On Saturday I bought a new Samsung Propel mobile phone. As someone over 40, I love reading the manual to learn about the phone. My behavior contrasts with that of my 14-year-old daughter, who got a new phone on Saturday too. She just uses her new LG Vu phone. She doesn't need a manual.
The Propel's manual is written and indexed well. It does have one error in it, though. See if you can find the error in this sentence:
"Your phone is lightweight, easy to use and offers many significant features."
The error isn't the absence of a comma before the word and. That comma is optional.
The problem is the lack of parallel structure. With parallel structure, or parallelism, the items in a series are all structured the same--all in the same form. These are not the same:
Lightweight and easy to use are both adjectives, but offers is a verb.
Here's a corrected version:
"Your phone is lightweight, easy to use, and full of features."
The corrected series has three adjectives:
Sentences that aren't parallel throw readers off track, as does other fuzzy writing. "How to Defuzz Your Writing" is the subject of the latest issue of Better Writing at Work, my free monthly e-newsletter. To receive practical business writing tips each month, subscribe here.
In any case, my new phone is lightweight, easy to use, and full of features. Soon I will actually be using the features rather than reading and writing about the manual!