QUIZ: Read the following excerpt from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:
"that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
The underlined portions exhibit which of the following:
If you chose 2) PARALLELISM, congratulations! You are correct! Each of those underlined phrases are three words in length, end with "the people," and begin with prepositions. You can't get much more parallel than that! And that's just one example of PARALLELISM that Lincoln used in the world's most famous persuasive speech. I reckon that's a large part of the reason the Gettsyburg Address is still popular today.
You should aim to achieve PARALLELISM when your sentence contains a series of items - like we discussed with AND in Spoonful #11. The goal is to make sure all items in a series are listed in the same form. With AND's permission, let's go ahead and explain why her sentences are great PARALLELISM examples.
1) Mary's favorite colors are purple, yellow, and blue.
WHY? Because all the items in this series are NOUNS.
2) Jeremy enjoyed skiing, skating, and swimming.
WHY? Because all the items in this series are GERUNDS (these are VERBS that masquerade as NOUNS. The "ing" in each one is a hint.)
SAT TIP: In the SAT Writing Section, one of the common errors is a series that mixes GERUNDS with VERBS in the INFINITIVE (TO) form.
Here's an example: Jeremy enjoyed skiing, skating, and to swim.
Don't be fooled by this violation of the PARALLELISM rule!
3) I looked under the bed, inside my closet, and on my dresser, but my book is still missing.
WHY? Because all the items in this series are PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES with three words each. Those are phrases that start with PREPOSITIONS (under, inside, on.)
4) Honor Society requirements include earning stellar grades, displaying good conduct, and performing community service.
WHY? Because all the items in this series are GERUND PHRASES with three words each. Those are phrases that start with GERUNDS(earning, displaying, performing.)
Repetition in picture books is another type of PARALLELISM, and one that I'm especially fond of. And trust me on this last point: the SAT loves PARALLELISM!
I hope you enjoyed this spoonful. In #13, I will return to comma rules.
Laura Fineberg Cooper