Faulty Parallelism in Coordinate Elements: Short, Simple Version
~He liked to play basketball and riding horses.
~He liked playing basketball and riding horses.
~He liked to play basketball and to ride horses
~He liked to play basketball and ride horses.
~She spent the day visiting all the tourist shops and watched the children on the beach, and then she went back to the hotel for a late lunch.
~She spent the day visiting all the tourist shops and watching the children on the beach, and then she went back to the hotel for a late lunch.
~She spent the day visiting all the tourist shops, then she watched the children on the beach, and then she went back to the hotel for a late lunch.
~She spent the day visiting all the tourist shops, she watched the children on the beach, and then she went back to the hotel for a late lunch.
Sometimes a sentence that is not technically incorrect could still be improved by making coordinate elements more precisely parallel. In the following example, the coordinate elements are both adverbial, so in a sense they are parallel, but one is a simple adverb, while the other is an adverbial prepositional phrase. The sentence is not exactly wrong, but it is clumsy, aand the strict parallelism of the second version is tighter and more effective.
~I outlined the letters slowly and with care.
~I outlined the letters slowly and carefully.
Of course, these examples of faulty parallelism are fairly simple, especially compared to the sort of garbled syntax I encounter in student writing and in the work of other careless writers. Let me show you what faulty parallelism looks like in real-world examples, drawn from the essays of college students:
1. Countless newspaper articles and news footage was about car wrecks, injuries, and sometimes deaths.
2. By nature men have been more aggressive, dominant, and more likely to show off those traits.
3. All of this added stress creates unhappy drivers who will not hesitate to yell at anyone else driving too slow or carelessly or just gets in their way.
4. Not only will it hurt them nutritionwise, but they can damage themselves into not having children, osteoporosis, they can weaken their immune system and even kill themselves.
5. I opened my eyes and saw about six IVs in my arms, a cast on my shoulder, and a headache like never before.
6. Students may have a big night of drinking, then not go to class the next day and get behind in classes.
7. However, three years later I can understand why they instituted this bill and its importance.
8. For some people, the representation can be a picture, cologne, or a special spot.
9. A few suggestions are more screening of luggage, having a travel ID card, which would take away from passengers getting their bags checked, and the installation of devices to harden cockpit doors and other security devices used to protect the plane.
10. I had three class periods in the yearbook room every day--study hall, the yearbook hour, and a teacher's aid.
11. It is here that the mind matures, becomes free and capable of individual thinking.
12. Teachers on their own time prepare lesson plans, work with colleagues, students, students' families, and also check homework, grade papers, and keep up with the latest in math, history, or science.
13. He also realizes he could be hit by a car or someone swerving to miss him.
14. All three poems tie together the different aspects of war, by remembering the dead, going through basic training, and by looking at war through an older man's eyes.
15. I shop for my own food, appliances, and the way I want to use my money is my choice.
The best way to recognize what is wrong with such sentences and what needs to be done to fix them is to read them aloud. Many, perhaps even most, such errors could be avoided altogether if the writer would simply take the time to actually read what he writes.
This is not by any means all I have to say about faulty parallelism, but it is probably enough to make most people aware of the problem and of the nonsense they will produce if they do not follow the rule that grammatically equal (coordinate) elements must be couched in parallel grammatical structures.
Soon I will post a more technical explanation of the rule and of the nature of the errors in these examples. But probably most of you won't even need to read that article once you've looked over the messed up examples in this one. With just a little bit of care (and a willingness to read your sentences aloud to yourself) you can avoid writing such clumsy nonsense.
You do want to avoid writing clumsy nonsense, don't you?