WRITING:  PARALLELISM                                                December 4, 2017

Our writing should flow well for our readers. When we write parts of the sentence in parallel fashion, we keep things logical, clear, and easy to read. Parallelism gives the sentence a sense of coordination and unity, rhythm and power. One of the best examples of parallelism came from President Abraham Lincoln:

“. . . that the government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Now, compare the following examples:

I’ve spent the past week reading, some writing, and I took long walks.

That sentence jolts readers, causing them to pause and think between the two independent clauses.   They think, “Wait a second. I have to read this again. What’s the writer talking about? Is a word or two missing? It feels weird. Shouldn’t it be worded in a different way?” Now, look at how the next sentence differs.

I’ve spent the past week reading, writing, and taking long walks.

By contrast, the second sentence–one independent clause–flows smoothly because of the use of parallelism in the gerunds “reading,” “writing,” and “taking.” The sentence is parallel and easy to read within an economy of words.

In this lesson we have given you a brief overview of parallelism in sentence structure. You now should have a good idea of how to construct parallel sentences. If you feel that you need a comprehensive treatment, you may wish to enroll in Writestyle’s Editing course.

Also, we used an example of parallelism that was written and spoken by a famous person in world history.   What other famous examples of excellent parallelism can you find?

Many lessons and bits of advice in this writing/grammar series have been taken from Writestyle’s online campus of courses covering Grammar, Punctuation, Proofreading, and Editing.  If you need help, we’re here for you.





Vickie L. Weaver

Vickie L. Weaver

Owner at Writestyle
Writing has been an important talent and part of my life since I was a child.Professionally, after decades of employment for others, I founded Writestyle in 1996 to provide writing, editing, proofreading, training, and more to clients worldwide (www.writestyle.com).Clients often call my work “magic.”I have written and/or edited for “Coexistence Magazine” (national), for “Ohio Magazine,” and for various newspapers.In addition, I have edited or contributed to the writing of numerous books.Personally, I have written in various genres.I have always composed poetry; as such, I have won awards and publication for some of my poems, and I am compiling a book of my poetry.One of my children’s books is set for publication.With my second husband, family and friends in Ohio, I enjoy music and dance, aid charitable causes, and strive for beauty and harmony in life.
Vickie L. Weaver

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