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How to Identify Errors in Comparison, Correlation & Parallelism

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  • 0:10 Structure of Sentences
  • 0:58 Comparison
  • 3:38 Parallelism
  • 5:14 Correlation
  • 6:35 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

Ever write something that sounded just a bit off? You might be making simple errors with comparison, correlation and parallelism. Watch this video lesson to learn about these concepts and how to avoid misusing them.

Structure of Sentences

The purpose of sentences is to help make communication effective. Imagine if someone said this sentence to you: 'Milk to later I some going the am get store to.' Does that make any sense? Of course not! That is because that sentence has no sentence structure, or the rules and guidelines for building sentences.

Put those words in the proper place and you get, 'I am going to the store to get some milk later,' which is a clear and effective message. Sentence structure is very important in order for our speech and our writing to be useful. There are numerous concepts that factor into sentence structure. In this lesson, we'll look at only three of those concepts and how to avoid any errors.

Comparison

The first area that can affect sentence structure is comparison. In the broad sense of the word, comparison in grammar refers to showing similarities or differences in degree between two objects or ideas. Structurally, when making comparisons, you must follow a specific format in order for your message to be clear.

The two main forms of comparison are comparative and superlative. You need to know that comparative deals with comparing only two objects or ideas, whereas superlative compares three or more. Structurally, when using the comparative, you need to attach the suffix 'er,' and for superlative, attach the suffix 'est.' For example, let's say you wanted to compare the height of two trees. Since you have only two objects, then you use the comparative form.

'The oak tree is taller than the ash tree.' The adjective, 'tall,' has the suffix 'er' to show that the two objects are being compared to each other. Now think of how you would state the idea that the oak tree has the most height compared to all the other trees in that forest. 'The oak tree is the tallest tree in the forest.' The superlative suffix is now added to the adjective 'tall' to indicate multiple trees are being compared.

One thing to note when discussing comparative and superlative is what to do when adjectives have more than two syllables. Does it sound correct to say, 'This dress is beautifuller than your dress'? Of course not! This is because the adjective 'beautiful' has more than two syllables. In this case, you add the word 'more' before the adjective. 'This dress is more beautiful than your dress.' For the superlative, you add the word 'most.' 'This dress is the most beautiful.' However, be sure to remember to never use the words 'more' and 'most' in addition to the suffixes 'er' or 'est.' That would be superfluous and should be avoided at all times.

Overall, looking closely at how you are comparing objects or ideas is very important to your communications. Imagine if you were reading a textbook that used phrases like 'most beautifullest,' or 'The oak tree is tallest than the ash tree.' You would immediately begin to doubt the content of the entire text just because it made these simple comparative mistakes. In your own work, check to see how many objects or ideas you are comparing and how many syllables are in the comparing words. This will help you avoid making any errors when using comparison.

Parallelism

Once you have checked your writing for comparison errors, you need to be sure to pay attention to parallelism. Within grammar, parallelism means that all parts or words in a sentence have the same form.

Let's look at an example to clarify how this works in sentence structure. Look at this sentence: 'Tomorrow I will go skiing, snowboarding and hike.' Did you notice something was a bit off? Look at the structure of the listed activities: 'skiing,' 'snowboarding,' hike.' Which one doesn't fit? 'Skiing' and 'snowboarding' are parallel because they both have the same 'ing' ending. 'Hike' is in a different form and is not parallel. To make it parallel, 'hike' must be changed to 'hiking.'

Let's look at one more example to show parallelism. 'Today I went to the store, drive my mother to the doctor's, and ran two miles.' Did you see which word was not parallel? What tense are the verbs? 'Went' and 'ran' are in the past tense, but 'drive' is in present. This is not parallel. 'Drive' needs to be changed to 'drove' in order to make this sentence parallel.

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