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As of this writing, Wikipedia's article about parallelism in grammar includes these examples:


Lacking parallelism:

The dog ran across the yard, jumped over the fence, and sprinted away.

Parallel:

He likes to play baseball and to run.


But they both have the same issue: no object in "to run" and "sprinted away", respectively. Whatever the first example is lacking, the second example is lacking just as much, but they are classified differently.

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    The Wikipedia page itself address this very issue: "The final phrase of the [dog] example does not include a definite location, such as "across the yard" or "over the fence"; rewriting to add one completes the sentence's parallelism." It's incomplete parallelism, not unparallel. Nov 17, 2023 at 20:37
  • @NuclearHoagie In math, things are either parallel or they are not parallel, in which case they are unparallel. "Unparallel" does not imply "orthogonal". I used "unparallel" to mean "lacking parallelism", but I can update the question in order to stick with Wikipedia's terminology.
    – MWB
    Nov 17, 2023 at 20:47
  • @MWB Grammar isn't math, and the analogy is not perfect.
    – Barmar
    Nov 17, 2023 at 23:59
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    @MWB Yes, but in grammar, parallel is not black and white like it is in geometry. As the other comment says, there are variations like "incomplete parallelism". In your example, there's parallelism in the verbs, but not indirect objects.
    – Barmar
    Nov 18, 2023 at 0:07
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    @Nuclear Hoagie Excellently put. I find 'The dog ran across the yard, jumped over the fence, and sprinted away.' perfectly acceptable, and I think 'lacking parallelism' is incorrect here. 'Lacking perfect parallelism', maybe. Nov 18, 2023 at 12:30

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To summarise the comments above (and applying parallelism to the first comment):

  • The Wikipedia page itself address this very issue: "The final phrase of the [dog] example does not include a definite location, such as "across the yard" or "over the fence"; rewriting to add one completes the sentence's parallelism." It's incomplete parallelism, not non-parallelism.                                                                                                                         [Nuclear Hoagie]

  • [I]n grammar, parallel is not black and white like it is in geometry. As the other comment says, there are variations like "incomplete parallelism". In your example, there's parallelism in the verbs, but not indirect objects.                                                                                                                           [Barmar]

  • BUT Grammarly defines parallelism as "two or more phrases or clauses in a sentence that have the same grammatical structure." Everywhere else I look, I see a similar definition. There are no degrees of parallelism, or relative parallelism with respect to some aspect.                                                                                                                           [MWB]

  • REBUT But as I pointed out, "grammatical structure" isn't precisely defined, because it depends on how finely grained you're specifying the structure.                                                                                                                            [Barmar]

  • There are definitely degrees of parallelism.

                She likes to throw frisbees and jump rope                                is more parallel than

                She likes to throw frisbees and jump on the trampoline,      which is more parallel than

                She likes throwing frisbees and to take long walks through the woods.       

                                                                                                                                    [Peter Shor]

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  • Parallelism has also to be seen in conjunction with zeugma: 'He held his breath and the catch' is unacceptable in serious writing. There are purely semantic constraints too: 'He continues to snore and to read' is a juxtaposition needing unusual context to stop it being ridiculous. Nov 18, 2023 at 12:58

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