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Correlative Conjunctions

What is a correlative conjunction?

As suggested by their name, correlative conjunctions correlate, working in pairs to join phrases or words that carry equal importance within a sentence. Like many of the most interesting parts of speech, correlative conjunctions are fun to use. At the same time, there are some important rules to remember for using them correctly.

  • When using correlative conjunctions, ensure verbs agree so your sentences make sense. For example: Every night, either loud music or fighting neighbors wake John from his sleep.
  • When you use a correlative conjunction, you must be sure that pronouns agree. For example: Neither Debra nor Sally expressed her annoyance when the cat broke the antique lamp.
  • When using correlative conjunctions, be sure to keep parallel structure intact. Equal grammatical units need to be incorporated into the entire sentence. For example: Not only did Mary grill burgers for Michael, but she also fixed a steak for her dog, Vinny.

Examples of Correlative Conjunctions

In the following examples, the correlative conjunctions have been italicized for easy identification.

  1. She is both intelligent and beautiful.
  2. I will either go for a hike or stay home and watch TV.
  3. Jerry is neither rich nor famous.
  4. He is not only intelligent, but also very funny.
  5. Would you rather go shopping or spend the day at the beach?