Parallelism is about sentence elements having the same grammatical form so that they are alike in construction. In this way, the elements can be described as parallel. There are various ways to do this. Good examples of parallelism:

 

 

Examples:

Good examples of parallelism:

  • Easy come, easy go.
  • Like father, like son.
  • What goes around comes around. 

 

 

 

Examples:

  • No: The team arrived at the cave to photograph the bats, explore the cave, and to collect guano. 
  • Yes: The team arrived at the cave to photograph the bats, explore the cave, and collect guano. 
  • Yes: The team arrived at the cave to photograph the bats, to explore the cave, and to collect guano. 
  • No: They described him as a charismatic leader, a competent lawyer, and a politician of good experience
  • Yes: They described him as a charismatic leader, a competent lawyer, and an experienced politician   
  • No: The employer is looking for workers who are strong, healthy and having a lot of energy. 
  • Yes: The employer is looking for workers who are strong, healthy and energetic 

 

 

 

Sentence elements having same grammatical form are joined by coordinating conjunctions such as andbut, and or as shown here; the coordinating conjunctions are underlined.  

 

Examples:

  • Sailing and fishing are what the two brothers often do together. (Gerunds)
  • He was tall, dark, handsome, plump, but not muscular. (Adjectives)
  • You are welcome to participate in the game or to watch. (Infinitives) 

 

 

 

 The elements are in the form of phrases in a list or series. 

 

Examples:

  • What we know is what we heard. (Wh-clauses: The elements are parallel and are joined by linking verbs) 
  • You missed it because you looked in the cabineton top of the cabinet, but not under the cabinet. (The phrases in bold are all prepositional phrases.) 
  • That’s all I had for breakfast: a slice of breada knob of buttera lump of cheese, and a piece of ham. (All are partitive noun phrases) 

 

 

 

When a correlative conjunction (either/orneither/nornot only/but alsoboth/andwhether/or) is used in a sentence, it should connect two equal grammatical items. For example, if a part of speech such as a verb follows either, the same part of speech must come after or.

 

 

Examples:

  • Tomorrow, she will either go to her first boyfriend’s birthday party or attend her second boyfriend’s home-warming party.
  • Bob was neither going to eat too much food nor letting himself get overweight.
  • Her only goal in life is not only to marry a billionaire but also to impress all her friends with her wealth.
  • Both my maternal grandmother and his maternal grandmother are twins. 
  • Sharon has a set of quintuplets and will now decide whether to give up her job or to hire a couple of nannies.