Correlative conjunctions are sort of like tag-team conjunctions. They come in pairs, and you have to use both of them in different places in a sentence to make them work. They get their name from the fact that they work together (co-) and relate one sentence element to another. Correlative conjunctions include pairs such as "both/and," "either/or," "neither/nor," "not/but" and "not only/but also." For example:
- either/or - I want either the cheesecake or the chocolate cake.
- both/and - We'll have both the cheesecake and the chocolate cake.
- whether/or - I didn't know whether you'd want the cheesecake or the chocolate cake, so I got both.
- neither/nor - Oh, you want neither the cheesecake nor the chocolate cake? No problem.
- not only/but also - I'll eat them both - not only the cheesecake but also the chocolate cake.
- not/but - I see you're in the mood not for desserts but appetizers. I'll help you with those, too.
Here are some more useful pairs of correlative conjunctions:
- as/as - Bowling isn't as fun as skeet shooting.
- such/that - Such was the nature of their volatile relationship that they never would have made it even if they'd wanted to.
- scarcely/when - I had scarcely walked in the door when I got an urgent call and had to run right back out again.
- as many/as - There are as many curtains as there are windows.
- no sooner/than - I'd no sooner lie to you than strangle a puppy.
- rather/than - She'd rather play the drums than sing.