Parallelism: What Is Parallel Structure? Parallel Structure Examples

Parallel structure is a valuable technique for improving your writing. It is an easy tool to learn and well worth the effort! Using this stylistic device will give your writing a better flow, produce a smoother and more sophisticated style, and make it easier for readers to comprehend. Just a little teaser: the previous sentence was written using parallel construction.

Parallel Structure

What Is Parallel Structure?

It is a grammatical device that uses a consistent (parallel) structure of two or more clauses, phrases, or words that have similar form and length. Parallel construction is used as a stylistic device that improves readability and fluency in writing. The word patterns assist readers in forming a relationship between the words or phrases. The writing also sounds more polished and flows more smoothly.

Rules of Parallel Structure | Parallelism in Writing

The basic rule for parallel construction is that each element in a series must meet two conditions:

1. Each element must appear in the same grammatical form

2. Each element performs the same grammatical function

Examples of Different Types of Parallel Structure

Example: Ashley is a violinist, but Steve is a pianist.

  • Two dependent “that” clauses:

Example: The movie that you loved and that Jenna recommended is now on DVD.

  • Two or more prepositional clauses joined by conjunctions:

Example: Jeff ran over the bridge, through the bushes, and around the group of kids, to get home faster.

  • Two adverbial clauses:

Example: Jake enjoyed his vacation because the weather was good and because the beach was beautiful.

  • Two verbs joined by a conjunction:

Example: Mike drove home, and he ate a snack.

  • Two subjects joined by a conjunction:

Example: Colin and Hannah rank among the best senior athletes.

  • Two objects joined by a conjunction: 

Example: Kate wants to grow irises or sunflowers.

Parallel Structure Examples

Parallel Structure Using “ing” Endings

When there are two or more consecutive verbs in a sentence, using “ing” endings is one method of parallel construction that is very effective:

  • Lily loves skiing, swimming, and diving.
  • Michael is an expert in gourmet cooking, woodworking, and gardening.

Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions relate to each other and work together in pairs to join phrases or words of equal importance in a sentence.

Examples:

  • Neither Michelle nor Nicole wanted to attend Jessica’s party.
  • Not only does Brian teach music, but he also teaches biology.
  • Both Kim and Rachel are planning to vacation in California this month.
  • Either Emma or Natalie must feed the cats today.
  • If we lose electricity from the storm, then we will use the emergency generator.
  • Whether Joe arrives on time or not, we need to leave at 7:00 p.m.

Parallel Structure with Infinitives

Examples:

  • John likes to read, to paint, and to bike.
  • Megan’s goals were to volunteer at the camp, to compete in the race, and to graduate with honors.
  • Before the big test, I hope to sleep well, to eat a nutritious breakfast, and to go over my notes.
  • My favorite hobbies are to sew, to craft, and to scrapbook.

Parallel Structure with Clauses

Examples:

  • When choosing to hire a new employee, Jack doesn’t care who you know, where you attended college, or what GPA you had.
  • The most important qualities for our new nanny are her punctuality, her relationship with the children, and her commitment to the position.
  • Over the summer, Hailey will visit her cousins, attend an art class, and hike in the Catskills.

Parallel Structure with Colons

Examples:

  • The picnic committee asked for the following donations: desserts, beverages, cups, plates, and utensils.
  • Noah’s courses for the fall are the following: chemistry, art, gym, sociology, and calculus.
  • Katherine set goals for this week: take the cat to the veterinarian, shop for new luggage, and buy a gift for her friend’s birthday.

Parallel Structure with Other Lists

A parallel list means that each item in the list has the same structure:

Examples:

  • My list of activities this week are going to art class, working out at the gym, shopping for a dress, and visiting my grandmother.
  • This past weekend, I shopped for groceries, attended a concert, and dined with my friends.
  • On vacation, I will visit the art museum, go to the beach, take a sunset cruise, and shop for souvenirs.

Parallel Structure with Verb Tenses

Examples:

  • The teacher lectured on the book’s theme and then assigned us homework.
  • Maya attended her gymnastics class and then completed her homework.
  • Mark practices soccer on Wednesdays, plays soccer on weekends and volunteers as a mentor on Thursdays.
  • Jenna is visiting her sister on Tuesday, meeting with Ashley on Wednesday, and shopping for furniture on Saturday.

Parallelism | Infographic

Parallel Structure in Writing | Definition and Examples of Parallel StructurePin

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