Literary Devices

Parallelism characteristics uses and examples in detail


The parallelism is a literary device is to organize sequentially and repetitively the elements of a sentence or phrase. At the same time that this is done, the possibility of alternating some of the components of the sentence is generated. A calambur example is: I who was restless, I who was restless and barefoot. Parallelism characteristics uses and examples

The dictionary of the Royal English Academy defines parallelism as ‘the even organization of similar components that make up a syntactic sequential unit’. Etymologically, the word comes from the Greek language parallelos , which translates as ‘similarity that links two elements’.

On the other hand, since parallelism is a figure of repetition, it opens the way to the intensification and strength of the message expressed in the statement. This literary element is presented in the following ways: parison, semantic, correlational, isocolon, synonymic, antithetical, and synthetic. Parallelism is commonly used in poetry.

Characteristics of parallelism

The parallelism is characterized by the following aspects:

– Organization

Parallelism is mainly characterized by the symmetrical and equitable organization of the successive components that make up the structure of a statement. In this sense, the text maintains coherence and logical meaning. Parallelism characteristics uses and examples


She goes to the sea, she goes with her wave body to the origin.

– Repetition

Parallelism is a literary figure of repetition, by virtue of the fact that it continuously uses the same or similar elements within a text. This is applied to give more force to what is expressed.


Life hits hard, life hits and you have to go on living.

– Expressiveness

An outstanding feature of the parallelism is the expressive force that it contributes to the texts in what it is used. This is due to the way in which the syntactic components of the sentences are distributed and at the same time to the repetitive quality of the elements of the sentences.


Where does so much living tear go? Where does so much loose misery go?

– Rhythm

The parallelism enjoys rhythm and sonority, which occurs due to the repetition of words and the symmetric distribution of the linguistic components. For this reason, this literary figure is widely used in poetry, by virtue of the fact that it gives the verses beauty, musicality, depth and intensity.


I loved you in the North of life,

I loved you and it was early, like to die twice. (Juan Ortiz)


Parallelism is a rhetorical figure that is used to give texts force of expression and rhythmic dynamism, as mentioned in previous lines. At the same time, this literary element allows to capture the attention of the receiver through the repetition of the components that make up the sentences and paragraphs.

In short, the parallelism brings intensity, dynamism and sound to the writings. Hence, it is used in poems, songs, stories and novels. Some of the authors who made use of this technique were: Garcilaso de la Vega, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Lope de Vega and Luis de Góngora.

Now, once the concept, characteristics and uses of parallelism are known, the most common types are described below:

Types of parallelism

Isocolon parallelism

This kind of parallelism refers to the similarity that exists in the length of the syllables in the terms that are repeated within a sentence in a prose text. In poetry it is known as ‘isosyllabism’.


I was that night, went with them m isms ,

I was walking between shadows and abysms .

It was all arid and deserted ,

each one looked different, like dead .

Parison parallelism

This kind of parallelism refers to the similarity that exists between two phrases or sentences belonging to a poem or prose. The resemblance occurs in the metric and in the logic of its syntactic structure. It is also known as syntactic parallelism. Parallelism characteristics uses and examples


Where are you going with your life in tow?

Where am I going with this wound of mine?

She doesn’t know what love costs

He did not know what love would be.

Semantic parallelism

This variety of parallelism is based on repeating the same ideas and thoughts, but using different words and phrases. It is frequently seen in biblical poems and psalms.


Man seeks good and does not find it,

and he flees him for his human caste.

Correlation parallelism

Correlation parallelism is based on symmetrically placing words within a sentence to create a uniform structure.


The wild sea touches the siren,

its strong waves dance in the wind,

the woman with salt kisses her mouth,

and immediately fills all your breath.

Synonymic parallelism

This is characterized by repeating almost in its entirety the idea of ​​the original phrase.


The evil cat fled in the cold night,

The evil man to the cold soul, at night he fled with the cat.

Synthetic parallelism

In this case, the resemblance between the statements occurs in a structural way. There is not, in reality, a direct relationship of meanings. However, it is possible that the second sentence strengthens the idea of ​​the first.


Every person is a world.

And the world, many times, is nothing.

Antithetical parallelism

This type of parallelism has the peculiarity that its parts are opposed to each other, that is, they contradict or are contrary.


In the cold night life waits

also death with its deceptions.


– What will it be now that nothing is known? What will it be now that the world escapes us? (Synonymic).

– The dog walks that barks to see if it bites, but when it shuts its mouth it is a knife. (Atitético).

– If he goes and throws himself, he surely wins; If she goes and throws herself, he sure loses. (Syntactic). Parallelism characteristics uses and examples

– Tomorrow the gannet leaves in flight, it leaves with its wings at ground level. (Correlation).

– You learn a lot from walking so much. Mistrust comes from so much walking. (Synonymic).

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