What Is a Correlative Conjunction? (2023)

Correlative conjunctions are one of the three types of conjunctions. (The others are subordinating conjunctions and coordinating conjunctions. More on them in a minute.) Like all conjunctions, correlative conjunctions link words and phrases together in sentences, indicating the relationship (and in some cases, the lack of relationship) between them.

You use correlative conjunctions in your speech all the time. If you’ve ever said something like “I could play either soccer or basketball next season,” you’ve used correlative conjunctions. In your writing, correlative conjunctions are a handy tool to make your sentences stronger and more clear.

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What is a correlative conjunction?

Correlative conjunctions are conjunctions used to illustrate how two words or phrases within a sentence relate to each other. Correlative conjunctions always come in pairs.

Though they can illustrate a correlation between the two words or phrases, they don’t necessarily have to. In many cases, the words or phrases linked by a correlative conjunction can be discussed independently of one another. In these cases, joining them with a correlative conjunction makes your writing more concise and emphasizes that the two things being discussed happen in close succession, at the same time, or as a result of the same cause, or that they’re both distinct possibilities or outcomes of a shared cause or starting point.

Take a look at these sentences that use correlative conjunctions:

We could either hike up the mountain or swim in the lake this afternoon.

Whether you bike or drive to work, you’ll need to show your parking pass.

Not only did my boyfriend buy me a Nintendo Switch, but he also bought me a bunch of games!

(Video) Correlative conjunctions | The parts of speech | Grammar | Khan Academy

Before we go deeper into correlative conjunctions, let’s do a quick refresher on conjunctions as a part of speech. Conjunctions are words that link phrases, clauses, and words together in sentences. Words like and and but are conjunctions. When you use a conjunction in a sentence, the words or phrases it links need to have parallel structures. Here’s an example of a conjunction at work:

She drives slowly and cautiously.

“She drives slow and cautiously” is incorrect, as are “She drives slowly and cautious” and “She drives slow and cautious.” In this example, the adverbs “slowly” and “cautiously” both describe the verb “drives,” and the conjunction and links them together to give the reader the full picture: The subject (“she”) doesn’t just drive, but drives at a low speed and in a cautious manner.

And can be a correlative conjunction when it’s paired with another conjunction like both. Take a look at this example:

Both my cat and my dog like bacon-flavored treats.

Like socks, correlative conjunctions always come in pairs. That’s their defining characteristic; if a conjunction doesn’t need a partner for its sentence to make sense, it’s not a correlative conjunction. The most common correlative conjunction pairs include:

  • either/or
  • neither/nor
  • such/that
  • whether/or
  • not only/but also
  • both/and
  • as many/as
  • no sooner/than
  • rather/than

Let’s take a look at a few example sentences:

Either you’re with me or you’re against me.

Such is the intensity of the pollen outside that I can’t leave the house.

My parents went to both Hawaii and Bali last year.

She would no sooner cheat on an exam than falsify her credentials.

They would rather go to the movies than the mall.

What does a correlative conjunction do?

Correlative conjunctions create pairs of equal elements. By elements, we mean words and phrases within a sentence that are the same part of speech or serve the same function. This could mean two nouns, two adjectives, two verbs, or two of the same kind of phrase. Here are a few examples of correlative conjunctions in sentences:

(Video) ESL - Correlative Conjunctions

Because of the bad weather, the class missed both their history and English exams.

They not only ate all the donuts but also drank all the coffee.

I wasn’t sure whether the play was disjointed or avant-garde.

Correlative conjunctions are just one type of conjunction. The other types are subordinating conjunctions and coordinating conjunctions.

Coordinating conjunctions are words that join two elements of equal grammatical rank and syntactic importance. They can join two verbs, two nouns, two adjectives, two phrases, or two independent clauses. In our example above, the word and acts as a coordinating conjunction. When most people think of conjunctions, they think of coordinating conjunctions. The seven coordinating conjunctions can be remembered by using the acronym FANBOYS:

  • for
  • and
  • nor
  • but
  • or
  • yet
  • so

Subordinating conjunctions are conjunctions that link independent clauses to dependent clauses. By doing this, the subordinating conjunction demonstrates the relationship between the clauses, which is often a cause-and-effect relationship or a contrast. Here’s a quick example:

He was late to work because there was traffic.

