Focusing Sentences Through Parallelism
Parallel structures include word or phrase patterns that are similar. When ideas in a sentence or paragraph are similar, you can reinforce these similarities in meaning by creating parallel structures. Effective parallelism creates symmetry in sentences and adds force to your writing; it emphasizes the likeness between two or more ideas.
Correct Form for Parallel Structures
The first sentence below contains parallel structures; the second does not.
In the first example, the words "who are" are repeated three times, forcing the words "ambitious," "self-motivated," and "dedicated" to be alike. In the second example, "who are" makes sense with "ambitious," but "are" must be dropped for a reader to make sense of the following phrases in the sentence. When sentences are truly parallel, and the verbs are used exactly the same in each phrase, they do not need to be repeated.
Repeating the verbs becomes a question of style and emphasis. Don't go too far with parallelism! Sentence 1 above could also be stated, without too much repetition:
Parallelism to Clarify Meaning
Is Janet a biologist, or a biologist with an interest in interior design? This revision makes the meaning clear:
Some Ways to Use Parallel Structures With
Items in a series:
Lists and Outlines:
Note: As you write or update your resume, make sure all your listings are "parallel":
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