Certain adverbs and conjunctions, in comparison or antithesis, require
the use of corresponding adverbs and conjunctions. Such corresponding
words are called correlatives. The following are the principal ones in
|as, as.|| not merely, but also.|
|as, so. || not merely, but even.|
| both, and. || so, as.|
| if, then. || so, that.|
| either, or. || such, as.|
| neither, nor. || such, that.|
| not only, but. || though, yet.|
| not only, but also.|| when, then.|
| not only, but even.|| where, there.|
| not merely, but. || whether, or.|
The improper grouping of these correlatives is the cause of many
errors in speech and writing.
"She is as wise as she is good." "Mary is as clever as her brother."
The correlatives as... as are
employed in expressing equality. Their use in any other connection is
considered inelegant. "As far as I am able to judge, he would make a
very worthy officer." This is a very common error. The sentence should
be, "So far as I am able," etc.
As is often followed by so. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be."
In such negative assertions as, "This is not as fine a tree as that,"
the first as should be changed to so. Say, "She is not so handsome as
she once was." "This edition of Tennyson is not so fine as that."
The correlatives either, or, and neither, nor, are employed when two
objects are mentioned; as, "Either you or I must go to town to-day,"
"Neither James nor Henry was proficient in history."
"He neither bought, sold, or exchanged stocks and bonds." The sentence
should be, "He neither bought, sold, nor exchanged stocks and bonds."
"That is not true, neither." As we already have one negative in the
word not, the word neither should be changed to either, to avoid the
A negative other than neither may take either or or nor as its
correlative, "She was not so handsome as her mother, or so brilliant
as her father." "He was never happy nor contented afterward."
Position of correlatives
The placing of correlatives requires care. "He not only gave me
advice, but also money." This is a faulty construction because the
first member of the correlative, not only, being placed before the
verb gave leads us to expect that the action of giving is to be
contrasted with some other action. The close of the sentence reveals
the fact that the words advice and money represent the ideas intended
for contrast. The first correlative should, therefore, have been
placed before advice, and the sentence should read, "He gave me not
only advice, but also money."
"I remember that I am not here as a censor either of manners or
morals." This sentence from Richard Grant White will be improved by
changing the position of the first member of the correlative. "I
remember that I am not here as a censor of either manners or morals."
"I neither estimated myself highly nor lowly." It should be, "I
estimated myself neither highly nor lowly."
"He neither attempted to excite anger, nor ridicule, nor admiration."
The sentence should be, "He attempted to excite neither anger, nor
ridicule, nor admiration." But here we have the correlative neither,
nor, used with more than two objects, which is a violation of a
principle previously stated. The
sentence is purposely introduced to call attention to the fact that
many respectable writers not only use neither, nor, with three or more
objects, but also defend it. This usage may be avoided by a
reconstruction of the sentence; as, "He did not attempt to excite
anger, nor ridicule, nor admiration."