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Correlative Conjunctions

The part of the speech which is used in connecting words, clauses, sentences or phrases is commonly termed as conjunctions. Correlative Conjunctions are those that are in the form of pair of words, they correlate to join phrases or words that carry equal importance within a sentence.
For example:
  1. Every night, either loud music or fighting neighbors wake John from his sleep.
  2. Not only blue but also red looks good on you.
What are Correlative Conjunctions?
Conjunctions are mainly of three types: coordinating, subordinating and correlative. The correlative conjunctions are the ones that are working in pairs for joining words or groups that carry same weight in a sentence in order to link equivalent elements in a sentence. They help indicate the relationship between elements they connect in a sentence.

Example: either/or, whether/ or etc.

It can be clearly seen that there are some conjunctions that are common in different categories. The difference lies in the use of them as made. Likewise “or” serves as a coordinating conjunction when used alone but together with “either” it serves as a correlative conjunction. “So” is another conjunction that sometimes acts as a coordinating conjunction and sometimes as subordinating conjunction. The difference lies in the use of them made in a sentence.

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Basic Rules for Correlative Conjunctions

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  • Whenever we use correlative conjunctions in a sentence if a noun is followed by one part of the correlative conjunction say “either” then a noun in the same sentence will also be followed by another part of the sentence, say “or”.
          For example:
  1. Either you complete your work or you would not be given your incentives.
  • One should always be careful about the agreement of verbs while making use of correlative conjunctions that is whenever we are connecting two subjects by making use of a correlative conjunction then the second one should always agree with the verb that will follow.
         For example:
  1. Everyday either her mother or the alarm of the clock wakes her up for school.
  2. Everyday either the alarm of the clock or her mother wakes her up for school.
  • Whenever we are connecting two antecedents by making use of a correlative conjunction then the second one should always agree with the pronoun that will follow.
          For example:
  1. Neither Sophie nor her cousins are preparing well for the family get together.
  2. Neither the cousins nor Sophie are preparing well for the family get together.
  • A special attention is required while proofreading the correlative conjunctions for parallelism. This implies that the grammatical units after both the parts of the correlative conjunctions should be equal
          For example:
  1. Sam grilled chicken for not only Tiffany but also for Doodle, her pet.

List of Correlative Conjunctions

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Conjunctions that are used in pairs to join phrases or sentences that carry the same meaning and tone in order to join groups or words that are of equal importance in a particular sentence are called correlative conjunctions. In general we have following pairs of correlative conjunctions.

1. Either/or:
    This conjunction is commonly used to convey a choice or possibilities. We can use ‘or’ separately as well but that would not             convey choice however an option.

    Example: I want either the cheesecake or the frozen hot chocolate.
                    Either Samuel or Chris must have done this mischief.

2. Neither/nor:

    This conjunction is used to negate two different choices. Neither is used with ‘nor’ to indicate two or more people, things, actions,     etc. wherein something is not true.

    Example: Jim is neither particularly stupid nor extremely smart.
                    Neither Batman, nor Superman can save Gotham.

3. Not only/but also:

    This conjunction is used to combine sentences that are demonstrating two choices that are contradictorily typical. It is used to         say that both of two related statements or sentences are true.

     Example: His new car is not only super fast but also very luxurious.
                     It snowed not only in Seattle, but also in neighboring cities
                     Matt lied not once but twice to the judge.

4. Just as/so:
    This conjunction is used for explaining a relation or similarity between two subjects. It is used to say that both of two related             statements are true.

    Example: Just as my mom loves cooking, so do I.
                    Just as the Brazilians love soccer, so the Indians love cricket.

5. Whether/or:
    This conjunction is used to show two different options within a sentence and can be used both the manners of confirmation and          negation.

    Example: "Whether you like her or not isn't the problem," I said.
                     Andrew wasn’t sure whether to go on holiday or stay at home.

6. Both/and :
    It is used for combining two elements words or phrases of exactly same importance in a sentence.

   Example: Both Maria and Jack are going to the library.
                   Adrian enjoyed both the movie and the popcorn.


Some of the less frequently used correlative conjunctions are:
  • As….as
  • So….as
  • No sooner….than
  • The more….the more
  • The more….the less
  • Such….that
  • As many….as
  • Scarcely….when
  • Rather….than


The following rules must be followed while making use of any of the correlative conjunctions in sentences.
  • We can connect nouns using correlative conjunctions as below:
  1. Special schools are not easy but difficult.
  2. Both flowers and trees are seen growing colorfully during the summer.
  • We can connect adjectives using correlative conjunctions as below: 
  1. Summer camp is offering not only riding but also trekking instructions.
  2. Kids are seen enjoying both dry and wet sports.
  • We can connect prepositional phrases using correlative conjunctions as below: 
  1. I'll either take my vacation in the month of July or in September.
  2. Most of the students are neither above nor below the standard academic standards of the nation.
  • We can connect independent clauses using correlative conjunctions as below: 
  1.  Not only do students enjoy sports, but they also enjoy studies.
  2.  Whether the members of the board are happy or they are sad, they all have to be dedicated to the company's agenda.

Examples of Correlative Conjunctions

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  1. There are as many curtains as there are windows.
  2. A fox can’t run as fast as a leopard.
  3. He’d rather play the drums than sing.
  4. She is not only a radio jockey but she is also practicing being a surgeon.
  5. Such was the nature of their relationship that they never would have made it even if they’d wanted to.

Practice Time : 
Choose the correct correlating conjunctions:
  • Such was her beauty that men from far and near came to woo her.
  • I had scarcely walked in the door when I got the call and had to run right back out again.
  • She not only acted in the movie but also assisted in the direction of it.
  • Peter is as tall as Timothy.
  • The more you will work the more you will get paid.
  • I can’t decide whether I should learn French or Spanish in vacations.
  • Paul had scarcely reached the platform when the train started moving.
  • There are as many chairs as there are students.
  • No sooner had she read the letter than she burst into tears.
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