Resources for Parallelism

Rules for Parallelism

Parallel structure is used to express matching ideas. It refers to the grammatical balance of a series of any of the following:


Example:  The dog chased the cat along the fence, up the tree, and into the house.


Example:  The job market is flooded with very talented, highly motivated, and well-educated young people.


Example:  You will need a notebook, pencil, and dictionary for the test.


Example:  The children were told to decide which toy they would keep and which toy they would give away.


Example:  The farmer plowed, planted, and harvested his crops before the flood.


Example:  Reading, writing, and calculating are fundamental skills that all of us should possess.


Parallel structure also applies to the correlative conjunctions:

both . . . and
neither . . . nor
whether . . . or
either . . . or
not only . . . but also

Example:  Either you will do your homework, or you will fail; it is that simple.

NOTE: Correlative conjunctions must be used as pairs (not only with but also, not just but) and not mixed with other conjunctions such as neither with or.


Repetition of structural signals such as articles, auxiliaries, prepositions, and conjunctions

NOTE: Repetition of prepositions is considered formal and is not necessary.

  • You can traver by car, by plane, by boat, or by train; it's all up to you.


  • You can travel by car, plane, boat, or train; it's all up to you.


Who and which constructions that are too wordy

  • Bad: Nancy is a career-oriented young lady and who can cook and clean.
  • Better: Nancy is a career-oriented young lady who can also cook and clean.


Repetition of who and that clauses

  • She is engaged to a man who works hard and who donates his salary to charity.
  • The company works diligently to ensure that employees know company policies and that every employee is treated fairly.