Parallel structure is achieved when one uses similar grammatical structure.
Example of a sentence that lacks parallel structure:
I like to read, cycle, and sleeping.
What I’ve done is use a mix of grammatical structures, namely 2 infinitives and a gerund. To achieve parallel structure, all we have to do is use all infinitives, or all gerunds.
The following sentences use parallel structure:
I like to read, cycle, and sleep. (all infinitives)
I like reading, cycling, and sleeping. (all gerunds)
Example of a bulleted list. This list maintains parallel structure by introducing each bullet with a verb.
Health recommendations during a pandemic is to:
- Keep your distance
- Wash your hands
- Wear a mask
Alternatively, this list could have been written using the passive voice, starting every bullet with a noun:
During a pandemic, the instructions are easy to follow:
- Distance must be kept
- Hands must be washed
- Masks must be worn
Tip. A simple way to check for parallelism in your writing is to make sure you have paired nouns with nouns, verbs with verbs, prepositional phrases with prepositional phrases, and so on.