If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:5:05

Video transcript

hello grammarians hello Rosie hello Paige hi David hi David today all three of us are going to be talking about parallel structure and I've always had trouble spelling the word parallel but Rosie pointed out something just before we started recording that is blowing my mind Rosie how do you spell parallel well it's fun because the two L's that are together in the word are together in the middle of the word look at that they're parallel that's all it's fine that's just that's amazing parallel structure is less a consideration of grammar it's really more about style right parallel structure basically means that when you're making some kind of list in a sentence if you're using a series of verbs if you're using a series of nouns any series of words they should all roughly line up with one another so let's say I was an outdoorsman and I said I love fishing skiing and rock climbing each one of these is a gerund right it is the in form of verb we're using it as a noun and this this sentence exhibits parallel structure but you know sometimes you'll see a sentence that'll mess that up right so let's say you were editing someone's personal statement and athletes personal statement and they said I love fishing skiing and to climb rocks now there's nothing grammatically incorrect about this sentence it makes sense it is legal in the way that it is composed but stylistically it just doesn't it doesn't harmonize so this is not parallel but this is some other things to look out for to make sure you're making a sentence parallel is if everything is active voice or passive voice infinitive verbs versus other forms of verbs like to eat versus eating and a string of individual modifiers like adjectives versus larger phrases let's put that into action okay so active versus passive voice so an example if we're not going to have parallel structure would be something like the cake was baked frosted and I put sprinkles on it so so what we're saying here is that here is a passive thing that happened to the cake the cake was baked here's another passive thing that happens to the cake the cake was frosted by someone else and then that someone else comes in and Paige says I put sprinkles on it but if we're going to assume that sprinkled is now a verb that means to be covered in sugary cake decorations we would say the cake was baked frosted and sprinkled or decorated with friends friends but I kind of like sprinkle so that's active versus passive we've already covered infinitive versus other verb forms so that's you know skiing well it's that's to ski versus skiing so this is what we call an infinitive form and this is another form that's called the gerund so make sure to keep those separate in your lists and then lists of individual terms versus longer phrases so if you are describing something with a string of adjectives be careful when you follow it up with a longer phrase for example sharks are large damp and dangerous those are all just short individual modifiers as opposed to sharks are large damp and not to be trifled with and look again we're not saying this is not a grammatical sentence it is and sometimes you may want to break parallel structure in order to have some sort of particular effect if you if you are trying to draw attention to this last element then yeah you might want to break parallel structure but we want to make you aware that there is just a sort of general tendency towards making your sentences harmonious in this way baked frosted and sprinkled large damp and dangerous you know and and then when you want to have access to that ability to really raw attention to that last element then you can say ah you know what I'm gonna make this perpendicular is that is perpendicularity is that a thing that I just made up right now yes are we going with it maybe yeah do we like it yeah not parallel it's not parallel not parallel well I suppose dentures about covers parallel structure so for one last time with Paige you can learn anything Dave it out Rosie out Paige out you've been a wonderful intern Paige we'll miss you thank you I'll miss you too