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Using Parallel Verbs

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In English we can use more than one verb to describe what's happening.

This sentence shows three things Donna (the subject of the sentence) did yesterday.

Yesterday Donna watched a movie, cleaned her apartment and was making lunch.

When two or more verbs have the same subject the verbs must be parallel. Parallel verbs mean the verbs used in a sentence should all be the same tense.

Read the sentence about Donna again. Is it grammatically correct? If not, why not?

The sentence is not correct because watched and cleaned are the simple past tense, but was making is the past progressive. The verbs are not parallel.

The correct sentence should be:

Yesterday Donna watched a movie, cleaned her apartment and made lunch.

Remember: when the subject of a sentence does two or more things, the verbs use the same tense.

Here are some other examples.

They talked and laughed for hours.

I will work and (will) study all summer.

He can play piano and (can) sing opera.

Diana is walking her dog and (is) playing games on her phone at the same time.

We'll go to the beach and (will) have a swim.

If the verb has a helping verb (like will, can, is, are, etc.) use it before the first verb. It is not necessary to use it again before the second verb. We don't need to repeat the infinitive (to) either with parallel verbs.

Using what you now know about parallel verbs, decide if these sentences are correct:

  • 1) He went shopping and buys a new shirt.

  • 2) I will take my video camera and uses it.

  • 3) James can speak English and speaking Italian.

  • 4) The dog sat and waited for its owner.

  • 5) She likes to run, swim and play football.

  • 6) She spoke more of her time abroad than being a diplomat.

  • 7) She loves meeting new people, cooking and to travel.

  • 8) We should listen and communicate with others.

  • 9) He was cooking and chatting with her housemate.

  • 10) I bought some tools and have made a shelf.