Correlative conjunctions are pairs of words that work together to connect two or more sentence elements that are grammatically equal. They are essential in creating complex sentences and making them more coherent, concise, and easy to read.
The most common correlative conjunctions are:
presents a choice between two options
presents two negative options
presents two positive options
not only...but also
presents two positive options, with the second option adding emphasis or importance
Connecting two or more sentence elements that are grammatically equal. For example: “Not only do I like to read, but I also love to write.”
Expressing alternatives. For example: “Either you come with me, or I go alone.”
Expressing similarities or differences. For example: “She is as beautiful as she is smart.”
Comparing two things. For example: “The more you practice, the better you get.”
Expressing conditionals. For example: “Whether it rains or not, I will go to the party.”
Either you come with me, or I’ll go alone.
Not only did he complete his project on time, but he also exceeded expectations.
Both the cat and the dog are adorable.
She neither drinks nor smokes.
Whether it rains or not, I’ll still go for a run.
Either we study for the exam now or we’ll fail it tomorrow, and neither of us wants that.
Not only did she finish the race, but she also set a new record, which shows her incredible athleticism.
Both the professor and the students have been working hard, so I expect great results on this project.
She doesn’t eat meat, nor does she consume dairy, which makes her a strict vegan.
Whether you like it or not, we have to go through this process in order to achieve success.
Understand the function of the correlative conjunctions. As mentioned earlier, they are used to connect two equal parts of a sentence.
Use correlative conjunctions to emphasize a point or to show a contrast between two ideas.
Be mindful of the order in which you use the conjunctions. The first part should be connected to the first conjunction, and the second part should be connected to the second conjunction.
Don’t overuse correlative conjunctions. They should be used sparingly and only when necessary.
Either you learn to be patient or you’ll never achieve your goals.
Not only is he a talented musician, but he’s also a gifted writer.
Both the CEO and the employees are responsible for the company’s success.
She neither eats meat nor consumes dairy products, which is why she’s a strict vegan.
Whether we go to the beach or stay at home, we’ll have a great time.
Either you’re with us or you’re against us.
Not only did she ace the exam, but she also got a scholarship.
Both the bride and the groom looked stunning at the wedding.
She neither confirmed nor denied the allegations against her.
Whether we travel by car or by plane, we’ll still arrive on time.
Using a correlative conjunction to connect unequal parts of a sentence. Remember, correlative conjunctions are used to connect two equal parts of a sentence.
Using the wrong conjunction. Make sure to use the correct conjunctions depending on the context of your sentence.
Overusing correlative conjunctions. As mentioned earlier, correlative conjunctions should be used sparingly and only when necessary.
Correct: Either you study hard or you won’t pass the exam.
Explanation: This sentence is correct because it uses the correlative conjunction “either…or” to connect two clauses that express alternatives. The first clause presents one option, while the second clause presents the other option. The conjunction “either…or” indicates that only one of the two options can be true.
Incorrect: Neither John nor his sister likes coffee.
Explanation: This sentence is incorrect because it uses the correlative conjunction “neither…nor” to connect two subjects. However, it fails to connect two clauses that express alternatives. A better version of the sentence would be “Neither John nor his sister drinks coffee.”
Either you like sushi, or you’re wrong.
Neither the chicken nor the egg came first.
Both the cat and the dog were guilty of eating the cake.
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