Common subordinating conjunctions include:

  • because
  • since
  • while
  • whereas
  • though
  • although
  • as

When should you use correlative conjunctions?

Use correlative conjunctions when you have two distinct yet connected concepts in a sentence. If you and your roommate both tend to wake up early, an efficient sentence to communicate this is “Both my roommate and I wake up early.”

Correlative conjunctions can be helpful in transition sentences. Here’s an example of a short paragraph featuring a transition sentence:

I wasn’t hired at any of the companies I’d applied to. Neither my experience nor my skill set seemed to impress the interviewers. So I’m going to explore opportunities in a completely different field.

You can remove the second sentence and the paragraph will still make sense. However, that middle sentence adds detail and context. Here’s another example of correlative conjunctions in a transition sentence:

My goal is to earn a PhD. Whether I get into my dream school or I get accepted somewhere else, that’s my plan. After that, who knows what I’ll do?

(Video) Learn About Correlative Conjunctions

When you’re using correlative conjunctions, subject-verb agreement is a must. All this means is that the verb in the sentence is conjugated to match the noun or pronoun that is its subject. Take a look at this example:

Either Reyna pushes the button or Abed pushes it.

Either Reyna push the button or Abed pushed it.

How to use correlative conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions always come in pairs. Many of these words can be used without their correlative partners, and when this is the case, the word isn’t acting as a correlative conjunction. Here’s an example:

She was such an amazing cook.

In this sentence, the word “such” is an adverb because it’s modifying the adjective “amazing” by amplifying it. But the word “such” can also be a correlative conjunction—when it’s paired with the word “that.”

She was such an amazing cook that she won over even the pickiest eaters.

See how the pair of correlative conjunctions demonstrates the cause and effect in this sentence? You can also split the sentence in two:

She was such an amazing cook. She won over even the pickiest eaters.

(Video) (ENGLISH) What is a Correlative Conjunction? | #iQuestionPH

We can infer the cause and effect here, but linking these sentences with correlative conjunctions makes the relationship between her cooking and her picky eater–converting skills clear.

Take a look at more example sentences that contain correlative conjunctions:

My brother is either playing video games or writing music on his PC.

We received neither the package nor the invoice.

Jenna not only plays the violin, but also sings professionally.

We invited both the Rodriguezes and the Losapios to dinner.

There were as many applicants as there were seats in the program.

I could no sooner answer him than he called me back.

The kids would rather eat ramen than scrambled eggs.

Every single one of these sentences can be reworded to remove the correlative conjunctions and still make sense, but they might get longer or lose some clarity. For example, we can rework the last example to “The kids would eat scrambled eggs, but would prefer ramen.” No meaning is lost, but the version with the correlative conjunctions emphasizes the kids’ preference for ramen by placing it ahead of the scrambled eggs.

Correlative conjunction FAQs

What is a correlative conjunction?

Correlative conjunctions are pairs of conjunctions that connect words or phrases that are the same part of speech or serve the same function within a sentence.

How are correlative conjunctions used?

Correlative conjunctions are used to make writing flow more easily, reduce redundancy, and make the relationship between equal words or phrases within a sentence clear. Although they can be used to allude to cause-and-effect relationships, they don’t have to be. Compare these two sentences:

  • Correlative conjunction: She was such an amazing cook that she won over even the pickiest eaters.
  • Subordinating conjunction: She was such an amazing cook because she won over even the pickiest eaters.

What are common correlative conjunction pairs?

