Parallelism & consistency

Parallelism is an important concept in writing. Ideas that are written in a parallel form are easier to read and understand. Ideas that are not written in parallel look strange, and are certainly inappropriate in academic writing.

Look at these examples:

  • He would rather swim than to jog for exercise.
  • A lot of students attend Green Oak College because of its low tuition charges, small class size, and the lecturers all have professional qualifications.

The writer has used the form swim followed by the form to jog and this is grammatically incorrect and also sounds odd for the reader.

In the second example, the final point does not reflect the form of the other two points. It should read: A lot of students attend Green Oak College because of its low tuition charges, small class size and professionally qualified lecturers.

Look at the examples below. Do any changes need to be made in these examples? When you have made any changes you want to make, look at the end of this section and check the answers.

  • Simon is one of the most intelligent people that I know with a quick mind and he has a good memory as well.
  • Tanzania is one of the most beautiful countries in the world with high mountains and it has large game parks too.
  • Writing essays is not easy because it takes time and care and careful thinking.
  • She enjoys scuba diving, sailing, wind surfing and she likes tennis sometimes.
  • In some universities the facilities are excellent with good libraries and the sports facilities are good.
  • The college has an excellent lending library and the reference library is good, so students have all the resources they need.
  • Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK and it's got a larger area of public parkland than any other city.
  • Their team was second in the relay race but overall they came in at number three in the competition.

Notes:

Here are the above sentences after correction:

  • Simon is one of the most intelligent people that I know with a quick mind and a good memory as well.
  • Tanzania is one of the most beautiful countries in the world with high mountains and large game parks.
  • Writing essays is not easy because it takes time, care and thought.
  • She enjoys scuba diving, sailing, wind surfing and tennis.
  • In some universities the facilities are excellent with good libraries and sports facilities.
  • The college has an excellent lending library and an excellent reference library, so students have all the resources they need.
  • Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK with the largest area of public parkland.
  • Their team was second in the relay race but third in the competition overall.

Here is part of an advertisement placed in a newspaper. Read it, and decide how the details of the post can be changed so that the advertisement is more professional in terms of style and clarity.

WANTED a new Chief Executive!

Our college is looking for a new Chief Executive to lead it through the first ten years of the new century. The college has a wide range of exciting courses and we have 1,600 students from over 50 different countries.

Details of the post:

  • The Chief Executive will advise the College Board on strategy, policy formulation and implementation.
  • To consult, advise, persuade and encourage a complex organisation of independent and publicly financed colleges to work as a cohesive market force.
  • A high profile academic role relevant to the changing needs of the national and international educational markets.

The right candidate will have ...

Notes on the Task:

The sentences now in italics all begin in a different manner. The effect of this is that we have:

The Chief Executive will advise ... (a noun phrase + verb)

To consult, advise, persuade ... (verb infinitives)

A high profile academic role relevant ... (a complex clause)

The style is awkward and unprofessional and this makes the advertisement difficult to read. It would be improved if all three requirements in the advertisement followed the same pattern. For example, with the use of initial verbs:

The Chief Executive will:

  • advise the College Board on strategy, policy formulation and implementation.
  • consult, advise, persuade and encourage a complex organisation of independent and publicly financed colleges to work as a cohesive market force.
  • hold a high profile academic role relevant to the changing needs of the national and international educational markets

 

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