Parallelism in Writing

Parallelism in writing can be defined as a tool that can sufficiently influence sentence structure. Moreover, it can also affect the meaning of thoughts presented in speaking and writing. Parallelism can be viewed as a repetition of grammatical elements. Parallelism is also often referred to as one of the core principles of rhetoric and grammar. However, in these two areas, it has a bit different meaning and application. For example, in grammar, it is used to present phrases and structures that are similar in their structure, and meaning. On the contrary, in rhetoric, it means presenting and balancing different ideas of high importance. Overall, this principle helps achieve the effectiveness of the text and makes writing and speaking more effective.

Purpose of Parallelism

The main task of parallelism in writing is to help create understandable text and deliver effective messages. Parallelism in literature is aimed at creating passages that are catchy and memorable for the readers. It is widely used in poetry, prose, etc. With the help of parallelism, symmetry is formed that makes it easier for the readers to understand and memorize the material. Many famous people used this principle in their speeches to make strong and long-lasting impression (e.g. Martin Luther King). This principle is also often used in songs to create phrases that will be easily recognizable by people.

What Is the Main Task of Parallelism?

Parallelism leads to good writing. If this principle is not implemented, the writing may be awkward and even boring. Parallelism in writing creates the sense of consistency.

The following examples of parallelism will help illustrate its purpose in writing.

A sentence without parallelism:

  • To complete his writing assignment, Bob read many books, scholarly articles, and reports.

A sentence with parallelism:

  • To complete his writing assignment, Bob read many books, articles, and reports.

Even though both sentences deliver the core message and are understandable, the one with a parallel structure is more consistent. The deal is that if a list of nouns is provided, the adjectives should either be used for each of them or not used for any. Using adjectives for some nouns in the list may create confusion and makes the text awkward.

How is Parallelism Used in Writing?

There are different parallel structures that can be used in writing to make the text more clear. All of them are widely applicable and can be effectively used by writers.

Some of such structures include the following:

Parallelism in Lists

To make a proper list, it is crucial to stick to a specific structure. For this reason, parallel structure is the best for lists. Such structures can be represented by different parts of speech, for example, nouns or adjectives.

Usage of parallel nouns for lists:

  • There are many books, journals, magazines, and newspapers in the library.

Usage of parallel adjectives for lists:

  • Our journey was exciting, interesting, and memorable.

Here are some other examples of correct and incorrect parallel structures:


I watched a comedy, thrillers, and a history movie yesterday.


I watched a comedy, two thrillers, and a history movie yesterday.


I like to run, jumping, and doing squats.


I like to run, jump, and do squats.

Parallelism in Phrases and Clauses

Parallelism is important for phrases and clauses to make them understandable and easy to comprehend.

Example of Parallelism in Phrases


You can put the book on the table or you can put it on the shelf.


You can put the book on the table or the shelf.

Example of Parallelism in Clauses


I need clarification regarding how to act and what to say at the meeting.


I need a clarification regarding what to do and say at the meeting.

Example of Parallelism in Ideas

Another way to improve the coherence in sentences is to provide similar ideas. Here are some examples of how it can be done using parallelism.


My friends are positive, friendly, and depressive.


My friends are positive, friendly, and joyful.


My dog is big, strong, and hungry.


My dog is big, strong, and loyal.

Parallelism and Literature

In literature, parallelism can be defined as the use of similar constructions in phrases or clauses. Parallelism is very essential in literature, especially if the author tries to reach coherence and consistency in his/her writing. As a result, this principle should be properly used while constructing sentences to reach maximal effect. In literature, parallelism is used with the main aim to create a harmonious and fluent flow of words and phrases. By using parallelism, it is possible to make readers interested in what they read and win their attention. This principle helps to make the writing meaningful and understandable. In addition, this principle is also used by writers to establish connection between different ideas in the text. For this purpose, comparison and contrasting can also be used.

Why Is Parallelism Used by Writers?

