Conjunctions are an essential part of speech that helps us to join words and phrases together to create complete sentences. Without conjunctions, our thoughts and ideas would sound incomplete. And would make basic communication difficult to comprehend in the English language.
What are Conjunctions?
Some common examples include ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘for’, ‘although’, ‘because’, and ‘but’.
The most well-known nursery rhyme taught to students has some good examples of the conjunction ‘and’.
Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.
Without conjunctions, the rhyme would be tedious and not lyrical.
Let us look at how conjunctions turn three simple sentences into one much more refined sentence.
- Simple Sentence 1: Malt likes jogging.
- Simple Sentence 2: Seth loves running.
- Simple Sentence 3: Malt and Seth love swimming.
Complex Sentence using Conjunctions:
Malt likes jogging while Seth loves running, but they both love swimming.
What Do Conjunctions Do?
Conjunctions help join words, phrases, and clauses to create complex sentences. The words, phrases, and clauses that conjunctions join are called conjuncts.
These conjuncts may be of equal importance and be able to stand on their own as separate sentences. Or they may be of unequal importance, with a dependent clause establishing a relationship with an independent part through the conjunction.
To understand what conjunctions do, it is important to understand the different types of this class of words.
Conjunctions come three forms:
- Coordinating Conjunctions
- Subordinating Conjunctions
- Correlative Conjunctions
In addition, it is important to know of a type of adverb called Conjunctive Adverbs that act as conjunctions.
We briefly look at each of these four in this section and explore the first three in more depth in the later sections below.
Coordinating conjunctions join words, phrases, clauses, and sentences that are grammatically similar. They are also called Coordinators as they coordinate between two or more words, phrases, clauses, or sentences of similar nature.
- Andy would like to have Italian or Chinese.
- Sam was on leave yesterday for he was unwell.
- It was raining and people were out with their umbrellas.
Subordinating Conjunctions join a dependent clause with an independent one. The dependent clause cannot stand on its own, but it lends an additional value to the independent clause. An important sub-type of subordinating conjunctions is Conjunctions of Time.
- Think a bit unless you have already made your decision.
- Let me know when you are done repairing the jet engine.
- Sam will take part because Karen is taking part in the play.
Correlative conjunctions join words, phrases, clauses, and sentences of equal importance. They usually work in pairs such as ‘both/and’, ‘either/or’, ‘neither/nor’ and ‘not only/but also’.
- We will either start early morning or after 11 am.
- Neither does he look like Danish nor any other person I know.
- It was not only windy but also raining at the hilltop.
Conjunctive Adverbs work as conjunctions and join two independent clauses just like coordinating conjunctions. They show a relationship such as cause and effect, contrast or sequence in a sentence.
- Betty is busy with her exam preparation. Consequently, she will not participate in the festival.
- Ron is a good manager; moreover, he excels at project management.
- You should start exercising. Also, go to a dietitian and plan your meals.
The Three Rules of Using Conjunctions
There are three important rules to remember while using conjunctions:
Rule 1: Connect
Conjunctions connect thoughts, actions and ideas as well as nouns, clauses and other parts of speech. This is the most important use of this part of speech.
- Jack and Jill
- Betty went to the gym and pumped weights.
- Seth likes mangoes but not oranges
Rule 2: Lists
Conjunctions help in creating a structure for making lists within a sentence.
- Marjorie bought flour, eggs and sugar to bake a cake.
- Instead of sugar, you may use honey, Jaggery powder, maple syrup or dates. But not artificial sweeteners.
- The four principles enshrined in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution are Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
Rule 3: Agreement
All the conjuncts should agree in terms of sentence construction. Do not use a conjunction to join phrases, clauses, or sentences that are constructed in different ways. Change the structure and style as needed to solve this problem.
Incorrect: Harper has an eye for detail and she is speedy.
Correct: Harper has an eye for detail and she is fast.
Incorrect: Milo work hastily yet is careful.
