In basic accounting class, you learn about balancing assets and liabilities on a balance sheet. In math class, you learn to make parallels and how to plot them on graphs. Balanced sentences and parallel structures also exist in grammar, but they look nothing like your average train tracks. You need balance in speech and writing to construct sensible and logical statements for better communication. In this article, we will talk about how balanced sentences function with the help of a few examples.
Balanced sentences are a lot similar to parallel sentences in terms of structure. Like parallelism, a sentence is considered to be balanced if its two parts are equal in length, importance, as well as structure. The two clauses in the sentence are often separated by either a semicolon (;) or connecting words such as ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘or’, etc. These words are used to create symmetry in the statement, forming its equal parts. But when it comes to writing balanced sentences, it’s important to use the same form for all the words present in the given statement.
Balanced sentences are common in both speech and writing. Listed below are just some examples of famous lines delivered by well-known leaders in history:
“While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war, seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it.”
— Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, 1865
“We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
— John F. Kennedy
Linguists can agree that balancing sentences can help provide perspective for an audience to understand the message being conveyed in a given statement. Though some grammar tools, such as balanced sentences, are more conversational in nature, you can still find them in multiple poetic proses, persuasive speeches, and other forms of literature.
The examples of balanced sentences listed below are taken from some of the most iconic literary pieces in history:
“Her needle-work was seen on the ruff of the Governor; military men wore it on their scarfs, and the minister on his band; it decked the baby’s little cap; it was shut up, to be mildewed and moulder away, in the coffins of the dead.”
— The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
“… and though the mother was found to be intolerable, and the younger sisters noted worth speaking to, a wish of being better acquainted with them was expressed towards the two eldest.”
— Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
“Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the higmarketinghway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there.”
— In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
“On days when warmth is the most important need of the human heart, the kitchen is the place you can find it; it dries the wet socks, it cools the hot little brain.”
— Coon Tree by E.B. White
Apart from literature, balanced sentences are also apparent in today’s advertising slogans. One good example for this is Global Jet Airlines‘ tagline: “light is faster, but we are safer.” The concept of sentence balancing adds a special ring to the slogan, making it catchier and more memorable for customers to recognize. This draws attention to the given statement, helping it stand above the rest.
You may not have noticed how often balanced sentences are used in everyday speech. Although not everyone is critical to using proper grammar and sentence structure, there’s no harm in using balanced sentences to help emphasize an idea and to add a rhythmic tone to your words.
With that being said, take a look at these examples to further your understanding of balanced sentences:
Expanding your knowledge of the English language goes beyond just learning new hyperbole expressions and onomatopoeic words, as knowing how to structure sentences accordingly is essential in both speech and writing. We can’t deny how complex our language really is, which is why exploring its topics and subtopics plays an important role in communication.