Correlative Conjunctions

Coordinate and subordinate conjunctions exist in a sentence alone and without a pair. However, the case is different for correlative conjunctions. It is a type of conjunction that works in pairs to complete the meaning of a sentence. This conjunction helps avoid sentence fragments and achieve perfect grammar. In this blog, we will discuss the different types of correlative conjunctions, how to use them in sentences, and the common mistakes one must avoid.

What is a Correlative Conjunction?

The correlative conjunction forms a parallel structure of two independent clauses, words, or phrases by connecting them. The most common correlative conjunctions are either/or, neither/nor, not only/but also, both/and, and whether/or.

Here are examples of sentences using correlative conjunctions:

  • I can either go to the store or stay home and order online.
  • Neither the teacher nor the students were prepared for the principal’s visit.
  • Both my parents and my siblings are coming to visit this weekend.
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Correlative Conjunctions Rules

The general rule when using correlative conjunction is that they must always come in pairs. When using them, ensure that the sentence fragments have a parallel structure. For example, Either you review and pass the exam or fail and transfer to another program.The sentence used the ‘either/or’ correlative conjunction. Moreover, it has a parallel structure, which means the two clauses have the same grammatical form.

Another rule to follow is that the entire sentence must follow the subject-verb agreement. First, it means that a singular noun, pronoun, or subject must take a singular verb, and a plural subject takes a plural verb. For example, Lea neither likes visiting her friends nor vacationing on holidays. In this sentence, the verb ‘likes’ is singular because it follows the singular subject ‘Lea.’

Moreover, the verb tense must be consistent throughout the sentence. Let’s consider this sentence: Kim not only saved the kid from the accident but she also provided first aid to ensure his safety. The verb tenses used in the two clauses are both in the past tense.

Native English speakers use the five most common correlative conjunctions. Knowing these conjunctions and their usage will help you write better sentences. The table below summarizes their usage and example sentences.

Correlative ConjunctionUsageExample Sentences
Either/Ornegates a statement and shows that none among the two options are preferred by the subjectTalia can either go to the gym or attend a Pilates class to exercise.

Either golf or tennis is a great way to stay active and have fun.
Neither/Norshows a correlation that the subject favors or does two options or thingsNeither their neighbors nor their acquaintances were invited to the party.

Kian neither submitted his art project nor did he ask for an extension.
Both/Andnegates a statement and shows that none among the two options is preferred by the subjectBoth my brother and I are going to the movies tonight.

He proposed that both affordable housing and accessible job opportunities be provided for the homeless.
Not Only/But Alsoshows that there is more to what the subject performedNot only did she finish her project on time, but she also exceeded expectations.

We all know that recycling not only helps the environment but also reduces waste.
Whether/Orshows two possible actions of the subjectWhether you go out or stay in, ensure to have a good time.

I can’t decide whether to buy the TV or wait until the new model comes out.
Table of Rules for Correlative Conjunctions
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Examples of Correlative Conjunctions

Here are ten examples of correlative conjunctions used in sentences:

  1. During his spare time, he either plays video games at home or reads novels at the public library.
  2. We can either cut losses and withdraw the investment or wait and see if the market improves.
  3. Both Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarök are Mila’s favorite games.
  4. The lawyer took both the witness’s statement and the evidence into consideration.
  5. Not only the student provided the correct answer, but he also posed a thought-provoking question in the essay.
  6. Solar panels not only reduce electricity bills but also help the environment.
  7. Either you can take the bus or I can drive you to school.
  8. Benedict either wants to go to the beach or stay home and watch movies.
  9. Neither his parents nor his siblings were able to attend the graduation ceremony.
  10. Neither my sister nor my brother is interested in playing sports.

Correlative Conjunctions Exercises with Answers

Complete the sentence below using correlative conjunctions.

  1. I can ______________ fix the dryer ______________ advice you on how to avoid similar problems in the future.
  2. You ______________ go to the mall ______________ host a slumber party for your birthday.
  3. Vito ______________ understood the topic ______________ asked the teacher for help.
  4. ______________ did Alice explore the city, ______________ she ______________ took lots of pictures.
  5. The doctor is deciding ______________ to prescribe medication ______________ recommend physical therapy.


  1. I can both fix the dryer and advice you on how to avoid similar problems in the future.
  2. You either go to the mall or host a slumber party for your birthday.
  3. Vito neither understood the topic nor asked the teacher for help.
  4. Not only did Alice explore the city, but she also took lots of pictures.
  5. The doctor is deciding whether to prescribe medication or recommend physical therapy.
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Correlative Conjunctions List

  • Either/Or
  • Neither/Nor
  • Both/And
  • Not Only/But Also
  • Whether/Or
  • Rather/Than
  • Such/That

Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

English grammar, like any language, is a complex subject to study. Understanding and applying grammar rules can be challenging, especially for English language learners. However, your success in learning the language is dependent on your learning plan.

