Parallel Structure

By Madeline Sanderson

Definition

  • Also known as parallelism, is a rhetorical and stylistic device in literature, speeches, advertising, and popular songs
  • Using the same grammatical pattern or structure when listing two or more words, phrases, or clauses

Importance

  • Creates rhythm and balance and enables the writer to present ideas clearly, concisely, and smoothly
  • Helps the writer to highlight or emphasize information or make a powerful point
  • Makes writing easy to understand, pleasing to hear, and persuasive
  • Stops writing from becoming clunky, awkward, and needlessly confusing

Examples

Literature

  • Hamlet
    "To die, to sleep- to sleep, perchance to dream."
  • The Things They Carried
    “The things they carried were largely determined by necessity. Among the necessities or near-necessities were P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wristwatches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water. Together, these items weighted between 15 and 20 pounds, depending upon a man’s habits or rate of metabolism. Henry Dobbins, who was a big man, carried extra rations; he was especially fond of canned peaches in heavy syrup over pound cake. Dave Jensen, who practiced field hygiene, carried a toothbrush, dental floss, and several hotel-sized cars of soap he’d stolen on R&R in Sydney, Australia.”

Sayings

  • Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. (Benjamin Franklin)
  • Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. (Oscar Wilde)

Speeches

  • "With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day." (Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream)

Songs

  • "I've been trying to do it right
    I've been living a lonely life
    I've been sleeping here instead
    I've been sleeping in my bed" (The Lumineers, Ho Hey)