The importance of parallel structure

Parallel structure is the repetition of a chosen grammatical form within a sentence. You create parallel structure by making each compared item or idea in your sentence follow the same grammatical pattern. That symmetry makes phrases more understandable and compelling, which should be your goal, particularly in persuasive writing.


Even if you can’t immediately spot the problem with parallel structure, your ear for language will often indicate that something is off. When reviewing your legal writing, keep an eye out for this issue.

Below are a few examples where parallelism is lacking and a change that fixes the issue.

Not parallel: The court expected that counsel would call witnesses, that she would enter documents into evidence, and that questions would be asked by the grand jury.

Parallel: The court expected that counsel would call witnesses, that she would enter documents into evidence, and that the grand jury would ask questions. (This change reflects active voice throughout.)

Not parallel: His conduct should be as disqualifying for the court as it was for firm.

Parallel: His conduct should be as disqualifying for the court as it was for the firm.

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