  • either/or
  • neither/nor
  • such/that
  • whether/or
  • not only/but also
  • both/and
  • as many/as
  • no sooner/than
  • rather/than

Communicate with confidence

When you need to show the relationship between two equal elements in a sentence, use a pair of correlative conjunctions. When you need to double-check your work to see if you missed any grammatical mistakes or if your tone isn’t quite what you wanted, run it through Grammarly. Our writing assistance tool catches mistakes and detects the tones in your work, then offers suggestions to make your writing even stronger.

(Video) How to Use CORRELATIVE CONJUNCTIONS: ESL Grammar Lesson with Examples

FAQs

What is correlative conjunction and examples? ›

Definition of a Correlative Conjunction

“Two words that are correlative are often used together but not usually used next to each other. For example, 'either' and 'or' are correlative conjunctions”, says the Macmillan Dictionary.

What are correlative conjunctions 8? ›

Those conjunctions that are used in pairs to connect two words, phrases or sentences are known as correlative conjunctions.

What is correlative conjunctions for kids? ›

Correlative conjunctions are when a pair of conjunctions relate to and support each other in a sentence. They connect words and phrases that are equally important in the sentence.

What are the 7 correlative conjunctions? ›

The most common correlative conjunction pairs include:
  • either/or.
  • neither/nor.
  • such/that.
  • whether/or.
  • not only/but also.
  • both/and.
  • as many/as.
  • no sooner/than.
2 Jun 2022

What are the 10 examples of coordinating conjunctions? ›

Examples of Coordinating Conjunctions
  • Alex stood first and got a prize.
  • Robin and Russel went the beach.
  • Sleep now or you will miss the class tomorrow.
  • Robin did not try hard so he did not succeed.
  • He is sad but not broken.
  • Rita, as well as Shaun, came here yesterday.
  • Shaun played well still he lost.

What are the 3 main conjunctions? ›

Depending on the type of conjunction, they may connect independent clauses (clauses that function as complete sentences) or dependent clauses (clauses that cannot stand as a full sentence). There are three distinct types of conjunctions used in sentences: coordinating, subordinating, and correlative.

How many correlative conjunctions are there in English? ›

The correlative conjunctions are either...or, neither... nor, both...and, not only...but also, whether...or.

How do you teach correlative conjunctions? ›

Teach students that correlative conjunctions should only join words and phrases of equal weight. In other words, the words or phrases that follow the correlative conjunctions should have similar grammatical structures.

How do you use correlative in a sentence? ›

Example Sentences

a doctor's duties and a patient's correlative rights As demand increases, we'll see a correlative increase in price.

Can you start a sentence with a correlative conjunction? ›

Many major style guides agree that starting a sentence with a conjunction is acceptable. A conjunction is a word that connects words, phrases, or clauses to each other. Starting a sentence with a conjunction is acceptable.

What are the 50 conjunctions? ›

50 Conjunction Sentences
AndAfter
AlthoughAs for as
As long asAs soon as
ButBecause
BothBefore
12 more rows

What are the 12 conjunctions? ›

There are many subordinating conjunctions but the most common are: after, although, as, as if, because, before, how, if, since, than, though, unless, until, when, where and while.

What are the 5 most common conjunctions? ›

The most common coordinating conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so; you can remember them by using the mnemonic device FANBOYS.

What are 30 conjunctions? ›

I went to bed at 10 pm as I had a plane to catch at 7 am. She talks as if he was rich. You can go as long as you are good. I hate broccoli as much as I hate cauliflower. As soon as I went to home, I started to work.

What are the 15 subordinating conjunctions? ›

The most common subordinate conjunctions in the English language include: than, rather than, whether, as much as, whereas, that, whatever, which, whichever, after, as soon as, as long as, before, by the time, now that, once, since, till, until, when, whenever, while, though, although, even though, who, whoever, whom, ...

What are the 14 subordinating conjunctions? ›

Subordinate clauses can be identified by the presence of subordinating conjunctions (for example: although, as, after, since, before, unless, until, when, while, if, because) or of relative pronouns (who, whom, whoever, whomever, whose, that, which).

What are 8 examples of subordinating conjunctions? ›

As long as, because, even if, if, unless, before, since, though, even though, although, while, etc. are some examples of subordinating conjunctions.

