Chapter 5

Drawing Parallels (Without the Lines)


Bullet Constructing parallel sentences

Bullet Aiming for consistency in tense, voice, and person

Bullet Using pairs of conjunctions correctly

Bullet Creating parallel comparisons

In math class, you plot parallels on a graph. In grammar, you create parallel constructions. When I say parallel constructions, I’m not talking about lines that look like train tracks. I’m talking about the need for balance in speech and writing — the need to create sentences that aren’t lopsided. I’m talking about the reason Hamlet says, “To be or not to be” instead of “Being or not to be.” In this chapter, I show you how to avoid everyday errors of parallelism — what hard-hatted grammarians call faulty construction.

Test alert If you’re of test-taking age, be aware that parallelism plays a starring role in the SAT but is less important on the ACT. Why? I have no idea. Maybe one of the SAT writers was mugged by an unparallel sentence during childhood.

Seeking Balance

Can you spot ...

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