Parallelism is a rhetorical technique by which a writer puts similar ideas or phrases into the same grammatical structure. All verbs in parallel clauses should be in the same tense, mood, and voice. Often faulty parallelism occurs when clauses in sequence are not in parallel structure.

Faulty: Colby students love to eat at Bob’s, run from security, and sometimes read.

Parallel: Colby students love to eat Dana burgers, to read magazines, and to run from security.

Correct parallel structures:

I am not to be tossed lightly aside, but to be hurled with great force.

Animals are never found frying their meat or boiling their veggies; perhaps we should learn from their example.


In longer papers, where headings separate individual sections of a paper, headings should also be in parallel structure.

Faulty e.g.:

How Supermarkets Save Money

Supermarkets: How It All Began

Looking Ahead: Supermarkets of the Future?

Parallel e.g.:

The economics of supermarkets

The history of supermarkets

The future of supermarkets