What are 6 common conjunctions? ›

This type of conjunction is used to connect items that are grammatically equal: two words, two phrases, or two independent clauses. There are seven coordinating conjunctions in English, and you can remember them using the mnemonic device FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

What is the difference between correlative and coordinating conjunctions? ›

Coordinating conjunctions connect two or more independent sentences by means of the conjunctions “and,” “but,” & “or. “ Correlative conjunctions connect two independent clauses in a sentence by means of the conjunctions “either …….. or” or “neither…….. nor.”

What are the rules of conjunctions? ›

Rules for Using Conjunctions
  • A conjunction is a word that joins words, phrases, or clauses. ...
  • Coordinating conjunctions join words, phrases, and clauses that are of equal value or meaning. ...
  • Subordinating conjunctions join a subordinate clause to a main clause.

How do you identify a correlative conjunction? ›

Correlative conjunctions include pairs such as “both/and,” “either/or,” “neither/nor,” “not/but” and “not only/but also.” For example: either/or - I want either the cheesecake or the chocolate cake. both/and - We'll have both the cheesecake and the chocolate cake.

Why is it called correlative conjunction? ›

Often, conjunctions take on the job of connecting parts of speech, and they do this all by themselves. However, some conjunctions love to team up and work together to form connections. These conjunctions are called correlative conjunctions.

Why do we use correlative conjunctions? ›

Correlative Conjunctions are pairs of words used to connect two parts of a sentence with equal value. Correlative Conjunctions must ensure proper verb and subject agreement, as well as a parallel structure.

What are 10 examples of subordinating conjunctions? ›

As long as, because, even if, if, unless, before, since, though, even though, although, while, etc. are some examples of subordinating conjunctions.

What is conjunction with all example? ›

A word or group of words that connect two or more words, clauses, phrases or sentences are called conjunctions. Conjunctions are called joining words. Conjunction Examples – She is good at both cooking and dancing. If we leave now, we can be home by 11 p.m.

What are 50 examples of conjunctions? ›

50 Conjunction Sentences
AndAfter
AlthoughAs for as
As long asAs soon as
ButBecause
BothBefore
12 more rows

What are the rules of correlative conjunction? ›

Correlative conjunctions work in pairs to correlate two parts of a sentence of equal importance. Correlative conjunctions often connect two singular subjects with a singular verb, or two plural subjects with a plural verb. They apply a relation between two subjects or two verbs that act in tandem with each other.

What are the 3 most common conjunctions? ›

There are three basic types of conjunctions: coordinating, subordinating, and correlative.

What are the 12 most common subordinating conjunctions? ›

There are many subordinating conjunctions but the most common are: after, although, as, as if, because, before, how, if, since, than, though, unless, until, when, where and while.

What are 5 examples of conjunctions? ›

Examples of Conjunctions
  • I tried to hit the nail but hit my thumb instead.
  • I have two goldfish and a cat.
  • I bought a new bag for my upcoming trip.
  • You can have peach ice cream or a brownie sundae.
  • Neither the black dress nor the gray one looks right on me.

Can you give me a list of conjunctions? ›

Here's the coordinating conjunction list:
  • F – for.
  • A – and.
  • N – nor.
  • B – but.
  • O – or.
  • Y – yet.
  • S – so.

Videos

1. English Grammar: Correlative Conjunctions (NEITHER & NOR, EITHER & OR, BOTH & AND...)
(ENGLISH with James · engVid)
2. Lesson on CORRELATIVE CONJUNCTIONS (Both...and, either...or, neither...nor)
(Englishing)
3. Types of Conjunctions in English 3 - Correlative Conjunctions
(Education Mania)
4. Correlative Conjunctions Song by Melissa | Award Winning Correlative Conjunction Educational Song
(GrammarSongs by Melissa)
5. Correlative Conjunctions | English Grammar | iKen | iKen Edu | iKen App
(Iken Edu)
6. How To Learn Correlative Conjunctions American English
(American English)
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