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Correlative Conjunctions
Correlative conjunctions can provide the attention-getting contrasts that
provide emphasis and connect two parts of a sentence. They are not used
adjacent to each other. The conjunctions, which are used in pairs to
correlate phrases or clauses within a sentence, include either-or, neithernor, whether-or, not only-but also, such-that, as-as, scarcely-when, ratherthan, as many-as and both-and. The second of the pair is always a
coordinating conjunction, which is used to connect independent clauses.
Uses of Correlative Conjunctions:
To connect nouns:
Summer school is not easy but difficult.
Both trees and flowers grow colorfully during summer.
To connect adjectives:
Summer camp offers not only swimming but also camping instruction.
Kids enjoy both wet and dry sports.
To connect prepositional phrases:
I'll take my vacation either in July or in August.
Most students are neither below nor above national academic standards.
To connect independent clauses:
Not only do students enjoy summer vacation, but they also enjoy
Christmas break.
(Note: In the above example “they” was put in between the conjunction.)
Whether teachers are happy or they are sad, all are dedicated to student's
Usually, a correlative conjunction does little to emphasize one phrase
over another, as in these two examples:
I want either the cheesecake or the frozen hot chocolate.
The doctor said that both green leafy vegetables and sweet desserts
have a legitimate place in the average diet.
At most, the phrases may naturally contrast with each other, as in
these examples:
The cat, purring contentedly, was neither thirsty nor hungry.
Not only the young girl but also the old man had a great time at the
ice-skating competition.
Here are some more general pairs and examples of correlative
as/as - Bowling isn’t as fun as skeet shooting.
such/that - Such was the nature of their relationship that they never
would have made it even if they’d wanted to.
scarcely/when - I had scarcely walked in the door when I got the call
and had to run right back out again.
as many/as - There are as many curtains as there are windows.
no sooner/than - I’d no sooner lie to you than strangle a puppy.
rather/than - She’d rather play the drums than sing.
both/and - I’ll have both the cheesecake and the hot chocolate.
The writer, though, can create contrast with the addition of extracontrastive markers, such as words of extra emphasis (too, even,
else) and/or altered word order:
Not only did the young girl have a great time at the ice-skating competition,
but the old man did too.
The doctor said that both green leafy vegetables and less nutritious foods,
even sweet desserts, have a legitimate place in the average diet.
When using correlative conjunctions, be careful about verb
agreement, pronoun agreement and parallel structure. Your writing
will be more effective if you use parallel structures after both parts of
the correlative conjunction.