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Correlative Conjunctions






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Correlative Conjunctions: Unlocking the Power of Paired Words

Comprehensive Definition, Description, Examples & Rules 

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What are correlative conjunctions?

Correlative conjunctions are words or groups of words that connect two independent clauses. They help to link the two sentences in a way that makes them flow better.

Correlative conjunctions are used to connect two independent clauses with a word or word group that connects them:

  • and/or
  • but not (but)
  • either/or , etc.

Correlative conjunctions vary in their purpose, but they all connect sentences that have equal importance. For example, in the sentence “The sun is shining,” we could say “and” or “but.” The first one connects two clauses and makes them equal in meaning; the second one only connects them logically speaking (but not grammatically speaking).

Purpose and usage of correlative conjunctions in sentences

A Correlative conjunction can be either coordinating or subordinating, depending on whether they connect the first and last parts of a sentence (coordinating) or if one part is dependent on the other (subordinating).

Correlative conjunction examples:

  • John is an expert at solving puzzles, so he quickly solved this one too.
  • We’ll have lunch at noon tomorrow if it’s not raining outside right now!
  • If you leave early, you’ll catch up with me before we go into town later today!

They can be put together in various ways and have different meanings depending on how they’re used.

For example:

  • The book that I read has a lot of pictures in it. (The book is the subject of the sentence; it has something to do with what is being talked about.)
  • In my opinion, you should go home when your shift ends because your parents will worry about you if you leave work late again tonight. (In this sentence we’re talking about someone else’s opinion—not ours.)

Types of conjunctions

Not Only But Also:

The conjunction “not only but also” is used to connect two thoughts that are of equal weight. It is used to convey the truth of two propositions and highlights the significance of each. It can be utilized to mix several grammatical constructions, including verbs, adjectives, and nouns.

Let’s look at some of the examples to understand the construction of not only but also grammar:

  • Not only did he pass the exams, but he also got the internship.
  • Not only did she finish her project on time, but she also received an A.

  • He is not only a great musician but also an excellent writer.

  • The company is not only expanding its operations but also investing in new technology.

  • She not only sings beautifully but also plays several instruments.


“either…or” is used to provide two options. When two elements cannot both be true at the same time, it is utilized to link them together.

Using “either…or” in sentences: “Either…or” is used to present two possibilities that are mutually exclusive. It comes before both of the other two options. For instance:

  • Either you finish your homework, or you don’t get to watch TV.

Examples of “either…or” in various contexts:

  • Either he tells the truth, or he will be in trouble.

  • You can either save your money or spend it all on vacation.

  • The restaurant serves either vegetarian or non-vegetarian food.

Neither… Nor

“neither…nor” is used to communicate negation, or the lack of something. It is employed to link two negative concepts or to provide two negative alternatives.

Use of “neither…nor” and where it is placed in sentences: “Neither…nor” is used to present two unfavorable possibilities. It comes before each of the two unfavorable options. For instance:

  • He neither understands nor cares about the consequences of his actions.
  • The company neither increased its sales nor improved its customer service.

Examples of “neither…nor” in various contexts:

  • She neither eats meat nor dairy products.

  • The movie was neither entertaining nor informative.

  • The car neither starts nor runs smoothly.

  • The politician neither kept his promises nor delivered on his commitments.


“Both…and” connects two components that are both true or both present. It is a correlative conjunction. It serves to highlight the significance of both concepts.

Placement and use of “both…and” in sentences: “Both…and” is used to link two uplifting concepts. It comes before each of the other two components. For instance:

  • She is both intelligent and kind.

  • The new car is both fast and fuel-efficient.

  • The book is both informative and entertaining.

Examples of “both…and” in various contexts:

  • The singer is both talented and charismatic.
  • The project is both innovative and practical.


When presenting two options, the correlative conjunction “whether…or” is used. It is used to indicate a decision between two options.

When presenting two options, “whether…or” is used to indicate where to position it in a phrase. It comes before both of the other two options. For instance:

  • We have to decide whether to go to the beach or the mountains.

  • You have to choose whether to take the job or wait for a better opportunity.

Examples of “whether…or” in various contexts:

  • Whether you walk or run, you will reach the finish line.

  • We have to decide whether to buy a new car or repair the old one.

  • You have to choose whether to stay in or go out tonight.

Not Only But:

Similar to “not only but also,” the phrase “not only but” is used to link two ideas without the second idea being a full sentence. It is employed to highlight the significance of the initial item and to include a connected item. 

