A. Here’s the problem:
Sometimes you don’t apply what you’ve been taught about parallel structure in your sentences. You’re trying to explain a complex idea and occasionally get tangled up in your own words, forgetting to make the parts of your sentence connect to each other smoothly. As a result, your writing is harder to read, your ideas harder to follow, and your sentences lose their rhythm and their clear, natural voice.
B. What to do:
Read your sentences aloud during revision. Your ear is one of your best revision tools, but not enough of you think about how your sentences sound as well as what they say. Proper parallel structure is one way to make your sentences sound better. Since I read every essay trying to hear the sentences in my head as I read, good-sounding sentences make a stronger impression. Example: “Archer recognizes both the validity and the vacuity of the doomed elite to which he belongs, and can neither fully reconcile himself to the old values nor act decisively according to alternative ones.”
C. Example: This confusion of the heart started back when Lizzy first saw Darcy at a ball to the moment they agreed to be wed in Longbourne gardens.
Corrected Version: This confusion of the heart began when Lizzy first saw Darcy at a ball and ended the moment they agreed to be wed in Longbourne gardens.
D. Now you try—write corrected versions of the following sentences.
1. Mr. Darcy was told what most other people thought of him, completely destroying everything that he considered to be proper and a compliment.
2. Not only does Mr. Darcy show his pride to Elizabeth, but also Lady Catherine, Darcy’s aunt, by bragging and threatening Elizabeth.
E. For more information or additional practice, check the following sources:
Strunk & White, pp. 26-28; also http://www.bartleby.com/141/