More on Correlative Conjunctions


Last week, we covered commonly-used correlative conjunctions, pairs of words which express relationships between equivalent ideas. This week we’re going to explore some additional correlative conjunctions. We’ll also cover several important rules for using correlative conjunctions correctly.


As … as

As … as is used with an adverb or an adjective to compare similar things:


Kelsey is as tall as her dad.

Steve doesn’t work under pressure as well as Bonnie does.


No sooner … than

No sooner … than indicates that one action or event occurs immediately after the completion of another event. The second event often (but not always) negates or undermines the first event in some way:


No sooner had I finished washing the car than it started raining,


Whether … or

Whether … or expresses that only one of two possible actions or ideas is true:


I don’t know whether I’m going to the movies or staying in on Saturday.


Unlike either … or, whether … or can be used in such a way that the choice between the actions/ideas is irrelevant:


Whether you love or hate baseball, you must admit that the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series was long overdue.



Rules for Usage


Subject-Verb Agreement

When a correlative conjunction contains “and,” use a plural verb:


Both June and Richard are high school teachers.


When a correlative conjunction contains “or/nor” the verb should agree with the closest (second) noun:


Either the company or the employees are going to have to compromise on the store being open on Thanksgiving.


Neither the students nor the teacher was responsible for the missed class.



Whenever possible, the clauses connected by correlative conjunctions should be grammatically equivalent.



It was both a very cold day and rainy.

Danni wants to be either a doctor or she wants to be a lawyer when she grows up.



The day was both very cold and rainy.

Danni wants to be either a doctor or a lawyer when she grows up.