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My students are having a hard time with parallelism. Help?

This response comes from experienced LTW teacher and CiRCE Apprentice, Cathy Rape. Thanks Cathy!

Parallelism can be a tough lesson!  Sometimes I’ll have the kids write their proofs first as they think they sound best, then identify the grammar sequence for each and try to fit all three proofs into all three grammar patterns.  When they can’t make it exact, I ask them to get as close as they can.  Once that’s done, they choose the one that works best or try to alter one of the patterns to make it work for all three.  It is like a wrestling match and can be frustrating.  Most of the constructions will be awkward.  BUT it has been profitable having them go through the process. 

So with your proofs, it would look something like this:

Grammar form A = (he) (was) (a lot) (older) (than) (Jane) - pronoun, verb, adverb, adjective, conjunction, noun
Grammar form B = (he)(already) (had) (a) (wife) - pronoun, adverb, verb, adjective, noun
Grammar form C = (he) (considered) (himself) (unattached)  - pronoun, verb, pronoun, adjective

Grammar form A: pronoun, verb, adverb, adjective, conjunction, noun

  1. he was a lot older than Jane
  2. he was quite married (no conj + noun)
  3. he was morally unattached


Grammar form B: pronoun, adverb, verb, adjective, noun

  1. he much exceeded her age
  2. he already had a wife
  3. he earnestly believed (himself) a bachelor


Grammar form C: pronoun, verb, pronoun, adjective

  1. he was himself older
  2. he got himself married
  3. he considered himself unattached


Most of the time, simple is better!  We usually end up dropping adjectives and adverbs.  Here I might suggest the student use form A and drop those modifiers. So pronoun, verb, adverb, adjective, conjunction, noun
He was older
He was married
He felt single

They can always flesh out their full meaning in the actual paragraphs, so if they don’t get as much detail into their proof statements they will have an opportunity to elaborate in the body of the paper.

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    Heather Shirley

    Very helpful, Cathy. I have shared this a few times already. Thanks!

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