Correlative Conjunctions


Some conjunctions are used in pairs. They are called correlative conjunctions. Most of these are of the coordinating type.

Either … or

We use either…. or to talk about a choice between two possibilities (and sometimes more than two).

Neither … nor

We use neither … nor to join two negative ideas. It is the opposite of both … and. Sometimes more than two ideas are connected by neither … nor.

Not only … but also

Also is often omitted.

Note that in informal English not onlyÖbut also is not very common; other structures are generally preferred.

Not … but

Whether … or

Both … and

As/so … as

So … that

Such … that

Such … as

Note that it is wrong to use that instead of as in these sentence




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.