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Parallel Wording 

Coordinate like word forms

matched cherries - slot machine


Unparallel and Parallel Elements


A coordinator (and, but, or, nor) joins like elements, such as noun phrases, verb phrases, adverb phrases, adjective phrases, prepositional phrases, gerunds, infinitives and clauses. If the elements are not grammatically alike, then the clause is not parallel.


*My English is improving slow but surely(Adj – Adv)

*We are leaving quickly and quiet(Adv + Adj)

*We'll can speak specific or generally, whichever you prefer. (Adj +/- Adv)

*He works neither efficiently nor effective(Adv +/- Adj)


*The football player ran skillfully yet defensive. (Adv – Adj)

* He welcomes us friendly¹ and joyfully.   (Adj + Adv)


*She walks and texting  at the same time. (V + Ger)

*You I need to write and communicating with others. (Inf + Ger)

*I really like relaxing and enjoy my quiet time.  (Ger + Base form)

*I spend time listen and laughing at his talk show.   (Base form + Ger)


*The gymnast went around the bar and swinging over the top(VP–Ger)

*In the morning and noon the mail comes. (PP–N)

*How to do that and the time I am doing that is a problem.  (IntP +/- NP)

*I don't care who it is or the product he is selling, just hang up!  (IntP +/- NP)


*The dog was barking and we running.  (Cls + ?)

*We were walking but not tiring(Cls - ?)

*We put new batteries in the toy yet broken. (Cls - ?)


If a word does not have an equivalent (same) word form (adjective, noun, adverb, preposition), then consider a way to reword the sentence so that the coordinated elements will be alike grammatically.                                                                                 


My English is improving slowly but surely. (Adv – Adv)

We are leaving quickly and quietly. (Adv + Adv)

We'll can speak specifically or generally, whichever you prefer. (Adv +/- Adv)

He works neither efficiently nor effectively. (Adv +/- Adv)


The player ran skillfully and defensively(Adv + Adv)

The player ran in a skillful and defensive manner. (PP: Adj+ Adj)

He welcomes us in a friendly¹ and joyful manner(PP—Adj + Adj)


She walks and texts at the same time. (V + V)

You need to write and (to) communicate with others. (Inf + Inf)

(The subordinator is to and the base form is the infinitival form.)

I really like relaxing and enjoying on the weekend.  (Ger + Ger)

I spend time listening to³ and laughing at his talk show.  (Ger + Ger)



The gymnast swung around the bar and over the top.  (PP + PP)

In the morning and at noon the mail comes.   (PP + PP)

How to do that² and when to do that is a problem.  (IntP + IntP)

I don't care who it is or what he's selling, just hang up! (IntP +/- IntP)


The dog was barking, and we were running. (Cls + Cls)

We were walking, but we were not feeling tired. (Cls – Cls)

We put new batteries in the toy, yet it wasn't working. (Cls – Cls)


*Yellow highlighting indicates example of incorrect usage.

equivalent (Adj) — of similar or equal status, like

 like (Adj) – of the same form, appearance, kind, character, amount, etc.

¹friendly (Adj) – which ends in -ly is an adjective not an adverb;  in a friendly manner (AdvP)  in a joyful manner (AdvP)

Coordinated "adverbs of manner" are usually marked with a suffix -ly (but not fast, hard, well, loud) or -ways,-wise (sideways, otherwise, etc.)   A few words that end in -ly are not adverbs; they are adjectives (e.g., early, daily, friendly, and lovely).  Note that you can change an adjective to an adverb expression with "in a ___ manner".

² A cleft clause groups words in one part of the clause to create emphasis on the other part of the clause.  How (to do that) and when (when to do that) is a problem. (=) A problem is how… and when… . "General properties of clefts" (Huddleston 16 §9.1)  Coordination of like type15 §3.5)

³An elliptical clause is a clause in which some words have been left out. Because of the pattern or logic of the entire sentence, it is clear what the missing words are.

Related page Adverb Suffixes, Adjective suffixes, Parallel Gerunds, FANBOYS.



Lexical Categories: N – Noun; V – Verb; Aux – Auxiliary; Adj – Adjective; Adv – Adverb; P –Preposition; Det –Determiner.

Phrasal Categories: NP – Noun Phrase; VP – Verb Phrase; AdjP – Adjective Phrase; AdvP – Adverb Phrase; PP – Prepositional Phrase; DP – Determinative Phrase.

Clausal Categories: Cls – clause; F – finite clause; NF – nonfinite clause (Ger – gerund; Inf – infinitive; PPart – past participle).

Functions: Subj – subject; Pred – predicate/predicator; Compcomplement: elements required by an expression to complete its meaning (DO – direct object; IO – indirect object);  Adjunctadjunct: elements not required by an expression to complete its meaning (Subord – subordinator; Coord – coordinator); Suplsupplement: a clause or phrase added onto a clause that is not closely related to the central thought or structure of the main clause.






Practice 1

 At the Movies



Add a parallel element to the sentence.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or "check 1-10" button.



















Practice 2

Movie Review



Determine which elements make the sentence parallel.

  1. Select the parallel word form that best completes the sentence.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or "check 11-20" button.





















Practice 3

Nose Ring

nose ring

Read for Errors

Jeannie has a new nose ring.  She is both excited and defensive about it. Jeannie's parents were upset with and frustrated by their daughter's decision. Her parents think she will be passed over and discriminated against because of her nose piercing. They believe the piercing will alienate her from potential employers and keep her from making new client contacts. They say their belief is based on and supported by research by Northwestern University. One psychologist said that the display of tatoos and the wearing of body piercings is rooted in a person's desire to be rebellious.

Jeannie is annoyed with and frustrated by this conservative way of thinking.  For centuries, a number of cultures have engaged in and celebrated rites with body tatoos and piercings. Jeannie feels that piercing one's nose is similar to and not different from piercing one's ears, which is a common beauty practice. Jeannie keeps reminding her parents that the opinions of and judgments about people with body piercings are changing.

alienate (V) — make distant, make unwilling to support you

annoy (V) — bother, irritate, displease

century (N) — 100 years

conservative (Adj) — not liking changes or new ideas

defensive (Adj) — behaving in a way that shows you think someone is a threat or criticizing you, even if they are not

descriminated (participle) — be treated differently from another in an unfair way

engage (V) — participate

judgment / judgement (N) — to think over and form an opinion; assess and conclude

pass over (verbal expression) — overlook, not appreciate

piercing (N) — a hole made through part of your body so that you can put jewelery there, or the process of making the hole

potential (Adj) — possible in the future

rebellious (Adj) — willingly disobeying rules; bahaving in a way that goes against authority

rites (N) — a ceremony that is always performed in the same way, usually for religious purposes





Decide whether the preposition should be included with the parallel verb forms.

  1. Select the parallel word form that best completes the sentence.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or "check 21-30" button.


Jeannie has a new nose ring. She is both excited and defensive about it.