Correct: Milo work hastily yet carefully.
Understanding Coordinating Conjunctions
Coordinating conjunctions join words phrases, clauses, and sentences that have similar grammatical syntax or structure, and are of equal importance to the more significant sentence.
There are seven coordinating conjunctions in English language – ‘For’, ‘And’, ‘Nor’, ‘But’, ‘Or’, ‘Yet’ and ‘So’ and they can be remembered with the mnemonic FANBOYS.
F – For
A – And
N – Nor
B – But
O – Or
Y – Yet
S – So
|Coordinating Conjunctions||Subordinating Conjunctions|
Types of Coordinating Conjunctions
English grammar sub-classifies coordinating conjunctions into four types based on their role in the sentence. Let us look at them and try to understand the differences with similar examples.
Cumulative Coordinating Conjunction: As the word cumulative suggests here, the coordinating conjunction is used to add a phrase, clause, or sentence to another.
- Mads went to the doctor and then to her office.
- The outfield was wet and the match was canceled.
- You can study and then watch YouTube.
Alternative Coordinating Conjunction: Here the conjunction is used to offer a single or multiple alternative options.
- Mads realized she could go to the doctor or to office but not both.
- Sandy or Ran can play as the 12th man.
- You can finish your homework or watch YouTube.
A-d-v-e-r-s-a-t-i-v-e Coordinating Conjunction: This type of conjunction presents opposing ideas and add an element of decision in the sentence.
- Mads went to the doctor but had recovered from her headache by the time she reached.
- Sandy was not well, yet he went to play the match.
- I finished my homework and decided to watch YouTube, but did not feel like it.
I-l-l-a-t-i-v-e Coordinating Conjunction: This conjunction is used to show an inference. Here a fact present in one phrase or clause flows from the other.
- Mads was given medications for she had gone to see a doctor.
- Sandy was rested for the match for he was unwell.
- I finished my homework, so I could watch YouTube.
Some More Examples of Coordinating Conjunctions
- The temperature was lower than yesterday for it had rained heavily last night.
- I spend both Saturday and Sunday sleeping.
- San would like to learn neither Chess nor Go.
- Autumn wanted the laptop but it was beyond her budget.
- Tom wanted either Huck or Becky to go fishing with him.
- John finished his dinner yet he was still hungry.
- Earl wanted to improve his test scores, so he studied an hour extra before bed.
Understanding Subordinating Conjunctions
Subordinating Conjunctions join dependent and independent clauses to make a complex sentence. As the name suggests, the dependent clause depends on the independent clause and includes some additional information in the larger sentence. These parts of speech may also be used to introduce adverb clauses.
The conjunction works in two ways within a sentence. Firstly, it highlights the value of the independent clause, and secondly, it provides a platform for the merging of two ideas. This merger establishes a cause-and-effect relationship or a time-based relationship.
The time-based subordinating conjunctions are Conjunctions of Time and establish a connection between the clauses that are centered around timelines.
Examples of Conjunctions of Time
- I left before he arrived.
- The second train arrived after the first one cleared the platform.
- Nancy decided to check the gift shop while John was finishing lunch.
Like the FANBOYS mnemonic used for coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions can be remembered using the mnemonic: ON A WHITE BUS.
O – Once, Only if
N – Now that
A – As, Although, After
W+H – While, When, Whereas, Whenever, Wherever, Whether
I – If, In case, In order to, In the event that
T – Though
E – Even if, Even though
B – Because, Before
U – Unless, Until
S – So, So that, Since, Supposing
In addition, beginners can use a smaller acronym called SWABI. It is similar to the FANBOYS acronym in the sense that each of the letters in SWABI stand for one subordinating conjunction.
S – Since
W – When
A – After
B – Because
I – If
Three Key Points for Subordinating Conjunctions
Remember three key points for subordinating conjunctions:
Point #1: Their position is influenced by the dependent clause. They may be at the beginning or middle of a sentence depending on whether the dependent clause was placed before the independent clause or after.
