Faulty Parallelism is the opposite of parallelism (more on this literary device below). Faulty parallelism is most commonly found in sentences that include lists.
Explore Faulty Parallelism
Definition of Faulty Parallelism
Faulty parallelism occurs, usually in lists, when the verb tenses or other parts of the sentence do not correspond. The listed items do not conform to the same structure. When looking for examples of faulty parallelism, it’s best to read one’s writing out loud. It’s a feature of most forms of writing that should be corrected. It can lower the standard of the entire paper or presentation.
Examples of Parallelism
In order to better understand what faulty parallelism is, it’s helpful to have a solid understanding of parallelism. This is the preferred way in which sentences are arranged. Parallel sentences use grammatically consistent structures and often, the same structure stretching over multiple lines. It can also help imbue a piece with pattern and rhythm, depending on how it’s used. It uses repetition and the same grammatical structure between lines of a short story, novel, poem, or play.
Parallel structures keep the sentence consistent. Below are a few examples of parallel sentence structures:
- I like to run, swim and hike.
- She is looking for someone who is consistent, easy-going, and dependable.
- They are not going to hire an employee who is always late, lazy, and unprofessional.
- My cat always spends the day watching birds and sleeping.
Examples of Faulty Parallelism
Below readers will find a few examples of faulty parallelism. These are contrived examples, meaning that they were created for this specific exercise. It’s important to analyze these sentences and see if the “faulty” parts stand out. If so, picking them out and altering them so that the sentence is parallel can be helpful in one’s understanding of this grammatical error.
- I like running, to go swim, and hiking.
- She is looking for someone who is consistent, easy-going, and dependable on time.
- They are not going to hire an employee who is always late, lazy, and acting unprofessionally.
- My cat always spends the day watching birds and asleep.
None of the above sentences should be used, despite the fact that they might initially seem correct. The parallel versions are listed in the previous section.
How to Fix Faulty Parallelism
There are a few ways in which one might fix an example of faulty parallelism. First, the writer might remove the section of the sentence that is ungrammatical. This is the easiest and fastest way to make a sentence parallel. But, with some practice, it is just as easy to correct the mistake and retain all the content one initially had. It’s worth it to take the time to fix these mistakes as it makes one’s writing sound far more professional.
Often, reading one’s writing out loud can make any mistakes, like faulty parallelism, evident. If it seems like there is an example in one’s writing, the easiest thing to do is change the verb tense. For example, this sentence is grammatically incorrect: “She ran, danced, and was watching T.V.” Instead, it should say “She ran, danced, and watched T.V.” Here, the word “was” is removed and the “-ing’” ending is changed to “-ed.”
Why is Faulty Parallelism Bad?
It’s interesting to consider why faulty parallelism is bad, especially considering it’s used so commonly in colloquial conversations between family members, friends, and close colleagues. The only time this ungrammatical construction really stands out is in formal writing. If one uses it in an essay, business proposal, grant, or other high stakes piece of writing, the person reviewing that work might lose confidence in the writer’s abilities. It’s important to present the most professional version of oneself possible, and faulty parallelism won’t do that. Examples are quite easy to fix, as noted above, so it’s best to try to change them whenever possible.
Why Do Writers Use Faulty Parallelism?
Unless the writer has a specific reason to use the device, examples of faulty parallelism are mistakes. In almost all instances, they should be corrected. But, it is possible to find intentional examples of this technique in dialogue. A writer might use it to reveal something about a character’s education or where they grew up.
An example of faulty parallelism is “I want to run, dance, finish my homework, and watching some T.V.” Here, the use of “watching” rather than “watch” makes the sentence an example of faulty parallelism.
Parallelism is the use of similar structures in writing. For example, “I went to the store, visited a friend, and stopped to get gas.” In poetry, parallelism involves more repetition.
The structure of a faulty parallel sentence is grammatically incorrect. It is easiest to spot in examples where activities or items are being listed.
Yes, parallelism is a literary device.
If, when reading the sentence out loud, something sounds off, or the verb tense seems wrong, it’s like an example of faulty parallelism.
Related Literary Terms
- Parallelism/Parallel Structure: also known as parallel structure, occurs when the writer uses the same structure in multiple lines.
- Paraphrasing: means to simplify it down to its most basic elements, clarifying along the way and choosing a less complicated language.
- Morpheme: the smallest meaningful part of any language. It might be a word, or it might be part of a word.
- Jargon: the use of phrases and words that are specific to a situation, trade, a selective group, or a profession.
- Imperative Sentence: a type of sentence that makes a command, gives a direction or expresses instructions of some kind.
- Formal Diction: used when the setting is sophisticated. This could be anything from a speech to a paper submitted to a journal.
- Listen: Parallelism – The secret to great writing
- Watch: Parallel Structure
- Listen: Parallelism in Grammar
- Watch: Everyday Grammar – Parallelism