Bite Size Grammar Tip: Parallel Structure in Writing
From analytical essays to speeches to personal statements for college admissions, the author’s craft and organization are as equally important as the writer’s voice and textual analysis. One common rhetorical device that helps to make writing more memorable is the use of parallelism.
What is Parallel Structure or Parallelism?
Parallelism is a literary device and a persuasive tool in which parts of or clauses within a sentence are the same or similarly constructed, both structurally and grammatically. The repetitive and symmetrical nature of the parallel sentence allows for two or more ideas that have the same degree of importance to be presented together. Clauses can juxtapose or mirror one another within the same sentence. Parallel structure, due to its predictability, repetition, and symmetry, makes ideas easier for readers to process and to remember.
Famous Examples of Parallelism:
*Repeated words or phrases are italicized for emphasis
- “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
- – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
- “My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.
- – Barack Obama, speech.”
- “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
- – John F. Kennedy, speech
Consider using parallelism because its symmetrical structure helps readers to remember ideas, its predictability encourages readers to anticipate what is to come, and its mirroring of clauses encourages writers to clearly present their arguments!