Parallel Sentences — Structure and Examples

Have you ever read a book or an article containing sentences that are complex in form? Particular sentences in a paragraph may sound strange to us because of how they are constructed, making it difficult for us to understand what the writer is trying to convey. Surprisingly, this is a common error in writing that can cause confusion among readers. To enhance your writing abilities, it’s important to practice parallelism in sentence construction. You may also like exclamatory sentence examples.

A parallel structure, also known as parallelism, refers to a grammatical construction having two or more words, phrases or clauses that are identical in form or length. This is used to add clarity when making a list or comparing items in a sentence. It adds symmetry and balance as well. Parallelism helps a writer craft compositions that are structurally and grammatically correct. But before proceeding further with the task of writing parallel sentences, it’s important to be familiar with its form. You may also see sentence fragment.

Guidelines for Creating Parallel Sentences

To understand the concept of parallelism, imagine a train as a means of transportation from one place to another. If you’re traveling to Canada from the U.S. in a train, then the train tracks of both countries must be of the same gauge (width); otherwise, goods would have to be transferred to another train when it reaches the border. Like how train tracks of the same gauge make operations easier, a parallel structure allows us to understand the given message of a sentence with ease. This creates a smooth flow of words that a listener or a reader may quickly comprehend. You may also see negative sentence.

parallel sentences

Tips on how to revise sentences to form a parallel structure:
1) Identify the parts of the sentence that are being listed or compared.
2) Determine whether they are parallel or not in terms of arrangement or construction.
3) If you find out that they are not, make the necessary changes through proper grammar construction in each part. You may also see examples of onomatopoeia in sentences.

Let us apply what we have discussed so far by studying the following examples:

Not Parallel:

Jeffrey likes biking, the rodeo, and to eat midnight snacks.

The items in the list above include biking, the rodeo, and to eat. This example does not exhibit parallelism because of the grammatical formation of things Jeffrey likes to do is not similar. To correct this, refer to the revisions below:

Parallel:

Jeffrey likes biking, attending the rodeo, and eating midnight snacks.
OR
Jeffrey likes to bike, to attend the rodeo, and to eat midnight snacks.
OR
Ellen likes to bike, attend the rodeo, and eat midnight snacks. – The first infinitive to may be carried over for all the verbs listed.

1. With Lists

When you draw comparisons in a form of a list, it’s important to use a parallel structure.

Not Parallel:

John Taylor Gatto criticizes public schools because they are compulsory, funded by the government, and destroy students’ humanity.

Parallel:

Jeffrey Taylor criticizes the music industry because they are thieves, advantageous, and controlling.
OR
Jeffrey Taylor criticizes the music industry because they steal from hardworking performers, take advantage of aspiring individuals, and control the works of artists.

2. With Conjunctions

Phrases or clauses that are connected with either a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet or so) or a correlative conjunction (not only…but also, either…or, neither…nor, if…then, etc.) must follow a parallel structure.

Not Parallel:

My corgi not only likes to play fetch but also take baths.

Parallel:

My corgi not only likes to play fetch, but he also likes to take baths.
OR
My corgi likes not only to play fetch but also to chase cars.

3. With Phrases or Clauses of Comparison

Parallelism should be observed when connecting phrases or clauses with words of comparison (than, as, etc.).

Not Parallel:

I would rather go to the party than home.

Parallel:

I would rather go to the party than stay at home.

Parallelism in Literature

Apart from everyday speech, parallel structures are also apparent in various forms of literature, such as short stories, famous novels, and other narratives. The repetitive nature of parallelism creates an enjoyable experience for readers which makes it easier to absorb and grasp the different concepts and ideas of the author. You may also see the run-on sentence.

“The wheels wheeled, the chairs spun, the cotton candy tinted the faces of children, the bright leaves tinted the woods and hills. A cluster of amplifiers spread the theme of love over everything and everybody; the mild breeze spread the dust over everything and everybody. Next morning, in the Lafayette Hotel in Portland, I went down to breakfast and found May Craig looking solemn at one of the tables and Mr. Murray, the auctioneer, looking cheerful at another.” You may also see transitional phrases and sentences.

— Goodbye to Forty-Eighth Street by E.B. White

The paragraph above shows parallelism in each complete sentence. Not only does it give balance to the author’s writing, but it also adds grace to each passage. Parallelism works to refine one’s writing, making it clear enough for readers.

Examples of Parallel Sentences

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The following examples show how parallel structures function in simple sentences and compound sentences:

  1. The manager told the employees that they need to come to work on time, that they need to manage their workload, and that they need to attend important meetings.
  2. The fox runs across the wood, jumps over the rock and moves down the hill.
  3. You need to move swiftly and quietly.
  4. The clothes are washed, the dishes are cleaned, and the dogs are walked.
  5. Flying is fast, convenient, and safe.
  6. You may reach me by calling, texting or e-mailing.
  7. It’s not just what you want, but it’s also what you need.
  8. I want to buy both a new phone and a new wardrobe.
  9. I would rather eat vegetables than to eat fish.
  10. The students are expected to do their projects quickly and efficiently.
  11. I am neither a supervisor nor a manager.
  12. Jennifer’s family is giving away their furniture, selling their house and moving to New Zealand.
  13. The criminal was wanted by the police dead or alive.
  14. My favorite movies are Maid in Manhattan, Serendipity, and The Last Song.
  15. To be truly happy in life, you need to let go of past mistakes and to make mindful decisions.
  16. Alex enjoys television shows that have odd characters, interesting plots, and talented actors.
  17. Kevin is wise and manipulative.
  18. I am voting for Derek because he is smart, caring, diligent and hardworking.
  19. My husband took me to a dance and a play.
  20. I would rather work for my money than receive financial help.
  21. Either he likes to see her or he doesn’t like to see her.
  22. On your desk, you will find the following: a pen, a paper, and a notebook.
  23. Henry and I watched a movie, played arcade games, and made brownies.
  24. My mother said to get a loyal partner and do not settle for less.
  25. Angela wanted to make sure that I made my presentation clearly, creatively, and persuasively.

Parallel structures in sentences greatly influence one’s writing. The rhythmic pattern of words enhances readability, making it easier for readers to identify the relation of ideas. This type of consistency is ideal for both commercial advertising and professional writing because of how it guides writers and their respective audience in understanding a piece. Using the same pattern of words allows readers to know that the ideas given are of equal importance. In addition, parallelism can also synchronize and emphasize a writer’s words and thoughts accordingly. You may also like an oxymoron in sentences.

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