- She cannot leave office until she mails the client.
- Until she mails the client, she cannot leave office.
Point #2: When using a subordinate clause at the beginning, it is important to use a comma right after the dependent clause.
- Until she mails the client, she cannot leave the office.
- Though it was late, we decided to close the project before we left for the day.
- Even though the bell sounded, the students took a while to come out of their classrooms.
Point #3: When using a subordinate clause in the middle, do not use a comma after the word.
- She cannot leave the office until she mails the client.
- We decided to close the project before we left for the day, even though it was late.
- The students took a while to come out of their classrooms after the bell had sounded.
Some More Examples of Subordinating Conjunctions:
- Once he had the coat, he decided he would go to the prom.
- Now that the storm was past, regular activity resumed in the market.
- Although it did not strike anyone at that time, the merger of the two companies made them the top choice for every award in their industry.
- I was up cleaning the house while you were sleeping.
- Holly decided to pack a pair of sweaters in the event that it got cold up there.
- Though the window was open, we did not hear the taxi honk.
- Even though it was great, it took a while to get used to the book.
- Preston cooked because his parents were away at work, and his sister never cooked.
- Unless it rains, the school will be open tomorrow.
- Keep the book since you find it interesting.
Coordinating conjunctions are the third type of conjunctions and help join words, phrases, clauses, and sentences that are of equal importance in the sentence. They are usually found in pairs and work together to bind two parts of the sentence that may portray relatable ideas.
They usually work in pairs such as ‘both/and’, ‘either/or’, ‘neither/nor’ and ‘not only/but also’ with the two words not placed alongside each other.
- Either you or Andy should attend the meeting.
- Despite the traffic, neither did the cab arrive late nor did the driver charge extra.
- Both the dogs and the cats loved listening to music.
Examples of Conjunctions
Coordinating Conjunctions Examples:
- Jag won the race for he had prepared well.
- The weather was warmer for summer was near.
- This college is very good and the faculty is excellent
- Sutton realized Sony and Clark were very intelligent.
- I want neither ice cream nor fruit juice.
- Neither the deck nor the cabins were very clean.
- The road was good but the traffic was bad.
- The housing society was well located but it did not have proper access roads.
- Bertha would like to see a movie or a play.
- You can either appear for the army or pursue civil service.
- The movie was good yet it felt incomplete.
- It was a good day for a walk yet most people were indoors.
- Ash wanted to reach office before her team, so she left half an hour earlier than usual.
- It was an interesting concept, so they decided to try it out at home.
Subordinating Conjunctions Examples:
- Once she was settled in, she decided to order her dinner.
- We will able to go to the hill station only if the roadblock is lifted.
- Now that the sanctions were lifted, regular trade could resume.
- As it was late, I decided to go to sleep.
- The painting was an excellent work of art although the price was steep.
- The caterers left after everybody had eaten.
- While Sonia learnt art, John thought he would brush up his guitar skills.
- It was ready when they arrived to pick it up.
- Whereas everyone plans, few start and fewer continue to exercise.
- I will go wherever life takes me.
- Laila thought it made sense to reach late in order to avoid the speeches.
- If you can imagine it, you can do it.
- Though the journey was short, the view made it an experience of a lifetime.
- Even if Dean likes it, he is unlikely to wear the shirt after a few days.
- Even though I checked, I was unable to find the fork anywhere in the kitchen.
- Bryan thought he was right because he followed the instructions in the book exactly.
- Unless we start now, we will be late.
- Improve your handwriting so you get the higher marks you deserve.
- It is good to have a balanced diet so that you remain healthy.
- Supposing we finish the test early, we can use the extra time to practice for the match.
- Since all of you have studied well, you will not have to worry about passing the test.
Correlative Conjunctions Examples:
- Golf isn’t as fun as football.
- There were as many people as possible inside the hall.
- We will take both the selected items and the ones on sale.
- I want either the chocolate ice cream or the sundae.
