Correlative Conjunctions – Examples

We all know that there are various parts of speech in English grammar. Each has unique functions that help us form complete, smooth, and meaningful sentences. Conjunctions are one such part of speech that are amongst the most commonly used and important ones.

So, what is a conjunction? By definition, we can simply say that conjunctions are the words that help connect other words in a sentence together. In short, they work as a linkage between two parts. However, these words can be studied under three broad divisions of conjunctions, coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and correlative conjunctions.

In this post, our focus is the final type, the correlative conjunction. And if you are already well acquainted with the other two types of conjunctions, then this won’t be much of a trouble for you. Simply put, correlative conjunctions are the type of conjunctions that comes in pairs and function as separate compounds to join two equally important parts of a sentence.

There are several rules and factors that we need to be aware of while using correlative conjunctions. Refer to the explanations down below to know them all.

What are Correlative Conjunctions?

In a general sense, correlative conjunctions are the type of conjunction that appear as pair of words with corresponding meanings to correlate two equally significant clauses into a single thought. The conjunction gets its name from the fact that they are two words working together to relate one part of the sentence to the other.

In simple words, we can say that correlative conjunctions are the separable pair of words that function as separate compounds to coordinate or link two clauses or phrases of equal importance together. They usually connect two singular subjects with a singular verb and two plural subjects with a plural verb. That means they generally bring the relation between two subjects and two verbs that are in partnership with each other.

So, unlike the other two types of conjunction that have a particular word balancing a sentence, correlative conjunctions are a tag-team kind of conjunctions that work in different places in a sentence to provide meaning to it.

After learning the definition, you can automatically guess what we are talking about. We are referring to the pair of words such as both…and, either…or, neither…nor. Not only…but also, not…but, etc.

Now, let us look at some sentence examples to have a better understanding:

1. Either………or: Such a conjunction is used to link two positive statements of equal importance.

  • You can have either the cake or the chocolate today.
  • You can wear either a saree or a suit that you have recently bought.

2. Neither………nor: This is a kind of conjunction used to link two negative sentences of equal weight.

  • You will neither get good grades nor will you pass in this condition.
  • He is neither a teacher nor a working staff of this school.

3. Not only……….but also:

  • Not only do I love dancing, but I also love teaching dance to other people.

4. Both……….and: Such a pair indicates that the two subjects are performing the same action.

  • We have both given the remaining exams and passed our internals.

5. Whether……….or: This is a kind of conjunction that connects two possible actions of a subject.

  • He wasn’t sure whether to attend the party or not.

6. Rather……….than: This kind of conjunction indicates a subject’s preference of a thing over another.

  • I would rather die than stay at your house.

As we can see, all the pairs are used in different places of the sentence to connect and bring together two parts of a sentence. Further, it is important to notice that each pair is correlating under different contexts to give the sentences different meanings every time.

Rules of correlative conjunctions

• Always maintain the subject-verb agreement: While using correlative conjunction, it is always important to maintain a subject-verb agreement. By this, we mean that the verb must agree with the second subject of the sentence. Singular subjects must have singular verbs, and plural subjects must have plural verbs.

And in the case of a sentence with multiple subjects, the verb must agree to the subject closest to it.

• Ensure the pronoun agreement: Another important rule while using correlative conjunction is that there should be pronoun agreement in the sentence. Similar to subject-verb agreement, the pronouns in the sentence must also match the verbs when we use correlative conjunction.

For instance, “He hates vegetables”. Here, the pronoun is in agreement with the verb. But if it would have been “He hate vegetables,” it would be grammatically incorrect. However, when we use correlative conjunction that has two antecedents before it, it is important for the conjunction to have an agreement with the second antecedent.

• The sentence must have a parallel structure: Having parallelism is another important rule while using correlative conjunctions. Parallelism deals with the basic grammatical form. It is needed in the grammatical structure to track the subjects. So, the parts of the sentences, while using correlative conjunction, must be grammatically equal.

For instance, if we make a sentence, “I not only love playing but also love writing.” Here, the verbs dancing and singing are parallel, so the sentence is grammatically correct.

• Correct usage of a comma in the sentence: Whenever we use correlative conjunction in a sentence, it is important to make sure that we use a comma only to separate two independent clauses and not the conjunctions. That means commas are relevant only when are trying to separate two independent clauses. The pair of correlative conjunction does not require any comma.

For instance, it is correct to write, “Neither you nor I should be going to the party tonight.” If we use unnecessary commas such as, “Neither you, nor I should go.” It will stand grammatically incorrect.

• Avoid double negatives: Some correlative conjunctions such as neither/nor is already a negative connotation. So, it is important to avoid any further uses of negative verb phrases in such sentences.

For instance, “I can neither sing nor dance” is a correct sentence. However, if we say “I can’t neither write nor read”, it will be grammatically incorrect.

So, these are the basic rules that one needs to keep in mind in order to make correct use of correlative conjunctions in a sentence.

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