Conjunctions

Conjunctions

A conjunction is a word that is used to connect words, phrases, and clauses.

There are many conjunctions in the English language, but some common ones include and, or, but, if, because, for, and when.

Consider the following sentence:

  • The girl is pretty and kind. She has blonde hair with green eyes and she is wearing a blue jacket on top of a white t-shirt.

    You can see how the words highlighted in bold (the conjunctions) bring each of the ideas together to create a flowing sentence. Without the use of a conjunction, the wording would be much more different.

  • The girl is pretty. The girl is kind. She has blonde hair. She has green eyes. She is wearing a blue jacket. She is wearing a white t-shirt.

    This does not sound as audibly appealing and uses far too many words and sentences, making it impractical.


It is important to make sure that when you are using conjunctions that you make sure that they are consistent, for example:

  • I work quickly and carefully.    (correct)
  • I work quickly and careful.   (incorrect)

The first sentence is consistent and therefore correct, the second sentence is incorrect.

There are three basic types of conjunctions:

  1. Coordinating Conjunctions,
  2. Correlative Conjunctions, and
  3. Subordinating Conjunctions.

Coordinating Conjunctions

This type of conjunction is used to connect items that are grammatically equal: two words, two phrases, or two independent clauses.

There are seven coordinating conjunctions in English, and you can remember them using the mnemonic device FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

A conjunction of this type is placed between the items that it links together.

Words

Coordinating conjunctions can join two nouns, verbs, adjectives, or other types of word.

  • I’d like pizza or a salad for lunch.
  • She was clever but lazy.

Phrases

They can also join different types of phrases.

  • The dog wagged his tail and panted excitedly.
  • She usually studies in the library or at a cafe.

Coordinating conjunctions with  Example

Coordinating conjunctionsExample
ForI’d like to thank you for the lovely gift.
OrYou can have peach ice cream or a brownie sundae.
AndI have two goldfish and a cat.
ButI want to go for a hike but I have to go to work today.
YetI try very hard in school yet I am not receiving good grades.
SoMy dad always worked hard so we could afford the things we wanted.
NorThey do not smoke, nor do they play cards.



Subordinating Conjunctions


A subordinating conjunction can be used to join dependent and independent clauses. A subordinating conjunction can signal a cause-and-effect relationship, a contrast, or some other kind of relationship between the clauses.

Common subordinating conjunctions are although, because, while, since, as, though, and whereas. Sometimes an adverb, such as until, after, or before can function as a conjunction.

  • I can stay out until the clock strikes twelve.


Here, the adverb until functions as a subordinating conjunction to connect two ideas:

I can stay out (the independent clause) and the clock strikes twelve (the dependent clause).

The subordinating conjunction doesn’t need to go in the middle of the sentence. It has to be part of the dependent clause, but the dependent clause can come before the independent clause.

  • Before he leaves, make sure his room is clean.

    If the dependent clause comes first, use a comma before the independent clause.
  • I drank a glass of water because I was thirsty.
  • Because I was thirsty, I drank a glass of water.

Common subordinating conjunctions List:

When, who, whoever, whom, whomever, whose, where, wherever, whatever, which, how, Than, rather than, whether, as much as, whereas, that, whichever, after, as soon as, as long as, before, by the time, now that, once, since, till, until, whenever, while, though, although, even though, if, only if, unless, provided that, assuming that, even if, in case (that), lest, as though, as if, because, since, so that, in order (that), that, as

The table below shows some common subordinating conjunctions and the relationships they express, but note that this is not a complete list.

RelationshipCommon subordinating conjunctions
Cause and effectbecause, since, as
Timewhen, before, after, once, until, whenever, since, while
Placewhere, wherever
Conditionif, unless, in case
Contrastalthough, though, whereas


Correlative Conjunctions


Correlative conjunctions are pairs of conjunctions that work together. They are used as a way of relating one sentence to another and one of the golden rules of a correlative conjunction is that they must be equal in a grammatical sense.

Examples of correlative conjunctions are as follows:

  • both/and
  • not/but
  • either/or
  • neither/nor
  • not only/but also
  • whether/or
  • just as/so
  • the/the
  • as/as
  • as much/as
  • no sooner/than
  • rather/than

Some examples of correlative conjunctions being used within a sentence.

  • She planned to collect data by either using an online survey or conducting phone interviews.
  • I do not like either the blue ones or the red ones.
  • I went not only to China but also to America.
  • Neither my brother nor my sister live with my parents anymore.


Correlative conjunctionsExample
Both/andI am finished with both my English essay and my history essay.
Not only/but alsoNot only am I finished studying for English, but I’m also finished writing my history essay.
Either/orShe can have either tea or coffee.
Neither/norYou should neither meet him nor talk to him.
Whether/orI don’t know whether she will recognize me or not.
Such/ thatThe boy asked such a foolish question that everybody laughed at him.
Rather/thanRather than driving, he rode his bike to work.
No sooner/thanNo sooner had I received her call, than I left for her place

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