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Correlating coordinators

Conjunctions and connectors, part 2.

 Correlating coordinators  - also known as Correlative conjunctions

Correlating coordinators are connectors that can either correlate words, or phrases, or clauses (sentences).
The main examples are :
  •  both.... and,    not only.... but also (combining correlators)
  •  either...or ,    whether.... or not (binary choice correlators)
  •  neither.... nor  (negative correlators)
Other correlating pairs include: the more..... the more..... ;  no sooner..... than...  and more.

A longer list of correlating coordinators is provided in the e-book or paperback version of this grammar, available from Amazon.
 
USAGE:  
Both ... and can correlate words, and occasionally clauses (Examples 1 - 3)
When not only starts a clause, the verb and subject of the first clause are inverted. (Example 4)
When nor introduces a clause, subject and auxiliary/modal verb are inverted. (Examples 14 - 15)
Neither can be replaced by not or never in the first of two correlated clauses. (Example 15)
When no sooner or hardly introduce clauses, auxiliary and subject are inverted.
For other uses of whether, see  Conditional clauses (with whether).
 Examples:
  1. This is both stupid and incomprehensible.
  2. Both the president and the prime minister were there.
  3. I can understand both his reasons and his arguments.
  4. Not only can I hear him, but also I can  see him
  5. I can not only hear him, but also see him.
  6. I bought not only some blue suede shoes, but also a big cowboy hat.
  7. It's either right or wrong.
  8. Either it's right, or it's wrong
  9. Either Mummy or Daddy will pick you up after school.  
  10. I'll go there whether or not I'm allowed to.
  11. We're going home now, whether you like it or not.
  12. Neither Paul nor Mary could come to my party.
  13. I'm neither angry nor happy.
  14. I neither like that man, nor dislike him.
  15. I have never been to Florida on holiday; nor have I been there on business.
  16. The more you earn, the more you spend.
  17. No sooner had I opened the door, than the phone rang.
  18. Hardly had the plane taken off, than the pilot reported some trouble.

The problem with conjunctions : where linguists disagree

Most traditional grammars just repeat the established classification of conjunctions as being either coordinating conjunctions or subordinating conjunctions. This neat classification works in most cases, but for some words it does not.  But and though can often be used as synonyms; yet but is listed as a coordinator, and though as a subordinator.
    Compare: He took part in the competition, but he did not win.
     and :  He took part in the competition, though he did not win.
Similarly, the old-fashioned "coordinator" for, has generally been replaced in modern English by as or by because, which are classed as subordinators.  
  Yet there is a real difference between but and though, and that is the way in which they are used. The clause starting with though in the examples above could possibly come before He took part in the competition, but the clause starting with but cannot do so.
OK  Though he did not win, he took part in the competition.
Not OK  But he did not win, he took part in the competition. 
This suggests that the pertinent distinction between different types of conjunction is not actually one of function, but one of usage.
   As for so, implying consequence, both David Crystal and Quirk, Greenbaum et.al. consider it as a subordinator; but many dictionaries and most Internet grammar sites, including Wikipedia, call it a coordinator. Coe, in the classic Learner's Grammar of English, carefully avoids calling it anything more than a conjunction.
      For clarification of "so" see English grammar - so

Going further:  Conjunctive adverbs

Another important category of connectors consists of words such as therefore or however.
These are explained here: ►   Conjunctive adverbs





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