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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Rubio

"Splitter" words: How to make sure your sentences plug in

I just got myself an iPhone 7. And after I had already paid for the phone, I got hit with an unpleasant development: you can't plug the phone in and listen to the headphones at the same time. Unlike previous iPhones, which had a headphone jack and a power cord outlet, there's only one port to plug anything into. But that's okay! You can buy a splitter that gives you the ability to plug two things in at once! This made me sigh in relief, until I saw the splitters for sale in the AT&T store. There were two ports, all right, but they were the exact same type as the port in the phone itself.

So you would have to plug an adapter into the splitter in order to hear your music through headphones. Why would you need two power cords at once, instead of a power cord and a headphone jack? This splitter didn't make any sense to me. And speaking of splitters, I've now got a splitting headache. Some words work like splitters, too. When you see one, that means the same kind of machine has to plug into both sides, and it's got to be the same machine you could plug in without the splitter at all.

Splitter words include: both ... and between ... and not only ... but also either ... or Seems straightforward, right? But it's very easy to get wrong. Let's take this example sentence: Our product both ensures more clients and more profits. Nothing wrong with the sentence on the face of it, but let's plug in to our "splitter" and see what we've got.

Remember, both parts need to plug into our sentence individually, without the splitter words. So let's try the first bit.

Great! That plugs into the splitter and is a fine sentence. But the second bit?

Our product more profits.

That's not a sentence! So how do you fix it? You have two options. You can add as many words as you need to make it fit—or, in some cases, you can just move the splitter to a different place in the sentence. Now your plug looks like

Now both of our phrases plug in just fine. Where this gets complicated is when you have long sentences with a lot of words in them. Try to remember that when you have to place a "both," a "between," or a "not only" in your sentence. What comes next needs to plug into that hole all by itself.

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