Correlative conjunctions: neither/nor, either/or, both/and, . . .
Correlative conjunctions are pairs such as neither . . . nor, not . . . only, and but . . . also.
These conjunctions connect two balanced clauses, phrases, or words.
The two elements that correlative conjunctions connect are usually similar in length and grammatical structure.
Example sentences containing correlative conjunctions:
- either . . . or
We can go to either Greece or Spain for our holiday.
It’s my final offer – you can either take it or leave it.
- both . . . and
Both rugby and football are popular in France.
Both English and Welsh are spoken in Wales.
- not only . . . but also
Not only is he a professional footballer, but he’s also a successful businessman.
- not . . . but
There are not two but three Baltic states: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
In sport, what counts is not the winning but the taking part.
- neither . . . nor
Neither Norway nor Switzerland is in the European Union.
Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory. (Abraham Lincoln)
- whether . . . or
Whether you love them or hate them, you have to admit that the Rolling Stones are very popular.
I’m totally confused – I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.
- no sooner . . . than
No sooner had I finished watering the garden than it started raining.
Watch out! The verb which follows two subjects joined by or must agree with the second subject, NOT the first:
- Either my brother or my mum
looklooks after our cat when we’re away on holiday.
- Either my brother or my parents
lookslook after our cat when we’re away on holiday.
- Neither the manager nor his assistant
areis here today.
- Neither the manager nor his assistants
isare here today.