What is parallelism?

Parallelism is a technique of ‘balancing’ sentences (meaning all parts are similar) by repeating a form or words.

How to make parallelism

Parallelism simply involves repeating structures, patterns or words. It can be simple:

adjective, adjective, adjective
noun, noun, noun

or a little more difficult:

time phrase + action, time phrase + action, time phrase + action
phrase, altered phrase

Examples of parallelism

In summer the farm grew corn, maize, wheat and barley.
(repeating nouns)

He looked at his watch, his shoes, his reflection in the mirror. It was time to go.
(repeating ‘his’ + noun)

Whether diving, swimming, running, or fighting, he loves sports.
(repeating -ing nouns)

She has a large, red house by the lake, a quick, sexy car in the driveway, and a handsome elegant man on her arm.
(repeating adj. + adj. + noun. + prep. + noun. structure)

When you are right, you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.
(Martin Luther King Jnr.)
(repeating sentence pattern)

Today’s students can put dope in their veins or hope in their brains. If they can conceive it, and believe it, they can achieve it. They must know it is not their aptitude but their attitude that will determine their altitude.
(Jesse Jackson)
(numerous repeating parts: sounds, structures, and words)

Using Parallelism

Parallelism is used to make writing easier to read, and ideas clearer. Used well it can also make lines people remember.

It is important to remember that not every sentence has to be amazing examples of parallelism (if every sentence has repeating structures, it stops looking special and starts looking silly).

Simple repeating structures can be used frequently, but complicated ones are best saved for effect