First, know that there are different levels of language proficiency. Knowing your status allows you to align it with your study materials and learning strategy. To keep your motivation, select beginner-friendly materials instead of university textbooks when starting. In doing so, you will feel less intimidated by the topics you should learn.

Second, focus on the basics: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Learn how to use them correctly in sentences and understand their meaning. It will help you build a strong foundation for your English language learning journey. Divide those topics into subtopics and learn each concept and rule one by one.

Third, find a reliable source of learning materials. Online resources such as websites, blogs, and YouTube videos are mostly free. LillyPad’s blog, for example, is a great resource for English language learning materials. Additionally, you can find books and other printed materials in your local library or bookstore.

Fourth, practice speaking the language with native speakers or other English learners. It will help you understand how to use the language correctly in conversations and improve your pronunciation.

Finally, be patient with yourself and don’t give up. Learning a language takes time and effort, so set realistic goals and celebrate your achievements along the way.

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand adverbial conjunctions and subordinate conjunctions.

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Common Errors Made by English Learners

Learning a new language can be difficult, and English is no exception. Even experienced English learners make mistakes when speaking or writing in the language. Here are some of the most common mistakes made by English learners:

Common MistakeWhy it HappensCorrectionExamples
Omitting the auxiliary verb form of “do” when starting a sentence with negative conjunctionSome learners omit “does” when using it with negative conjunctions (neither/nor) and proceed to write the options or conditions.Sentences using the auxiliary verb “do” with negative conjunctions at the beginning follow this pattern:

Neither + do/does + statement 1 + nor + (do/does) + statement 2
Incorrect: Neither the students pass their projects nor they answer their homework.

Neither she play sports nor she goes to the gym.

Correct: Neither do the students pass their projects nor do they answer their homework.

Neither does she play sports nor she goes to the gym.
Using because and so as correlative or double conjunctions in a sentenceSome learners are unaware of the proper pairing of correlative conjunctions.‘Because’ and ‘so’ are not correlative conjunctions; hence are used separately in a sentence.

In writing and speaking, only choose one, depending on the message you want to deliver.
Incorrect: Because Olive lied to him, so Hans avoided talking to him.

Correct: Because Olive lied to him, Hans avoided talking to him.


Olive lied to Hans, so he avoided talking to her.
Correlative Conjunctions Common Errors Table
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Learning Strategies and Best Practices for Correlative Conjunctions

A holistic approach to learning a language makes it easier to understand and remember. The five macro skills, reading, listening, viewing, speaking, and writing, should be developed and used in the learning process for better language acquisition. The table below lists activities you can do when learning linking verbs:

Learning Strategies
Reading– Use flashcards to know basic English sight words and their meaning.
– Search for material that contains translations of common expressions from your native language to English.
– Select study materials appropriate for your language proficiency.
Listening– Listen to an audiobook or a song and write what you hear to improve your retention of English words.
– Compare and contrast two audio materials like TV ads and a speech.
– Summarize a podcast, movie, audiobook, and other English audio materials.
Viewing– Observe how native speakers speak and try to mimic it.
– Watch English movies, interviews, and tutorials.
– Use pictographs to learn and remember new words.
Speaking– Join a community of English language learners and communicate with them to improve and gain feedback.
– Integrate the language into your daily life and try to speak using English.
– Participate in speech organizations (e.g. debate clubs, theatre groups)
Writing– Write a journal of your learning journey in English.
– Answer practice tests and create your own sentences.
– Create a reflection essay on the media you watch or listen to.
Correlative Conjunctions Learning Strategies Table
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Correlative Conjunctions Frequently Asked Questions

A correlative conjunction is a pair of conjunctions that join two parts of a sentence. Examples of correlative conjunctions include “both…and,” “neither…nor,” “not only…but also,” and “whether…or.” Although both parts can be separated, correlative conjunctions highlight their relationship and improve coherence.

When using correlative conjunctions, make sure that the two parts of the sentence have a parallel structure. For example, if one part of the sentence is in the present tense, the other should also be in the present tense. Additionally, both sentence fragments should have similar lengths and complexity. Finally, use the correct correlative conjunction for the relationship you are trying to express.

Common correlative conjunction pairs include “both…and,” “either…or,” “neither…nor,” “not only…but also,” and “whether…or.”

The main difference between a correlative conjunction and a regular conjunction is that a correlative conjunction is always used in pairs, while a regular conjunction can be used on its own.

The three kinds of conjunctions are coordinating, subordinating, and correlative. Coordinating conjunctions join two independent clauses together while subordinating conjunctions join an independent clause to a dependent clause. Correlative conjunctions work in pairs to express a relationship between two parts of a sentence.

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Learn from History – Follow the Science – Listen to the Experts

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