40+ Examples of Parallel Structure in Sentences (with Definition)

The examples of parallel structure you will find in this tutorial will help you to understand exactly what a parallel structure is. This is why I would like us to begin with a definition of parallel structure.

Definition of Parallel Structure or Parallelism

Parallel structure refers to a deliberate repetitive use of the same grammatical form or grammatical unit within a sentence. A parallel structure may be used in writing or in a speech.

You can learn more about grammatical form and grammatical function in another tutorial.

A more popular term for parallel structures that is used among both students and teachers of Literature is parallelism.

Parallel structure and parallel construction are also used interchangeably.

Another key feature of a parallel structure is that it produces a certain musical rhythm in the rendering of a sentence. This rhythmic tone often accentuates the desired effect on the audience.

Parallel Structure vs Repetition in Literature

There is a clear difference between parallel structure (or parallelism) on the one hand, and repetition as a literary device on the other.

Note that a parallel structure is not about the repetition of the same word or group of words. Instead, it is the repeated use of the same grammatical form or grammatical structure, regardless of which specific word or words constitute it.

So while sentences A and B below contain examples of parallel structure (parallelism), what we have in sentence B is not a parallel structure. It is rather the literary device known as repetition.

A: They sang, danced and prayed.

B: Brad walks slowly and speaks hesitantly but eats hastily.

C: They sang a little, then sang again. And when they sang for the third time, it brought tears to our eyes.

The Importance of Parallel Structure

There are many uses for parallel structures in writing or in speech. Find below the importance of parallel structures.

Writers and speakers employ parallel structures for the following reasons.

It improves the ease of reading

The use of parallel structure in writing makes reading easier.

To make all elements have an equal level of importance

Also, a parallel structure shows that each element listed within the construction is of equal importance to the others.

To create climax

Quite often, parallel structures are used for the purpose of creating a climax or an anti-climax. The below examples of parallel structure explain this point.

  • Example of Climax: Jobs are hard to find, tough to maintain and impossible to keep.
  • Example of Anti-Climax: We will smile, laugh and cry.

For Alliteration

A writer may use parallel structures as a means to create alliteration in a poem, a novel or a play.

  • Example: Artificial Intelligence is replacing, redefining and repurposing jobs in every industry.

Figures of Speech and Literary Devices 101 – PDF

Parallel structures facilitate understanding.

When a parallel structure is employed in a speech, it sounds good to the ear and may facilitate easy understanding.

For emphasis

Another importance of parallel structures is that they are used for emphasis and to reinforce a particular point or idea.

To contrast

A parallel structure may be used to establish a contrast between different states, qualities or characteristics. Oxymoron and antithesis, other literary devices, may be used to achieve contrast in this case.

  • Example: You are my sunshine and my night.

For rhetorical effect

Additionally, parallel structure in a speech can boost its rhetorical quality.

Consider the examples of parallel structure below. While sentences A and B, contain parallel structures, sentences C and D do not.

A: She gave me her heart, my life and a reason to live.

B: Your thoughts, her words, and their deeds all mean nothing to me.

C: Her thoughts, which she wrote in words just to make their deeds look good mean nothing to me.

D: I gave you my heart, you are the maker of my life but the reason I cannot live is you.

As I said earlier, the specialized term used in Literature to describe parallel structures is Parallelism.

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More Examples of Parallel Structure

Are you ready to have more creative examples of parallel structure? Then have a look at the ones I’ve assembled here for you.

Repetition of Noun

Anderson is a farmer, marketer and programmer.

Hunger, disease and squalor are common in many parts of the world.

Repetition of Pronoun

On that day, I will remind her, you and them of what happened here today.

Peggy’s decision to buy that vacuum cleaner will benefit her, him, you and me.

Repetition of Verb

I knocked, called and whistled all to no avail.

The company manufactures, sells, buys and repairs vending machines.

Repetition of Adjective

A resolute, determined and courageous prosecutor is what we need.

That laptop is fast, durable and expensive.

Repetition of Adverb

The event benefitted the country economically, culturally and politically.

I need a smart, hardworking and honest freelancer for this job.

Repetition of Verb + noun phrase Structure

Mick crossed the road, approached the suspect and grabbed his legs before he could run.

I need you to answer the calls, prepare our meals and iron my clothes.

Repetition of a noun phrase structure (made up of a noun + prepositional phrase)

They are men of integrity, citizens of valour and defenders of justice.                                                                                         

You are carriers of bad news, agents of disaster and enemies of progress.

Repetition of noun phrase + prepositional phrase structure

He is the creator of the universe, the master over our destinies and the source of all abundance.

George is a traveller from a distant land, a man with a pure heart, but the bringer of trouble.

Repetition of noun clause + prepositional phrase structure

What you say in your privacy and what you do behind closed doors are pointers to who you are before the world.

The holiday shoppers want to know if they can buy goods on the internet, if they can resell goods in their shops and if they can share goods with other shoppers.

Repetition of noun phrase structure

Their thoughts, their dreams and their motivations have all been for the common good.

You are my sister, my friend and my mother all rolled into one.

Repetition of a noun clause structure

Whatever we do, whichever way we turn, and whoever we become shall all be the result of our thoughts.

What we believe now, what we hold dear and what we do next will determine who we are.

As a people, we have made a solemn vow to our homeland that we will stand firm, that we will fight on, and that we will die here if need be.

Repetition of adjectival phrase structure (adjective + to-infinitive)

Security locks that are hard to break, heavy to carry and beautiful to behold are difficult to find.

That girl is hard to please, hard to convince and hard to understand.

Repetition of adjectival phrase structure (intensifier adverb + adverb)

She is so kind yet so sensitive and so vulnerable.

I’m pretty sure but much concerned that he will turn down the offer.

Repetition of a verbless adverbial clause structure

Though thoughtful, though compassionate and though hardworking, Martha can never win Robert’s love.

While in London, when in Paris or even if in Munich, Joyce doesn’t feel like a stranger.

Repetition of an adverbial clause structure

No matter how careful we are, no matter what we do and regardless of where we go, it is clear there is no escape for us in this matter.

So long as I am in charge and so long as you are by my side, I will make sure that as much as I can, you never lack anything.

Repetition of an adverbial clause of time structure

It happens every time she is absent; when the children are asleep and while I watch TV.

We will start as soon as the day breaks, just before the coach arrives but not until you give the go-ahead.

Repetition of Verb + prepositional phrase structure (verb + preposition + noun phrase)

When you speak to other people, complain about your problems and cry over every mistake, what benefits do you hope to gain?

Repetition of nominal -ing infinitive clause structure

She would enjoy seeing him cry, hearing him scream and making him suffer.

Creating new jobs, increasing tax revenue and controlling inflation rates are the objectives of fiscal policy.

Final Thoughts

You will find more examples of parallel structure in the course of your English Grammar and Literature studies. I want you to draw inspiration from the above examples and try to personally come up with as many parallel structures as you can.

Again, when it comes to literary appreciation, I expect you to find it much easier to identify instances of parallel structure in poetry and other genres of literature.

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Ralph Nyadzi is the Director of Studies at Cegast Academy. He is a qualified English tutor with decades of experience behind him. Since 2001, he has successfully coached thousands of High School General Arts WASSCE candidates in English, Literature and related subjects. He combines his expertise with a passion for lifelong learning to guide learners from varying backgrounds to achieve their educational goals. Ralph shares lessons from his blogging journey on BloggingtotheMax. He lives with River, his pet cat, in the Central Region of Ghana.

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