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Examples of Parallelism

Parallelism refers to using elements in sentences that are grammatically similar or identical in structure, sound, meaning, or meter. This technique adds symmetry, effectiveness and balance to the written piece.

Parallelism in Sentences

Examples of parallelism within sentences:

  • You need to work quickly and decisively.
  • He was a prolific author, writing poems, short stories, novels, and screenplays.
  • Like father, like son.
  • This is not only just what I wanted, but also just what I needed.
  • Congress needs to either reduce spending or raise taxes.
  • She is sneaky and manipulative.
  • In the parade the Boy Scouts presented the colors, the band marched and the mayor rode in a convertible.
  • The escaped criminal was wanted dead or alive.
  • Mother was very busy gathering the laundry, dusting the furniture and washing the dishes.
  • Easy come, easy go.
  • How you live your life is more important than how many millions you have.
  • To survive you need: water, food and shelter.
  • I want to have both a new house and a new wardrobe.
  • For exercise, I prefer swimming to calisthenics.
  • You may respond by calling, visiting or e-mailing.
  • What goes around comes around.
  • I am neither a Catholic nor a Protestant.
  • My favorite foods are pizza, chocolate, steak and donuts.
  • He likes television shows that have deep characters, interesting stories and good actors.
  • My face is washed, my hair is combed and my teeth are brushed.
  • We are giving away our furniture, selling our house and moving to Spain.
  • Flying is fast, comfortable, and safe.
  • To succeed in life, you need to take advantage of opportunities and to follow your dreams.
  • The problem was not in planning or in development, but rather in production.
  • Whether in class, at work or at home, Shasta was always busy.
  • Vote for Thomas because he is intelligent, caring, honest and hardworking.
  • Nancy read a book while Joe watched television.

Parallelism in Texts

Examples of parallelism in longer texts:

  • In the famous speech of Martin Luther King, Jr., the phrase “I have a dream” was repeated often and is an example of parallelism for clarity and emphasis.
  • “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy
  • In the Beatitudes from the book of Matthew in the Bible, they begin with “Blessed are the …” as in “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” and “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth.”
  • “I don’t want to live on in my work. I want to live on in my apartment.” – Woody Allen
  • “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.” – Jesse Jackson
  • “For the end of a theoretical science is truth, but the end of a practical science is performance.” – Aristotle
  • “My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.” – Barack Obama

These different sentences and blocks of text show how parallelism works and how it can be used as a useful literary tool.

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