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.
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
- Two sentences joined by a conjunction:
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 relate to each other and work together in pairs to join phrases or words of equal importance in a sentence.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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:
- 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
- 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.