Writing: Parallelism


Writing is comprised of numerous grammatical elements that must be woven together seamlessly to create fluid prose. One of these crucial elements is parallelism. When you write with parallelism, you are ensuring that the structure of your sentences reflects the balance and coherence of your ideas. This tutorial will take you through what parallelism entails, its importance, and how to use it effectively in your writing.

What is Parallelism in Writing?

Parallelism refers to using elements in sentences that are grammatically similar or identical in structure, sound, meaning, or meter. This similarity makes the sentence easier to follow and enhances the overall flow of writing. It can be used to link words, phrases, or clauses within a sentence or between sentences.

Example of Parallelism:

She likes hiking, swimming, and biking. In this sentence, the activities (hiking, swimming, biking) are presented in parallel or similar form.

Why is Parallelism Important?

Parallelism provides several functions within a piece of writing:

  • Facilitates readability by making the sentence structure predictable and easy to follow.
  • Clarifies relationships and connections between ideas.
  • Enhances rhythm, making the writing more engaging and memorable.
  • Highlights contrasts and comparisons.

How to Use Parallelism

Here are some guidelines on how to incorporate parallelism into your writing:

Parallelism in Lists, Comparisons, or Contrasts

When planning to use a list, comparison, or contrast in a sentence, make sure that each listed item, each comparison, and each contrasting element is presented in the same grammatical form.


Incorrect: He enjoys reading, to play football, and cooking.

Correct: He enjoys reading, playing football, and cooking.

In this correct example, each element (reading, playing football, cooking) is in the gerund form (-ing).

Parallelism with Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet) can be used to link words, phrases, or clauses of equal importance. Ensure all conjunctions are followed by the same grammatical structure.


Incorrect: She is smart and works hard.

Correct: She is smart and hard-working.

In the correct example, both adjectives following the conjunction 'and' (smart, hard-working) are in the same form.

Parallelism with Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions (either/or, neither/nor, not only/but also) also require parallel structures.


Incorrect: I will either go to the party or staying home to rest.

Correct: I will either go to the party or stay home to rest.

In the correct example, both verbs after 'either' and 'or' (go, stay) are in their base form.

The Importance of Maintaining Parallelism in Your Writing

Maintaining parallelism in your writing allows your reader to follow your ideas more easily due to the consistency and rhythm it provides. As a result, your writing becomes more interesting and engaging. It also helps you articulate ideas more effectively by highlighting important connections and juxtapositions.

Final Remarks

Parallelism is a powerful tool in writing, enhancing readability, rhythm, clarity, and emphasis. Keep these guidelines in mind to refine your writing style and produce structured, balanced, and compelling prose. Remember, mastering any aspect of grammar takes time and practice, so keep writing and revising to reinforce your understanding of parallelism.

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