As the preparation for CAT 2008 heats up and awakening for CAT 2009 spreads slowly among the uninitiated, totalgadha.com still finds itself laying the bricks and mortar for a good foundation. As the mock CAT- hungry junta becomes more frenzied every Sunday, we are busy chipping away the corners of members of the ‘Gadha Family’ in order to shape them up for the D-day on 16th November, 2008. Our latest offering is the identification of error that mostly goes unnoticed unless one is looking for it with a sharp eye. Ladies and gentlemen, let me present you an error that all of us are guilty of committing at some time or the other and that is still elusive to many of us- Parallelism.
What does Parallelism mean?
Parallelism means that all items or ideas in a sentence should be in the same format.
Eg: “Veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered).”- Julius Caesar
In mythology, Scorpio (or Scorpius) was the scorpion that attacked and killed the hunter Orion.
Rule 1. Any lists of ideas, places, activities, or descriptions that have the same level of importance – whether they are words, phrases, or clauses - must be written in the same grammatical form.
Places- the shop, the street and the house.
Ideas- learn how to sing, how to dance and how to cook.
Activities- He ate, sang and slept.
Rule 2. There are different types of parallel structures:-
Nouns: Ram has pens, pencils and rubbers.
Verbs: Sanjeev sleeps during the day and works during the night.
Adjectives: TG has a great genius; inventive, sagacious and original.
Adverbs: This is out and away the best work on astrology.
Modified Nouns: The difference between the products of a well-disciplined and an uncultivated understanding is often and admirably exhibited by our great dramatist.
Infinitives: Lemony went to work, to a restaurant, and to the movies.
Participial Phrases: The enemy, beaten at every point, fled from the field.
Adverbial Phrases: I have often noticed that you howl in anger after you cower in fear.
Rule 3. Multiple Pronouns:- Pronouns such as that, which, those, who etc represent the parallel structure. If the pronoun is used in the sentence, the parallelism requires that the consistency be maintained with other pronouns as well.
Correct: I prefer to dance with those who know salsa than those who don’t.
Incorrect: I prefer to dance with those who know salsa than those that don’t.
Correct: If one commits a mistake, one should take the responsibility for it.
Incorrect: If one commits a mistake, they should take the responsibility for it.
Rule 4. Idiomatic Usage:-
Some idiomatic structures require parallelism. Following is the list:-
· Neither A nor B
· Either A or B
· Both A and B
· A instead of B
· The same to A as to B
· As A to B
· Mistake A for B
· To think of A as B
· Range from A to B
· More A than B
· Not A but rather B
· The same to A as to B
· A regarded as B
· Believe A to be B
· Prefer A to B
· To think of A as B
· The more A the greater B
Correct: Neither Ram nor Shyam went to the party.
Incorrect: Neither Ram or Shyam went to the party
Correct: I would like to have either milk or tea.
Incorrect: I would like to have either milk and tea.
Correct: I prefer eating feast to cornetto.
Incorrect: I prefer eating feast than cornetto.
Rule 5. Linking Verbs:-
A linking verb is a state of being or condition for the subject and not action. It links the subject to an equivalent verb in the sentence. When you come across a sentence with linking verb, make sure that the two sides of the sentence are parallel.
The linking verbs are of the form of the verb to be-: is, am, was, were, are, been.
Correct: Google’s vision is to create the biggest search engine in the world.
The two sides of the linking verb ‘is’ are Google’s vision and to create. Google’s vision is to create, both sides of the verb ’is’ are parallel.
Incorrect: Google’s vision is creating the biggest search engine in the world.
Here, the two sides of the verb ’is’ are Google’s vision and creating. The vision cannot create anything so, the sentence is not parallel.
Other linking verbs are:- feel, appear, grow, get, become, sit, look, remain, smell, taste, turn, prove, become, sound, seem.
Correct: Rama doesn’t like anything that tastes spicy.
The two sides of the linking verb ‘taste’ are anything that and spicy. Anything that tastes spicy, both sides of the word’ tastes’ are parallel.
Incorrect: Rama, tasting spicy, doesn’t like anything.
Rama cannot taste spicy, so the two sides of the verb are not parallel.
Rule 6. Actual Parallelism Vs Superficial Parallelism
The sentences should be logically parallel than you assuming that they should be structurally parallel. The verb phrases, adverbial phrases, adjective phrases, noun phrases etc. should be parallel.
Incorrect: Three reasons why steel companies keep losing money are that their plants are inefficient, high labour costs and that their foreign costs are increasing.
Correct: Three reasons why steel companies keep losing money are inefficient plants, high labour costs and increasing foreign competition.
In the above incorrect sentence, the three phrases are not parallel.
Incorrect: An Arian seeks acceptance, even while he is heedlessly and is deliberate in courting rejection.
Correct: An Arian seeks acceptance, even while he heedlessly and deliberately courts rejection.
In the above incorrect sentence, seeks is not parallel with the second half of the sentence. Also, adverb ‘heedlessly’ should have a parallel ‘adverb’ in latter part of the sentence.