Correlative Conjunctions


When the correlatives either—or, neither—nor, both—and, not only—but also are used, you must see that they are placed before words of the same part of speech.

Read the sentence given below.

The car either dashed against a dog or a goat. (verb-noun)

This is a bad construction because either is followed by a verb (dashed) and or is followed by a noun (goat). It has to be rewritten as:

The car dashed against either a dog or a goat. (noun-noun)

Another example is given below.

Neither he would eat nor allow us to eat. (noun-verb)

This is an incorrect construction because here neither is followed by a pronoun (he) and nor is followed by a verb (allow). The sentence needs to be rewritten as:

  • He would neither eat nor allow us to eat. (verb-verb)

More examples are given below.

  • Incorrect: Neither he smokes nor drinks. (noun-verb)
  • Correct: He neither smokes nor drinks. (verb-verb)
  • Incorrect: She sings not only well but also plays many musical instruments. (adverb – verb)
  • Correct: She not only sings well but also plays many musical instruments. (verb-verb)
  • Incorrect: She is not only a great singer but also writes amazing stories.
  • Correct: She is not only a great singer but also an amazing writer. OR She not only sings well, but also writes amazing stories.