By convention, items in a series appear in parallel grammatical form: a noun is listed with other nouns, an -ing form with other -ing forms, and so on. Failure to express such items in similar grammatical form is called faulty parallelism.
- Editing Exercise: Faulty Parallelism
- Sentence Completion Exercise: Parallelism
- Balanced Sentence
- Correlative Conjunction
- Dirimens Copulatio
- Paired Construction
- The Inaugural Address of John F. Kennedy
- "Of Studies," by Francis Bacon
- "On Studies," by Samuel Johnson
Etymology:From the Greek, "beside one another"
Examples and Observations:
- "When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative."
(Martin Luther King, Jr.)
- "After a few miles, we drove off a cliff.
"It wasn’t a big cliff. It was only about four feet high. But it was enough to blow out the front tire, knock off the back bumper, break Dad’s glasses, make Aunt Edythe spit out her false teeth, spill a jug of Kool-Aid, bump Missy’s head, spread the Auto Bingo pieces all over, and make Mark do number two."
(John Hughes, "Vacation '58." National Lampoon, 1980)
- "New roads; new ruts."
(G. K. Chesterton)
- "He's quite a man with the girls. They say he's closed the eyes of many a man and opened the eyes of many a woman."
(telegraph operator to Penny Worth in Angel and the Badman, 1947)
- "They are laughing at me, not with me."
(Bart Simpson, The Simpsons)
- "Voltaire could both lick boots and put the boot in. He was at once opportunist and courageous, cunning and sincere. He managed, with disconcerting ease, to reconcile love of freedom with love of hours."
- "Truth is not a diet but a condiment."
- "Our transportation crisis will be solved by a bigger plane or a wider road, mental illness with a pill, poverty with a law, slums with a bulldozer, urban conflict with a gas, racism with a goodwill gesture."
(Philip Slater, The Pursuit of Loneliness)
- "Buy a bucket of chicken and have a barrel of fun."
(slogan of Kentucky Fried Chicken)
- "The loss we felt was not the loss of ham but the loss of pig."
(E. B. White, "Death of a Pig")
- "Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal."
(T.S. Eliot, "Philip Massinger," 1920)
- "[T]he value of parallel structure goes beyond aesthetics. . . . It points up the structure of the sentence, showing readers what goes with what and keeping them on the right track."
(Claire K. Cook, Line by Line. Houghton Mifflin, 1985)
- "O well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!"
(Alfred Lord Tennyson, "Break, Break, Break," 1842)
- "Today's students can put dope in their veins or hope in their brains. If they can conceive it and believe it, they can achieve it. They must know it is not their aptitude but their attitude that will determine their altitude."