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How to Use Parallel Construction Correctly

Are you guilty of creating a false series?

By
Rob Reinalda, read by Mignon Fogarty
July 24, 2009
Episode #180

Page 1 of 2

 

false seriesThis week we have a new guest writer, Rob Reinalda, who is going to help us look at something called a false series. You may ask, “What the heck is that?” We’ll find out in a moment.

A Parallel Construction Problem: the False Series

A common problem in writing today is the false series. It happens when a writer combines three or more seemingly related elements in a series, but the syntax is wrong. When you get the sentence right, you're said to be using parallel construction.

Huh?

OK, here’s an example: “Today I will tidy up the bedroom, the living room, and wallpaper the cat.”

Sounds like a series of three things to accomplish. And yet, there’s something off. The construction doesn’t quite work. It’s as simple to detect as Sesame Street’s “One of these things is not like the other.”

Let’s break it down to see how and why. 

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