Examples of “not only but” in comparison to “not only but also”:

  • Not only did she win the award, but she also received a scholarship. (Not only…but also)

  • Not only did she win the award, but she also thanked her supporters. (Not only…but)

  • The company is not only profitable but also innovative. (Not only…but also)

  • The company is not only profitable but also investing in research and development. (Not only…but)

Common Mistakes with Correlative Conjunctions

  1. Correlative conjunctions used in the wrong order: It’s crucial to utilize the correlative conjunctions in the right order. For instance, it is always proper to use “not only but also” in that order, and “either or” should never be changed to “or either.”

  2. Using the incorrect correlative conjunction: To convey the required idea, it’s crucial to use the proper correlative conjunction. Examples include the distinction between “whether or not” and “either or,” as well as “not only but also” and “neither nor.”
  1. Using a correlative conjunction without completing the pair: Whenever a correlative conjunction is used, it’s crucial to make sure the pair is whole. For instance, “not only” should always be followed by “but also,” and “neither” should always be followed by “nor.”

Tips and Tricks for Avoiding Mistakes and Using Correlative Conjunctions correctly

  1. Practice with examples: It can be beneficial to practice with examples and pay attention to how they are used in context in order to feel comfortable utilizing correlative conjunctions.

  2. Recall the order: It can be helpful to learn the proper order for each correlative conjunction to prevent confusion with the order.

  3. Understand the meaning: It’s crucial to comprehend the intended meaning of the sentence in order to select the appropriate correlative conjunction. Choose the conjunction that best conveys the idea by carefully weighing the two options that are being offered

  4. Use a comma: It’s crucial to place a comma before a correlative conjunction when joining two independent clauses. This makes the connection between the two clauses more clear.

  5. Be Concise: Correlative conjunctions can be an effective approach to communicate the connection between two ideas, but it’s vital to use them sparingly. Correlative conjunction overuse can result in monotonous, unnatural writing.
Correlative Conjunctions Infographics

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Key Takeaways

  1. Two independent clauses are linked together by a correlative conjunction, which helps sentences flow better.

  2. They employ words or word groupings like “and/or,” “but not,” “either/or,” and more to join two independent clauses.

  3. Depending on whether they link the first and last elements of a phrase or if one component is dependent on the other, correlative conjunctions can be coordinating or subordinating.

  4. “Not only…but also,” “either…or,” “neither…nor,” “both…and,” and “whether…or” are a few examples of correlative conjunctions.

  5. The usage of correlative conjunctions can join words, phrases, and dependent clauses.

  6. Correlative conjunctions must be used in the appropriate order, and typical errors such choosing the incorrect conjunction or failing to complete the pair must be avoided.

  7. Correlative conjunction usage guidelines include using examples to practice, remembering the order, comprehending the meaning, using commas, and being succinct.

  8. Common errors to avoid include not completing the pair, using the improper conjunctions, and employing the correlative conjunctions in the wrong order.

  9. Answers to frequently asked questions concerning correlative conjunctions can be found in FAQs, which also cover topics like exceptions, practice activities, and pairing correlative conjunctions with coordinating conjunctions.

  10. Correlative conjunction understanding and knowledge are tested by the multiple-choice questions on the worksheet at the end of the text.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common mistakes to avoid when using correlative conjunctions?

When using correlative conjunctions, common mistakes to avoid include messing up the conjunctions’ order, selecting the incorrect conjunction, and failing to complete the pair.

Are there any exceptions to the rule of using correlative conjunctions?

There are no exceptions to the rule that correlative conjunctions must be used, but it’s crucial to keep in mind that they aren’t always necessary and can occasionally be skipped to improve the flow of the sentence.

How do I know which correlative conjunction to use in a sentence?

Consider the meaning of the two alternatives and select the conjunction that best conveys it when deciding which correlative conjunction to employ in a phrase.

Are there any exercises or activities I can do to practice using correlative conjunctions?

To practice using correlative conjunctions, there are various exercises and activities available, such as completing sentences with the proper conjunction or determining the proper conjunction in a given sentence. The correlative conjunctions worksheet on Edulyte is a fantastic tool for learning and understanding these conjunctions.

What are some other common correlative conjunctions examples used in day-to-day life?

Below are some common examples that are used in day-today spoken English. 

  • Such…that: It was such a beautiful day that we decided to go for a picnic.
  • No sooner…than: No sooner did he arrive than the party started.
  • Scarcely…when: Scarcely had they left when it started raining.
  • Rather…than: She would prefer to stay home rather than go to the party.
  • As…as: He is as tall as his father.
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