Friday, May 17, 2013

Parallel construction does wonders for your writing

Here's a quick cleanup for your writing: parallel construction. Also known as parallelism, it refers to grouping similar ideas with similar phrases or clauses that have the same grammatical structure.

Parallelism improves readability by making sentences easier to process. The likeness of form enables the reader to recognize more readily the likeness of content and function. Parallelism also adds power and elegance to language. Think of the Beatitudes and the Gettysburg address. It's also a good way to reduce the number of words.

Let's look first at parallelism in a sentence.
Faulty Parallelism: Formerly, science was taught by the textbook method, while now the laboratory method is employed. 
Corrected Version: Formerly, science was taught by the textbook method; now it is taught by the laboratory method.
By this principle, an article or a preposition applying to all the members of a series must either be used only before the first term or else be repeated before each term.
Faulty Parallelism: The French, the Italians, Spanish, and Portuguese 
Corrected Version: The French, the Italians, the Spanish, and the Portuguese
Parallelism is also important in lists. If you're going to force a PowerPoint slide on people, at least make the bullet points parallel.
This article will discuss:
  • How to deal with corporate politics.
  • Coping with stressful situations.
  • What the role of the manager should be in the community.
This article will discuss:
  • Ways to deal with corporate politics.
  • Techniques of coping with stressful situations.
  • The role of the manager in the community.
This article will tell managers how to:
  • Deal with corporate politics.
  • Cope with stressful situations.
  • Function in the community.
I actually get paid real money by smart people to fix their non-parallel sentences and lists.

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