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Correlative conjunctions

These are yet another type of conjunction (and I bet you’re wondering why on Earth you wanted to learn English?) Well just like the other two types of conjunctions in my previous previous posts, these also combine words or phrases but they do so in a different way. Don’t worry, learning them isn’t as bad as you might think.

JUST REMEMBER:

Correlative conjunctions come in pairs, just like these two cats of mine, who are also usually together.

As long as you remember that easy rule (and a couple of others) you’ll be fine.

Spotting this type of conjunction is fairly easy too because of this constant pairing together. For example, either/or always appear together, so when you see/hear the word either you’ll know somewhere very close will be its partner word or.

Here’s some more correlative conjunctions:

  • both – and
  • either- or
  • neither – nor
  • not – but
  • not only – but also
  • as – as
  • such – that
  • scarcely – when
  • as many – as
  • no sooner – than
  • rather – than

These conjunctions usually join elements that are quite similar in length and in grammatical form and are for that reason, quite like coordinating conjunctions (which join words/phrases that have equal weight). The odd group out are the subordinating conjunctions we looked at previously because they join elements that are UNEQUAL (i.e. independent – dependent clauses). Remember? If you’ve forgotten, just take a quick look at the subordinating conjunctions post to refresh your memory.

Each separate element to be joined in a correlative conjunction is called a conjoin. Conjoins must match nouns with nouns, adjectives with adjectives, and pronouns with pronouns.

E.g.

  • The cats pictured above both enjoy playing and having a good nap.
  • Either you eat your dinner or you go to bed.
  • Mia is as mischievous as Bellamy is.

ONLY use this type of conjunction to BALANCE elements in your writing, they are not to be used to show contrast or inequality.

Begin practicing with these asap and you’ll soon see how quickly you can remember the pairings. (If you forget, just think about my two little friends pictured in this post who like to go everywhere together – just like correlative conjunctions do)

There will be more on all three types of conjunctions coming in future posts, but for now, I think you have plenty of information to help you improve the quality and tone of your writing. Good luck and if you have any problems, drop me a comment below.

If you've any feedback on this post, please let me know and I will get back to you asap.

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