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Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative Conjunctions

Conjunctions are words which we use to join parts of a sentence. We have three types of conjunctions in English grammar. One of them is correlative conjunctions.

Coordinating and Subordinating conjunctions are discussed in detail on our site Study English Page. After reading this post, you will be able to use correlative conjunctions correctly.

Definition of Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are defined as pairs of words that connect two parts of a sentence that hold equal value. The two parts correlate with one another and work in pairs.

  • Ali likes both ice cream and chocolate.

We have correlative conjunctions ‘both…….and’ in this example. The job of this is to connect two objects. This sentence tells that Ali likes ice cream, and he likes chocolate, too. Both things carry equal importance. Both things are connected by the pair of correlative conjunctions.

Correlative Conjunctions

List of Correlative Conjunctions

  • Either ……….    .…… or
  • Neither ………....…... nor
  • Such …………….....… that
  • Whether ……....….… or
  • Not only ……….....… but also
  • Both …………….....…. and
  • As many/much ……..as
  • No sooner ……....….. than
  • Rather …………....….. than
  • If …………………...…... then
  • Scarcely/hardly…….. When
  • Just as ……………    … so

Examples of Correlative Conjunctions in Sentences

  • You can either go on a hike or go by taxi.
  • I teach neither loudly nor softly.
  • You asked such a foolish question that he could not answer you.
  • I will write him a letter whether you agree or not.
  • They not only invited you but also invited me to the party.
  • Both Ali and John do their work on time.
  • I don’t have as many books as you have.
  • We had no sooner eaten meal than you called.
  • I would rather teach something than stand silent.
  • If it rains, then take a taxi.
  • Scarcely had I gone to the bed when I was called.
  • Just as I like fried chicken, so does my brother like baked chicken.

What do correlative conjunctions connect?

Correlative conjunctions connect nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, phrases, prepositional phrases, or clauses.

Noun: I studied both English and Chinese.

Verb: He would rather meet than call.

Adjective: The tour was not only enjoyable but also educational.

Adverb and Noun: The boy walked as slowly as a crocodile.

Prepositional Phrase: He likes not only to play cricket but also to visit different places.

Phrase: You can either call her or write a letter.

Clause: I have no objections whether you will visit your uncle, or you will go with us on the trip.

Subject-Verb Agreement

When we use either …….. or and neither ……….. nor, we may get confused about the subject verb-agreement because we have more than one subject. It looks a little tricky. There are two rules regarding the subject verb-agreement.

Proximity Rule

The proximity rule tells us about two subjects in a sentence that the subject closest to the verb determines its agreement with the verb. If the closest subject is singular, the verb must be singular. Similarly, if the closest subject is plural, the verb must be plural.

  • Either the students or the administrator organizes the farewell party.

In this example, the subject (administrator) is closer to the verb; consequently, singular form of the verb is used.

Logic Rule

This rule tells if one of the subjects in a sentence is plural, the form of the verb must be plural.

  • Either the students or the administrator organize the farewell party.
  • Either the administrator or the students organize the farewell party.

Remember that the second example is the best option to use. Both of the rules are applied correctly.

Double Negatives

Some people make a common mistake by making double negatives. Generally, words of negations don’t need to be used in a sentence having 'not' because they will become double negative. The correlative conjunctions ‘neither …….nor’ are already negative, so a sentence that has ‘neither ……. Nor’ does not need ‘not’ or another word of negation.

  • Ali did not go neither to the park nor to the club. (Incorrect)
  • Ali went neither to the park nor to the club.

Do correlative conjunctions come in pairs?

Correlative conjunctions are paired conjunctions because they always come in pairs. Many of these words can be used separately from their correlative partners, but we can’t call them correlative conjunctions in such a case.

  • Ali drove his car fast and cautiously.

In this example, the word ‘and’ is not correlative conjunction. It connects two adverbs but functions as a coordinating conjunction.

Parallel Structure

When using correlative conjunction, we must use parallel structure. The elements behind the conjunctions must be of the same type.

  • They are not only eating but also talking.

Both of the conjunctions are followed by verbs.

  • They are eating not only mangoes but also studying math.

In this example, the first part of paired conjunction is followed by the noun (mangoes), and the second part is followed by the verb (studying).

Punctuating Comma between Correlative Conjunctions

Generally speaking, we don’t use a comma between pairs of correlative conjunctions, but we have some exceptional cases.

When a comma is used for another grammatical rule in a sentence, we can use it. In the below example, the commas are used to offset the nonrestrictive clause.

  • Neither the job as a lawyer, which paid me a lot, nor the job as a bank manager made me satisfied.


Commas can also be used to separate pairs of correlative conjunctions when the comma is used to separate two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction.

  • The principal not only allowed me, but he also promised to assist me.

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