The Grammar GuideParallelismGerund/Infinitive Parallelism

Gerund/Infinitive Parallelism

Gerund/Infinitive Parallelism

In English, it's important to use parallelism in your sentences. Mixing verb forms, like a gerund and an infinitive, in the same clause reads unnaturally to native speakers. Parallelism provides a balance to your clauses.

Incorrect: He likes playing video games and to draw.

Correct: He likes playing video games and drawing.

Correct: He likes to play video games and to draw.



Parallelism, or parallel structure, is a way of providing balance to sentences or clauses by using a similar grammatical structure. Parallelism often appears with verb forms. Mixing verb forms sounds unnatural to native English speakers and affects the readability of a sentence. A common parallelism mistake is mixing gerunds with infinitives.

A gerund is a verb that functions like both a noun and a verb. In English, gerunds end in -ing. Here are some examples of gerunds in sentences.

  • I like playing board games.
  • Reading the news is important.

In the first sentence, playing board games functions as an object, but playing is also a verb. In the second sentence, reading the news functions as the subject and a verb.

An infinitive is the most basic form of a verb. In English, a full infinitive includes the word to. Here are some examples of infinitives:

  • to run
  • to go
  • to speak

To ensure parallelism, make sure you are not mixing gerunds and infinitives. The sentences or clauses with the mixed verb forms will sound unnatural and unbalanced.

Incorrect: He likes playing basketball and to watch television.

Correct: He likes playing basketball and watching television.

Correct: He likes to play basketball and watch television.

Incorrect: She likes reading, playing board games, and to sing.

Correct: She likes reading, playing board games, and singing.

Correct: She likes to read, to play board games, and to sing.

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