Correlative conjunctions (see Handbook pp. 615-16) can provide the attention-getting contrasts that provide emphasis. The conjunctions, which are used in pairs to correlate phrases or clauses within a sentence, include either-or, neither-nor, not only-but also, and both-and. Usually, a correlative conjunction does little to emphasize one phrase over another, as in the first two examples below. At most, the phrases may naturally contrast with each other, as in examples 3-6.
- The cat, purring contentedly, was neither thirsty nor hungry.
- Both the politicians who take the money and the donors who give it claim that there is no illegal or unethical influence in the practice.
- The doctor said that both green leafy vegetables and sweet desserts have a legitimate place in the average diet.
- According to the press, either the Chinese authorities or the members of the religious sect will have to back down.
- Not only the young girl but also the old man had a great time at the ice-skating competition.
- In the event of a catastrophic storm, neither the citizenry nor the government has the luxury of waiting for the other to help rebuild.
The writer, though, can create contrast with the addition of extra-contrastive markers, such as words of extra emphasis (too, even, else) and/or altered word order:
- Not only did the young girl have a great time at the ice-skating competition, but the old man did too.
- According to the press, either the Chinese authorities will have to back down, or else it will be the members of the religious sect who have to.
- The doctor said that both green leafy vegetables and less nutritious foods, even sweet desserts, have a legitimate place in the average diet.
Notice how, in each of the above sentences, grammatical parallelism (see 36c) is needed for the two parts connected by the correlative conjunctions.