Whether you're using a bullet list or a run-in list within a paragraph, it's important to use parallel grammatical structure for clarity.
WRONG (NONPARALLEL): She had several talents—to process the mail,
running the front office, and high-speed keyboarding. [The use of two differing verb forms and a gerund—an
-ing word that functions as a noun—distracts and confuses the reader.]
RIGHT (PARALLEL): She had several talents—processing the mail, running the front
keyboarding at a high speed. [All three elements are verbs that end in
This parallel-structure concept applies to all forms of writing; so whenever you encounter a list, make sure each component "plays well with others."
WRONG: A myriad of choices abound. [The A and
of shouldn't be present.]
RIGHT: Myriad choices abound.
WRONG: reoccur, reoccurring [There are no such words.]
RIGHT: recur, recurring
WRONG: more then likely [Then should refer exclusively to time, e.g., now and then]
RIGHT: more than likely [Than is a comparative word, e.g., farther
than, longer than]
WRONG: I could care less. [This means that you must care to some degree,
because it's still possible for you to care less than that.]
RIGHT: I couldn't care less. [It would be impossible for you to care any
than you do, because you really don't care at all.]
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