08 Dec

parallelism

Questions on sentence error spotting & sentence improvement are an essential part of English language section of all aptitude based competitive exams. While studying English grammar, most students end up neglecting parallelism and face difficulty during the exam. However, expert faculty members from the Centre for Best SSC CGL Coaching in Delhi teach this topic in their classroom sessions. The fundamentals taught in these sessions have been discussed below in such a way as to facilitate step-by-step understanding of parallelism so that you don’t miss out on some important marks.

What is Parallelism?

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Parallelism is a technique used to produce grammatical uniformity among the ideas, thoughts & expressions discussed in a sentence. To apply the concept of parallelism to various elements in a sentence, you first need to figure out as to when i.e. under what conditions does parallelism work.

Whenever a sentence consists of two or more ideas, concepts, expressions, thoughts etc. that are logically equal, you should make them parallel / similar by giving these elements the same grammatical structure.

Grammatically speaking, words can be parallel or equal to words, independent clauses to independent clauses, phrases to phrases and subordinate clauses to subordinate clauses. However, ‘applying one’s own logic’ always remains a key aspect while using parallelism in a sentence.

How to Apply Parallelism?

  1. Co-ordinate Conjunctions (and, but, or)

This can be considered the widest area where you can use parallelism. Over here, the basic idea is that the parts of a sentence joined by the use of connectors such as ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘or’ etc. must have similar grammatical construction.

Example:

  • Incorrect structure – Your organization and what its potential is are of great profit to me.
  • Correct structure – Your organization and its potential are of great profit to me.

In the above cited example, the sentence talks about two entities (the organization & its potential) which are highly profitable to someone. So, in this sentence, the conjunction ‘and’ will take both the entities, present before and after it, in the same part of speech. Both ‘organization’ and ‘potential’ are nouns which have been joined together using ‘and’ making the sentence grammatically sound and structurally correct.

Example:

  • Incorrect structure – Henry studied hard after preparing and putting his best efforts, but failed.
  • Correct structure – After preparing and putting his best efforts, Henry studied hard, but failed.

In the above example, usage of the conjunction ‘but’ implies that an effort was put to achieve something, but unfortunately that effort did not result in success (Henry’s failure). Now, let’s look at the sentence and its elements logically and examine the grammatical structure. ‘But’ is a connector; thus the elements joined by it should be similar: ‘studied’ and ‘failed’.

  1. Co-relative Conjunctions

Co-relative conjunctions are pairs of words that join two parts of a sentence. The two parts thus joined must be similar in structure. Examples of these conjunctions are: either-or, neither-nor, not only-but also, both-and, scarcely-when, hardly-when, no sooner-than, between-and, although-yet etc.

Example:

  • Incorrect structure – Olympic Games winner PV Sindhu not only had ample strength but also strong determination, which made her a winner.
  • Correct structure – Olympic Games winner PV Sindhu had not only ample strength but also strong determination, which made her a winner.

In the above example, observe the use of parallelism upon the elements – ‘ample strength’ & ‘strong determination’. Adjective noun structure (ample strength) comes after ‘not only’. In a similar way, another adjective noun structure (strong determination) is placed after ‘but also’. The error in the incorrect sentence is that it mentions ‘had’ after ‘not only’, thereby distorting the sentence structure.

Now, let us further understand how to make such structures grammatically similar.

Example:

Now, one by one, let’s examine the elements that appear after ‘not only’ and ‘but also’. ‘Attend’ which is a verb comes after not only and ‘work’, which is also a verb, comes after but also.

  1. Maintain consistency while using ‘Gerunds’ (the –ing form of a verb.)

Example:

  • Incorrect structure – Raja likes diving more than to swim.
  • Correct structure – Raja likes diving more than swimming.

In the incorrect sentence, the fault lies in comparing a gerund with an infinitive. You can notice that in the correct sentence, there is consistency. ‘Diving’, which is a gerund, has been compared with another gerund ‘swimming’. Thus, the sentence has been made coherent and correct.

  1. Maintain consistency while using ‘Infinitives’ (to + V1)

Examples:

  • Incorrect structure – Rachel loves to read and writing.
  • Correct structure – Rachel loves to read and to write.

Here, you can notice that in the correct sentence, the infinitive forms ‘to read’ and ‘to write’ have been paired together. Thus, there is grammatical consistency.  However, the problem with the incorrect sentence is that an infinitive (to read) has been paired with a gerund (writing).

  1. Maintain consistency while making comparisons

In case of comparisons, whenever possible, the things being compared must be written in parallel structures.

Example:

Incorrect structure – His income is smaller than my sister.

Correct structure – His income is smaller than my sister’s.

In the above example, the correct sentence strikes the right comparison. It correctly compares the incomes of two people.

  1. Maintain consistency while depicting the same features, qualities and characteristics.

Example:

  • Incorrect structure – The people in that particular group reflected qualities of togetherness, friendliness and being honest.
  • Correct structure – The people in that particular group reflected qualities of togetherness, friendliness and honesty.

You can clearly see the difference between the two sentences, especially related to the abstract nouns present in them: togetherness, friendliness & honesty. Here, in the incorrect sentence, ‘being honest’ is not in the same part of speech as the other abstract nouns. Hence, ‘being honest’ has to be converted into the same part of speech (honesty) for the sentence to become coherent.

Example:

  • Incorrect structure – John is cute, generous and knows a lot of jokes.
  • Correct structure – John is cute, generous and funny.

While discussing the qualities of John, the words used should be similar. ‘Cute’ and ‘generous’ are adjectives. So, instead of writing ‘knows a lot of jokes’, we should use an adjective for it. In the correct sentence, the adjective used for the same is: ‘funny’.

Summary:

This article has been written in order to simplify the concepts of parallelism to competitive exam aspirants. We hope that after going through this article, your knowledge and understanding of parallelism has improved significantly. Still, in case of any queries or doubts do write to us at vidyagurudelhi@gmail.com. Your doubts and queries will be clarified soon by experts providing quality IBPS PO Coaching in Delhi.

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