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Personally I feel they should be considered to be in series, as there is only one path for the current to flow. But my textbook claims they are in parallel. I'd like to hear an explanation as to why they are in parallel and not in series.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd say if both capacitors were in series, then v1 and v2 would also be polarised "in series" + - + - rather than + - - +. \$\endgroup\$
    – jippie
    Sep 13, 2015 at 18:37
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Any circuit containing just two components has them both in series and in parallel -- the voltage across them is the same, and the current through them is also the same. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave Tweed
    Sep 13, 2015 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaveTweed If I were to reduce these capacitors, I would get the same result whether I looked them as if they were in series or parallel; so it all comes together. But what if \$C_1 = 3\cdot 10^{-6} F\$, what would the reduced capacitor look like then? \$\endgroup\$
    – B. Lee
    Sep 14, 2015 at 3:49

1 Answer 1


When the switch is closed they are forced to share the same voltage - this is a characteristic of being in parallel.

When the switch is open they can have different voltages,and the voltage across the switch is the sum of the two capacitor voltages - this is characteristic of being in series.


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