A Brief Introduction to Correlative Conjunctions

Hi there. Before I start boring you with a grammar topic, let’s do a small activity. I would need your help here.

Check out the two sentences below and let me know which one sounds better?

  1. I like dancing, cooking, and to travel.
  2. I like dancing, cooking, and traveling.

Which one of these sounds better when you read it? If you answer ‘A’ then I’m quite sure you are one of those guys who like pineapple on a pizza. 

Okay, maybe that was a bit too harsh. But let’s just cut to the chase. Most of you would have answered ‘B’. Why? Because it sounds more natural and because of a grammar concept called ‘parallelism’ or ‘parallel structure’.

Parallelism is nothing but using the same grammatical structure for different parts of a sentence. For example, in the example above, we used all the verbs (play, cook, travel) in their participle form (-ing form). This not only makes the content easier to process but also enhances its readability. (Why did I underline some words here? You’ll figure it out as you keep reading this article. Hint: These are correlative conjunctions).

But why am I discussing ‘parallelism’ when the main topic is ‘correlative conjunctions’?

Well, mostly because parallelism is an important aspect of correlative conjunctions. When using correlative conjunctions, you must focus on keeping the parallel structure intact. 

Coming to correlative conjunctions, these are types of conjunctions that work in pairs to join phrases that have equal importance in a sentence. What are conjunctions then? They are simply words that are used to connect other words, phrases, clauses, or sentences. Okay, that’s too much theory. Let’s explain the same through examples.

  • I have a book and a pen.
  • I want to thank you because you helped me with my homework.
  • She likes you but she only sees you as a friend. (Oops! Maybe I should have used a different example).

So as you can see from the examples above, the underlined words are connecting other words, phrases, and sentences. These are called conjunctions. Some commonly used conjunctions are:

  • and
  • as
  • because
  • but
  • for
  • just as
  • or
  • neither
  • nor
  • not only
  • so
  • whether
  • yet

Correlative conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are conjunctions that are used in pairs. The following are the commonly used correlative conjunctions:

  • both/and
  • either/or
  • hardly/when
  • if/then
  • just as/so
  • neither/nor
  • not only/but also
  • no sooner/than
  • not/but
  • rather/than
  • scarcely/when
  • what with/and
  • whether/or
  • as/as
  • as many/as

Some examples of correlative conjunctions

These examples will help you better understand the usage of correlative conjunctions:

  • VyasSpeaks is not only informative but also inspirational. (What? It’s my blog. I can promote myself.)
  • She’s both smart and pretty.
  • Neither Vikram nor his brothers have understood the concept of social distancing. (Vikram and bros are not cool.)
  • Have you made a decision about whether to take up that online course or not?
  • Cricket isn’t as fun as football. (Ok fine! I am biased.)
  • There are as many curtains as there are windows.
  • Kartik would rather spend time with his family than go out with friends. (Kartik is smart. Be like Kartik.)

You can also see that the examples above also follow the rule of parallelism I discussed in the beginning.

So, those were correlative conjunctions. Use can these in your writing to make it more impactful. If you still have any queries regarding the topic, then you can ask your questions through the comments section below. You can also get in touch with me at vshikhil@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading. I am Shikhil Vyas, a professional content writer and a writing coach. If you’d like my help on improving your writing skills, simply get in touch through the contact form below. For any queries on how my one-on-one writing coaching works, check Writing Coach.


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