2 Parallel StructureSentences or parts of a sentence are parallel when structures within them take the same form. Parallelism is important at the level of the word, the phrase, and the clause.
3 Words Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? ~Thoreau In this sentence, the words “hurry” and “waste,” both nouns, follow the preposition “with”; hurry and waste are parallel.In eternity there is indeed something true and sublime. ~ThoreauIn this sentence, the words “true” and “sublime,” both adjectives, modify the pronoun something; true and sublime are parallel.
4 PhrasesMen esteem truth remote, in the outskirts of the system behind the farthest star, before Adam and after the last man. ~ThoreauTo modify the adjective remote in this sentence, Thoreau uses parallel prepositional phrases.More difficult because there is no zeitgeist to read, no template to follow, no mask to wear. ~QuindlenAnna Quindlen uses three parallel nouns each preceded by no and each followed by an infinitive.
5 Clauses[W]e perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality. ~ThoreauThe sentence contains two parallel dependent clauses, each beginning with that and functioning as an object of the verb perceive.If we are dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business. ~ThoreauThis sentence begins with a dependent clause followed by an independent clause; then, after the semicolon, Thoreau presents another independent- dependent construction, parallel to the first.
6 Stylistic FunctionWriters use parallelism on the level of the word, phrase, or clause as a rhetorical and stylistic device to emphasize ideas, to contrast ideas, or to connect ideas.
7 Specific Types of Parallelism Anaphora—repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or linesAntimetabole—Repetition of words in reverse order“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” ~John F. Kennedy, Jr.Antithesis—Opposition, or contrast, of ideas or words in a parallel structureZeugma—Use of two different words in a grammatically similar way that produces different, often incongruous, meanings.“Someone sent me a T-shirt not long ago that read “Well- Behaved Women Don’t Make History.” They don’t make good lawyers, either, or doctors or businesswomen.” ~Anna Quindlen
9 Identify the parallel structure A penny saved is a penny earned.Was this act the work of a genius or lunatic?This situation is a problem not only for the students but also for the teachers.Heather learned to work fast, ask few questions, and generally keep a low profile.After you finish your homework and before you check your , please do your chores.
10 Identify the parallel structure A penny saved is a penny earned.Was this act the work of a genius or lunatic?This situation is a problem not only for the students but also for the teachers.Heather learned to work fast, ask few questions, and generally keep a low profile.After you finish your homework and before you check your , please do your chores.
11 Correct the Faulty Parallelism My new exercise program and going on a strict diet will help me lose the weight I gained over the holidays.Try not to focus on the mistakes that you’ve made; what you’ve learned from them should be your focus instead.A competent physician will assess a patient’s physical symptoms, and mental attitude will also be considered.
12 ResourcesShea, Renee, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin Aufses. The Language of Composition: Reading, Writing, Rhetoric, 2nd ed., Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013.