Parallel structure places words, phrases, clauses, and sentences in a series of the same grammatical elements.  Creating parallel constructions shows the reader that two or more things relate to each other with equal importance.  Think of railroad tracks, which run parallel to one another.  If one track bends along the line, a train goes off the rails.  The same happens to a reader:  if ideas do not run parallel, the reader goes off the track of logical thought.

EXAMPLES

1.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity….

2.  He drew her to him, whispered in her ear, and kissed her.

3.  The professor told us to write in ink, to use only yellow paper, and to create four margins.

4.  Pearl Buck proved her craft: through her dynamic sentence structure, her suspenseful plot, and her enduring theme.

5.  He expressed gratitude to his teachers, to his parents, and to the school system.

USE PARALLEL STRUCTURE WITH CORRELATIVE CONJUNCTIONS

Correlative conjunctions work only in pairs.  It is crucial that you have the same grammar construction following each conjunction.

Remember that when “either” is used without “or” and “neither” is used without “nor,” “either” and “neither” act as an adjective or a pronoun.

Either movie seems to be a good choice. (adjective)

Either seems like a good choice to me. (pronoun)

Neither book was good. (adjective)

Neither was good. (pronoun)

either / orneither / nor
not only / but alsowhether / or

EXAMPLES

1.  Either go to bed early this evening or stop complaining about being tired in class.

2.  Neither the contestant nor his sponsor was willing to attend the lecture.

3.  The newspaper reported that not only the hurricane but also the ensuing floods caused millions of dollars worth of damage.

4.  Does anyone know whether the president or the vice president was responsible for providing the announcement to the press?

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