PARALLELISM AND PARALLEL PHRASES
As discussed in the previous post on Introduction to Parallelism and Parallel lists, we
saw that parallelism in grammar refers to the consistency of the same pattern of the
various items in a sentence. In this post, we will deal with parallel phrases in detail.
These are a little more complicated than parallel lists. However, they do follow the same
rule of consistency within the sentence. Parallel phrases can be broadly divided into
three categories: phrases with correlative conjunctions, coordinating conjunctions and
What are coordinating conjunctions?
These conjunctions connect two or more verbs, adjectives, phrases or independent
clauses with each other. You can learn them by the acronym F.A.N.B.O.Y.S namely,
for, and, nor, but, yet, so.
What are correlative conjunctions?
These are compound conjunctions that connect two or more words, phrases and
clauses, oftentimes independent clauses. For example, either…or, not only…but (also),
neither…nor, both…and, whether…or, just as…so, as…as, as much…as, no
What are prepositional phrases?
Prepositional phrases will follow the structure of preposition+modifier + noun subject.
These will not make sense on their own. For instance, into the woods. In the SAT/ACT,
you must either ensure that the preposition is not repeated more than once or it is used
correctly in the sentence.
Below are a few examples of incorrect sentences with parallel phrases based on
the questions asked in SAT/ACT:
1. When the weather outside is cold and getting windy, I like to be indoors. (Parallel
phrases with coordinating conjunction)
2. The rebels were neither disciplined nor did they have any overall strategy.
(Parallel phrases with correlative conjunction)
3. The suspect told the officer that he had an alibi and to leave him alone. (Parallel
phrases with a preposition.)
Let’s take the example: No one could persuade the little girl to behave nor kept her from
Step 1: Identification of the words which are joined by prepositions or conjunctions. In
the example we have: to behave nor kept her from.
Step 2: Divide each item into the parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, gerund and so
on. When we break each word down in the above example, we get subject (no one) +
helping verb (could) + verb (persuade)+ article (the) + subject (girl) + infinitive ( to
behave) + conjunction (nor) + verb (kept) + pronoun (her) + preposition (from) +
gerund (running) + preposition (from).
Step 3: Look for the inconsistencies in the construction of words before and after the
conjunction/preposition. In the given example, the inconsistency is there around the
conjunction nor. Observe the verbs to behave and kept. Are they following the
consistent rule of grammar?
Step 4: Now, correct the inconsistent item according to the appropriate grammar rules.
‘Kept’ will change into ‘to keep’. Thus, the correct answer will be: No one could
persuade the little girl to behave nor to keep her from running around.
Here are a few questions for you to practice
1. My dog not only likes to play fetch but also chase cars.
2. The cabinet was designed not only for storing linens but also protecting wool
3. Ninety percent of the politicians gives the other ten percent a bad reputation.
1. My dog not only likes to play fetch but also to chase cars./ My dog not only likes
to play fetch, but also likes to chase cars.
2. The cabinet was designed not only for storing linens but also for protecting wool
3. Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation.