Writing eTips UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You
May 2008 UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You

Creating Parallel Structure in Sentences

One great way to add style and clarity to your writing is to use parallel structure when conveying similar ideas. Parallel structure emphasizes the relationship between ideas by using words, phrases, or clauses of the same type.

Consider the strength of Winston Churchill’s statement “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” That list of one-syllable nouns carries quite an impact.

Parallel phrases can have a similar impact, as do the prepositional phrases in Lincoln's famous line from the Gettysburg Address, “government…of the people, by the people, and for the people.

The clauses in Benjamin Franklin’s clever statement “We must indeed all hang together or we will most assuredly all hang separately” form another excellent example of parallelism.

Parallel structure can also emphasize a contrast, as in the statement I’d rather be a roaring kitten than a cowering lion. In this case, the parallel phrasing emphasizes the two creatures’ differences.

Correlative conjunctions are often used to create parallelism, with each portion of the statement written in the same form:

The board of directors not only sanctioned the manager’s expenditure but also applauded her foresight.

Here, both phrases begin with a past-tense verb and end with a direct object.

So remember, use parallelism to connect related ideas and create a pleasant rhythm, making your writing both clear and enjoyable.

You can learn more about parallel structure on page 95 of Business and Sales Correspondence, part of the EZ Series of business writing materials from UpWrite Press.

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That Little Extra

Have you become familiar with the “Symbols” section of your word processing software’s “Insert” menu? It’s a big help when you need to use nonalphabetical characters. Some programs include menus of scientific or mathematical symbols, which might come in handy for certain types of reports. Others have non-English alphabet letters, including those with diacritical marks—a big plus in international communications. Many programs also supply editing symbols, allowing you to do neat electronic editing with just a couple of clicks. Take a few minutes out of your busy routine to explore this handy word processing tool.

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May Writers’ Forum Topic

How’s your spelling? If you are a terrific speller, how did you get that way? To what do you attribute this gift? And if you're a poor speller, how do you make sure that your writing is error free—especially when it comes to words that sound alike but are spelled differently, the mistakes that spell-checkers miss?

Email your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write “May Writers’ Forum” in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

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Coming in June:
Using Modifiers Correctly
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eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, Inc., P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105. Copyright © 2008, UpWrite Press. All rights reserved. Visit www.upwritepress.com.