Considering the fact that parallelism is widely used to improve the written text, it is also often used by writers for different purposes. Some of them include:

  • To compare ideas of things.
  • To improve the flow of information in a text.
  • To make stress on the relationship between different ideas in the text.
  • To express key ideas in a more effective manner, etc.

In addition to numerous examples of parallelism in literature, it can be easily found in other written texts. Even the list above represents parallelism because all the phrases in it are written in the same manner and using the same structure. They all start with “to” followed by a verb. Such structure makes it easy to read and understand.

Why It Is Important to Use Parallelism

Usage of parallelism is beneficial for many reasons. First of all, it helps to deliver messages in an understandable manner. By using parallelism, it is possible to make the text readable and more attractive for readers. It can be widely used in different literary texts, such as poetry, prose and also in speeches, and other written texts. Besides, it is also used in songs, which makes people memorize them faster. Overall, parallelism is a very useful tool that can improve any written text if used properly.

Parallelism Essay Example

Parallelism is a stylistic device used in literature. Style can be used to enhance writing and if it has a positive connotation, it makes writing of good quality. Parallelism terms the unexpected occurrence of events in a regular form. Parallelism is also an alternative form of foregrounding. The repetition of norms in the form of historical events, linguistics or generic norms belongs to parallelism. Grammatically speaking, parallelism entails parallel constructions. Parallelism as a grammatical style places related phrases and clauses in the same or different sentences in a manner that makes reading and processing of the sentences easier.

In grammar, parallelism takes different forms. For instance, words, phrases and clauses can take an order of increasing intensity. This is climax in parallelism. The repetition of a word at the end of successive clauses, phrases and words achieves epistrophe parallelism. Anaphora in parallelism comes about when a part at the beginning of neighbouring sentences appears in repetition. Asyndeton in parallelism entails the omission of unnecessary conjunctions. Antithesis introduces two opposites in one sentence to enhance their contrast. Symploce combines anaphora and epistrophe to achieve parallelism.

In the study of the book Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, some of these forms of parallelism can be witnessed. This makes the sentences easy to follow and comprehend. This is just one illustration as there are many more such examples in the book. Jonathan Swift writes that he was sent to Emanuel College in Cambridge at a very young age of fourteen years. Here he resided for three years, and applied himself close to his studies though. This proved interesting. He writes, “Although I had a very scanty allowance, being too great for a narrow fortune, I was bound apprentice to Mr. James Bates, an eminent surgeon in London, with whom I continued four years” This is Gulliver speaking. Here, parallelism makes the passage flow in a way that is easy to read and understand.

The sequence of ship wrecks landing him in alien lands is outstandingly noticeable. He finds himself washed ashore in Lilliputia after a shipwreck. A storm blows him and his fellow sailors to the shore of Brobdingnag. In another unfortunate experience, pirates attack Gulliver’s ship, and luckily the people of the flying island of Lilliputs save him. He finds himself in the land of the Houyhnhnms as a result of mutiny on his ship.

It is also conspicuous that Gulliver rarely leaves these alien lands out of his own will. He flees the land of Lilliputs when the authorities there pronounce a sentence to make him blind. At Brobdingnag, an eagle accidentally picks him in his travel box and drops him in the ocean, from where sailors rescue him and take him back to England. From the land of Houyhnhnms, Portuguese sailors take him to England against his will. It is out of the ordinary how one person could face such an experience.

Jonathan Swift achieves parallelism where Gulliver always finds himself time and again in lands with rather bizarre qualities. At Lilliputia, he finds himself a giant among the natives; at Brobdingnag, he is outstandingly a dwarf. Gulliver even finds himself in a flying island not to mention among the humanoids, the Houyhnhnms. This unexpectedly happens as he finds himself in all these lands accidentally.

Jonathan Swift employs parallelism in his book as a style which makes his book interesting to a reader. The grammatical parallelism, which he uses generously, makes the book easy to read, understand, and remember. The book is also very popular among readers. The parallelism in experiences of Gulliver makes this a tale out of the ordinary.