more on making my writing smoother,

The use of parallel structures was always a highly pointed out in my English classes through high school and college. I feel as if I’ve always been good at catching misuse of parallelism in writings. I’ve always found it easy to point out misuses of parallel structures in sentences because the sentences tend not to flow smoothly when parallelism is incorrectly used. However, I do tend to find it a tad bit more sometimes to implement correct parallelism. This is because some circumstances of parallelism are not as straightforward, or easy to see as other instances. Being able to keep your sentence structure consistent is important for the sentence to have a smooth flow for the reader.

This is very interesting! i have heard Parallel Structures concept since the first i learned the English. However, i never pay attention on it. i didn’t thought that unparalleled and paralleled sentences had much difference. the video is very helpful to understand the difference and importance of Parallel structure. Parallel structure helps the reader recognize a pattern, which can be used in the project writing for describing project purpose.

I have never heard about parallel structures before but I have actually looked through sentences to ensure I was using it. I always thought that making everything in my sentence similar just sounded better. I had no idea that it was the proper way to write. Using parallel structure allows sentences to flow better. It is the kind of mistake that is hard to point out, but it is obvious that there is one.

I think the video was very helpful and informative. After watching the video, I realized how my writings looked like to professors because I never cared about the parallel structure when writing. The parallel structure makes sentences or paragraphs easy to read and understand, and especially look organized. The knowledge I gained from this article and video would be definitely useful when writing.I will try to write the next project applying what I just learned.

The video clarified what parallel structures meant and I could see the difference in conveying information through unparallel and parallel structures. I think I usually try to write in a concise manner, rather than considering parallel structures. This helped in showing all the different ways you can change sentences to make them parallel.

The example in the video for noun clauses seems to completely change the meaning of the sentence while converting it to a parallel structure.

“When Ted saw Ellie’s recommendation, he asked to see what secondary research she had collected and her primary survey results,” seems to mean that Ted wants to read secondary sources of information that Ellie had found and Ellie’s analysis of survey data.

“When Ted saw Ellie’s recommendation, he asked to see what secondary research she had collected and how she had collected her primary survey results,” seems to mean that Ted wants to read secondary sources of information that Ellie had found and details about Ellie’s survey data collection methodology.

I think a better way to convert this to parallel structure while retaining the original meaning is: “When Ted saw Ellie’s recommendation, he asked to see the secondary research she had collected and her primary survey results.”

I was a little bit confused as to what parallel structures entailed before I had read this post. No one has ever mentioned this sort of writing technique to me in the past. However, it makes perfect sense to organize my writing in this way. I feel as though people naturally tend to do this, but could easily make a mistake if they are not paying attention to their writing. I think people naturally do this because it makes writing sound less awkward. It could be a good idea to read things out loud if you are not sure your writing is parallel. This video also did a good job of describing what parallel structures are, and gave some good examples to explain it further.

I’ve never heard of parallel structures in writing before, so this was an interesting video to watch. Sure, for the SAT I had to know parallel structures were the right answer, but I did it based on what sounded the best, not because I consciously looked to make the adverbs agree with each other. In all of my writing and history classes, this has never been discussed. But after watching the video, I realized the importance of making sure your sentences are in parallel, so perhaps I will bring that up next time I’m in a relevant class–and I’ll know the proper term! However, I did find that some of the example sentences, especially the one about Ted & Ellie, didn’t necessarily sound bad when I read them. If it isn’t incorrect but doesn’t sound bad, does it still need to be changed?

I really liked the video as it shows a topic that I always gave little attention which is parallel structures whether in a sentence or bullet lists. It is not the matter of whether it sounds right or wrong but more on how to make our writing seems more structured to the reader’s eyes. We as a writer do not want our readers to get lost in understanding our writings especially in a table form as each data presented needs to stand out and in order to do that is by applying the parallel structures. This would definitely help me a lot for my upcoming assignment about doing the analysis of writing in my field as I will be presenting a lot of data for this assignment so surely I need to try having parallel structures in it.

I though that this video was very helpful in clarifying what parallel structures and displayed how much of a difference it has on the flow of the sentence. Parallel structures was not covered very much in my previous classes, and this video helped me have a better understanding of it. This will help me with making longer sentences sound smoother and in making my writing more clear. The examples in this video really helped in showing what influences parallel structure and the difference between a sentence with good parallel structure and one without it.

This is the first time that I heard something called parallel structures. After I watched this video, I found it’s really helpful to write a paper in parallel structure. It makes things go more smooth and get more logic for readers to read. It’s just hard to understand a topic when the writing is poor and is mixed with things, that kind of articles are not organized. The parallel structure seems a good cure for me in the future to fix my own problem about the logic and the main point of my sentences. When I’m writing papers, it’s just ease to lose the topic that I’v been focus on and have some mixed grammar. It’s very helpful for me, I will definitely pay more attentions on the structure representing.

I thought this video was very helpful for our Analysis assignment. Parallel structure is a very important thing when you stop to think about it. Using proper parallel structure will help make my Analysis assignment look more professional. I think it is most important for the reader. If your sentence structure does not follow the same grammatical form, it can trip the reader up when he or she is going through your document. You should want to make your sentences as easy to read for the reader as possible.

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