#19: Write Sentences with Parallel Structure

Writing with Parallel Structure

Main Idea

Teaching ESL students how to write English sentences with parallel structure can improve sentence clarity, style and impact not to mention good grammar. As the level of writing progresses, ESL students may find that sentences with parallel structure can serve many purposes, such as a thesis sentence in an essay or the concluding sentence of a paragraph.

What is Parallel Structure?

It is a writing style that repeats the same grammatical form in a sentence, usually two or three times.

Here is an example of a sentence that does not have parallel structure.

  • Mary likes cooking, skating and to ride a motorcycle.

This sentence lists three things that Mary likes to do. The list has two gerunds and one infinitive. That is not parallel and in English, that doesn’t read well or easily. Here are two better options:

  • Mary likes cooking, skating and riding a motorcycle. (all gerunds)
  • Mary likes to cook, skate and ride a motorcycle. (all infinitives)

Here is a sentence with good parallel structure.

  • I asked middle school students about their hobbies. Most girls said they enjoy eating ice cream, shopping for new pencils and chatting on the internet.

Downloads and Worksheets

  1. The text version of the parallel structure rules here.
  2. Parallel structure writing practice here.


Teach writing?

Get the ebook Teach Essential Writing Skills. Transform the quality of EFL student writing by focusing on four essential skills. Click here for details about the ebook that should be part of every writing teacher’s resource library.


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The image in this post comes from Jake Cook and its use complies with the owner’s creative commons licensing terms.

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