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 infinitive phrases. 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.