Parallel Phrasing 

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 independent clauses. If the elements are not grammatically alike, then the sentence is unparallel or 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 ¹friendly and joyfully.   (Adj–Adv)   friendly (Adj) 


*She walks and texting  at the same time.

*You I need to write and communicating with others.

*I really like relaxing and enjoy my quiet time.  

*I spend time listen and laughing at his talk show.


The gymnast went around the bar and swinging over the top(prep phrase.–ger. phrase)

*In the morning and noon the mail comes. (prep. phrase–noun)

*How to do that and the time I am doing that is a problem.  (adv. phrase–noun phrase)

*I don't care who it is or the product he is selling, just hang up!  (adv. phrase–noun phrase)


The dog was barking and we running.

We were walking but not tiring.

We put new batteries in the toy yet broken.


If a word does not have an equivalent (same) word form (adjective, noun, adverb, prepreposition), then consider a way to reword the sentence so that the coordinated words will be alike grammatically. For example, you can change an adjective to an adverb expression with in a ___ manner.


My English is improving slowly but surely.

We are leaving quickly and quietly.

We'll can speak specific or generally, whichever you prefer.

He works neither efficiently nor effective.


The player ran skillfully and defensively.

The player ran in a skillful and defensive manner.

¹He welcomes us in a friendly and joyful manner(PP: Adj–Adj)   


She walks and texts at the same time. (present)

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

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

I spend time listening to and laughing at his talk show.  (gerund + prep.)


The gymnast swung around the bar and over the top.   (prep. phrase)

In the morning and at noon the mail comes.   (prep. phrase)

²How to do that and/or when to do that is a problem.   (adv. phrase)

I don't care who it is or what he's selling, just hang up! (adv. phrase)


The dog was barking, and we were running.

We were walking, but we were not feeling tired.

We put new batteries in the toy, yet it wasn't working.


*Yellow highlighting indicates example of incorrect usage.

equivalent (Adj) — equal or like

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

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".

¹friendly which ends in -ly is actually an adjective not an adverb. Use in a ... manner to change the adjectives friendly and joyful to parallel adverbial phrasing.

²cleft sentence –  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)

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

Lexical Categories "Parts of Speech": N – noun / pronoun; NP – noun phrase; V – verb; VP – verb phrase; Adj – adjective; AdjP – adjective phrase; Adv – adverb; AdvP – adverb phrase; P – preposition; PP – prepositional phrase; Det – determiner –  noun markers (e.g., articles, quantifiers, demonstratives, possessives)

Abbreviations used in this web site: Inf – infinitive; Ger – gerund; Cls – 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.