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Correlative conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are pairs of conjunctions that correlate with one another to join words or phrases together that have more or less equal importance within the sentence.

Remember, correlative conjunctions are sort of like ‘combos’. They come in pairs, and they need to be in pairs to work, but are split up or divided in the sentence.

Typical correlative conjunctions are: neither…nor, either…or, both…and, not only…but also, just as…so, not only…but, whether…or etc.

Below, we’re going to elaborate and delve into the most common correlative conjunctions as cited above.

Neither…nor: we use this correlative conjunction to negate equal things or people of equal importance from the same person or thing

‘Nor’ is the negative form of ‘or’.

  • They neither gave me my money back nor bothered to notify me.
  • They neither supported us nor told us anything.

Either…or: we use this combination to suggest two options or a choice between two options 

  • Either you leave our home or we call the police.
  • Either I find the right bus to get home or we catch a taxi.
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Both…and: we use this combination to give two things or people equal importance 

  • Both my sister and I are really happy with the service we received.
  • Both the coffee and tea were far too sweet for my liking.

Not only…but also: we this combination to insert additional elements to the sentence

Auxiliary inversion’ can also be used with this combination. Examples below.

  • He not only passed his exam but he also achieved it with excellence.
  • Not only did he finish the race in great style but he also beat the record by three minutes. (auxiliary inversion)
  • Not only have we finished our meeting with success but we also secured more business contacts.

Just as…so: we use this combination to show a resemblance between two things or people

Mainly used to show the correspondence between two objects or people. 

  • Just as she hates getting stuck in traffic so does her brother.
  • Just as we love mountain biking so do our parents.

Not only…but: very similar to ‘not only…but also’ in that it shows additional information

Here, ‘also’ has been omitted for less emphasis. Also, ‘auxiliary inversion’ can also be used. 

  • Not only can we catch the train now, but we’ll arrive within two hours (auxiliary inversion).
  • He not only found his keys, but he managed to arrive at the meeting on time.

Whether…or: we use this combination to show two different options in a sentence

The two options can be in the form of negation or confirmation. 

  • Whether you want to go to the party or have an easy night tonight is fine with me.
  • Whether we go to the cinema or locate a library to study, it doesn’t matter to me.

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