Parallelism

Faulty:

I hated my girlfriend’s mother, and the requirement to eat three heaping platefuls of turkey made me sick. (shifts from noun object to noun phrase)

Parallel:

I hated my girlfriend’s mother and the requirement to eat three heaping platefuls of turkey.

Faulty:

If I am having sex in Antarctica, then gravitational forces and below-zero temperatures should be taken into consideration. (shifts from active to passive)

Parallel:

If I am having sex in Antarctica, then I should take into consideration gravitational forces and below-zero temperatures.

Faulty:

One day I discovered a box in my father’s bedroom that was small, smooth, and a mystery, and it changed my life forever. (shifts from adjectives to a clause)

Parallel:

One day I discovered a box in my father’s bedroom that was small, smooth, mysterious, and life-changing.

Balance ideas in a series

Faulty:

Wives usually solve boredom with one of the following methods: joining a knitting circle, starting an exercise regimen, seduction of the Con Ed man.

Better:

Wives usually solve boredom with one of the following methods: joining a knitting circle, starting an exercise regimen, seducing the Con Ed man.

Use coordinating conjunctions to balance parallel ideas

Faulty:

The wedded state can either be described as sensual bliss or feeling that you are miserable and stuck in prison.

Better:

The wedded state can either be described as sensual bliss or miserable incarceration.

Use correlative conjunctions to balance parallel ideas

Faulty:

Angelina Jolie not only possesses strong acting skills but she also has fat lips.

Better:

Angelina Jolie not only possesses strong acting skills but also fat lips.

Repeat words to balance parallel ideas

Faulty:

Many daughters torture their parents by dating thugs or through the use of drugs.

Better:

Many daughters torture their parents by dating thugs or by doing drugs.

Fix:

Wile E. Coyote should not only sue the Acme Company for selling him a faulty Acme Rocket Sled but also shoot Road Runner with a .44 Magnum.


Examples of parallelism in Advertising

If you can imagine it, we can get you there.

300 ports of call, 150 countries, 1 address

sensuous, elegant, magical

What moves you? Climbing a mountain, fording a stream, being master of all you survey?

The longer we kissed, the Frencher it got.

Your towels—personally monogrammed
Your bathrobe—pure silk
Your spa products—French lavender

Bring out the skewers, the shrimp, and the only mayo that will make them disappear.

Your life, your car. Connected.

Four wholesome grains. One great-tasting snack

One little serum. Three big results.

Good morning. Your eggs are frying, your bacon is crisp, and you’ve just traveled 400 miles.

Pinot Grigio?
Poached lobster?
Surf lesson?

Two parts luxury, one part flip-flop

A week, a month, a lifetime.
Parallelism problems:

1. Shifted construction

Not good:
I knew she was crazy, sexy, cool, and the wiggling of her hind end thrilled me. (shift in subject).

Better:
She was crazy, sexy, cool, and thrillingly endowed in her hind end.

Not good:
If she wants her brownies just slightly gooey, then flour should be added to stiffen them. (subject and voice shifts)

Better:
If she wants her brownies just slightly gooey, then she should add flour to stiffen the batter.

2. Careless use of correlatives

Wrong:
They indulged either themselves with premeal nibbles or gorged on M&Ms till dawn.

Correct:
They either indulged themselves with premeal nibbles or gorged on M&Ms till dawn.

Fix:

1. She performed flawlessly both because she was well-trained and pumped on steroids.

2. Baked on OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet, I learned that there is nothing more painful than getting up in the morning, getting dressed, and I don’t have to mention the experience of the New York City subway system.

3. After playing Halo 3, Grand Theft Auto IV,  and Gears of War 2, Zar ran naked from the house, ran screaming down Broadway, and five restaurants.

4. At Big Momma’s house, leaving the toilet seat up and result in a beat-down or even dying.

5. Most girls are trying to date me they hope I’ll give them my phone number.

6. I would rather chew ground glass than reading another Harry Potter book.

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