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Correlative Conjunction

Learn About the 3 Instances to Use Correlative Conjunctions

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 John Millar   July 19, 2022  Student Guide

Correlative Conjunction

Students use correlative conjunctions every day while chatting or giving a speech. However, when asked to use it in their writing, they become perplexed, confused, and have a cold foot to use it appropriately. The primary reason is the lack of knowledge and vivid examples to point out the specific sections of the texts termed correlative conjunction.

If you are among these students, you have just landed at the right place. By the end of the reading, you will have a clear idea of how to use correlative conjunctions correctly.

However, before that, let me clear the concept – what is correlative conjunction?

What is a Correlative Conjunction?

The best correlative conjunctions definition would be that conjunctions are used to illustrate how two words or phrases within a sentence relate to each other. Correlative conjunctions always come in pairs.

Though these sets of words 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 correlative conjunction can be discussed independently of one another.

Here, joining them with correlative conjunction makes your writing more concise. Moreover, it emphasizes that the two things being discussed happen in close succession, simultaneously, or as a result of the exact cause, or that they are both distinct possibilities and outcomes of a shared cause or starting point. 

Do you know what type of conjunction always comes in pairs? When you use a conjunction in a sentence, the words or phrases it links need to have parallel structures. Like shoes, correlative conjunctions always come in pairs.

It defines their characteristic; if a conjunction doesn’t need a partner for its sentence to make sense, it's not correlative conjunction.

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Here is a correlative conjunctions list:

  • whether/or
  • not only/but also
  • both/and
  • as many/as
  • rather/than

Let’s take a look at the other significant four correlative conjunctions:

  1. Either/or- Either you are with me or against me.
  2. Such/that- Such is the intensity of the pollen outside that I can’t leave the house.
  3. Both/and- My parents went to both Hawaii and Bali last year.
  4. No sooner/than- She would no sooner cheat on an exam than falsify her credentials.

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What Does a Correlative Conjunction Do?

Correlative conjunctions form pairs of equal elements. Elements mean the words and phrases within a sentence encased in the same part of speech or serve the same function. Correlative conjunctions can be nouns, two adjectives, two verbs, or two of the same kind of phrase.

Here are a few correlative conjunctions examples in sentences:

  • 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.

Must Read: Research Paper Outline

When Should You Use Correlative Conjunctions?

Use correlative conjunctions when you need:

  1. Two distinct yet connected concepts in a sentence

Example: If you and your roommate both wake up early an efficient sentence to communicate the activity is: “Both my roommate and I wake up early”.

  1. A transitional sentence

Here is 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 make sense. However, that middle sentence adds detail and context.

  1. To agree on the subject and the verb

When you use correlative conjunctions, subject-verb agreement is a must. It means that the verb in the sentence is conjugated to match the noun or pronoun that is its subject:

Either Reyna pushes the button or Abed pushes it.

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How to Use Correlative Conjunctions?

Unlike coordinating and subordinating 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 term is not acting as correlative conjunction.

Here's an example:

She was such a fantastic cook.

The word "such" is an adverb in this sentence because it modifies the adjective "amazing" by amplifying it. But the phrase like "such" can also be correlative conjunction when it’s paired with the word “that”.

She was such a fantastic cook that she won over even the pickiest eaters.  

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

She was such a fantastic cook. She won over even the pickiest eaters.

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.

Must Read: Paragraph Structure

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Must Read: Active vs Passive Voice

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