- Just as children love the sun in winter, so do adults who love to be outside enjoying the sunshine.
- Neither the dog nor the cat liked to take a bath.
- No sooner had the postman gone than I realized I forgot to ask him the address of the post office.
- I will eat not only the chocolate cake but also the lemon tart.
- Hazel thought she would rather eat boiled vegetables than dance on stage.
- I had scarcely entered the house when I remembered the things I had forgotten to buy and had to run right back out again.
- Such was the din that no one could sleep until the police stopped the music.
- Whether you prefer the long but easy road or the shorter, but harder path will determine your attitude toward most things in life.
Where do Conjunctions Go?
Conjunctions are usually placed at the beginning or the middle of a sentence but never at the end.
For instance, coordinating conjunctions are placed between the words, phrases, or clauses that they join, while subordinating conjunctions are placed at the beginning of the subordinate clause. Subordinate conjunctions may appear at the beginning of a sentence if the dependent clause is placed before the independent clause.
- Jack and Jill went up the hill. (Coordinating conjunction)
- Even if it were true, gossiping is never the right thing to do. (Subordinating conjunctions with the subordinate clause at the start of a sentence)
- Most people go about their regular work without thinking unless something unexpected happens. (Subordinating conjunctions with subordinate clause after independent clause)
Understanding Conjunctions and Commas
Commas are sometimes necessary while using conjunctions. There are different rules based on the type of conjunction.
Commas and Coordinating Conjunctions
Commas should be placed before the coordinating conjunction when the word is joining two independent clauses. However, it is advisable to avoid the comma if the independent clauses are short and balanced.
In case the sentence contains a list, then commas should be used when the conjunction precedes the last item in a list of three or more items.
It is advisable to keep in mind that this point is a bone of contention for most experts, with some saying it should be used while others advising against it. The rule of thumb is to place a comma before the conjunction. Especially when the list is made of phrases, compound words, or single and compound words. The comma in such lists is called the Oxford Comma.
- Susan threw the ball and her dog ran after it. (No comma needed)
- Susan threw the ball as far as possible over the hedge, and her dog raced after it. (Comma makes the structure better)
- The shopping list included groceries, fruits and vegetables. (Small list and no comma needed)
- The shopping list included paintbrushes, overcoats, cover sheets, sandpaper, and a pair of tongs. (Eclectic list and an Oxford comma make sense)
Commas and Subordinating Conjunctions
A comma should come after the subordinate clause when the subordinating conjunction is placed at the beginning of the sentence. However, it should not be used for the subordinating conjunction when it is placed in the middle of the sentence.
- Before Red arrived, Sam left. (Comma needed as subordinating conjunction is at the start of the sentence)
- Sam left before Red arrived. (No comma is needed as subordinating conjunction is in the middle of the sentence)
- Once I take out the trash, I will go take a bath.
- I will go take a bath once I take out the trash.
- Even if it were true, it will not help us in the long term.
- It will not help us in the long term even if it were true.
Commas and Correlative Conjunctions
Though they look the most complex, the use of commas in correlative conjunctions is simple. Use a comma when the two clauses look like independent clauses, and do not use it in other circumstances.
- The more Kate checked the financials, the more irregularities popped up. (Comma needed)
- Neither did Riley eat breakfast, nor was he able to make it for lunch on time. (Comma needed)
- Jackie had scarcely left school when she was called back for a staff meeting. (Comma not needed)
Conjunctions are usually of three types in terms of structure:
- Single words: Comprise of one word
- Compound words: Consist of two or more words
- Correlative words: They are used as Correlative Conjunctions and exist in pairs. They are placed at different parts of a sentence to join equal phrases or clauses together to make a coherent whole. They are not placed alongside each other in the sentence.
Here are some examples of these different types of conjunctions.
Examples of Single-Word Conjunctions
Examples of Compound Word Conjunctions
- As if
- As long as
- As much as
- As soon as
- As though
- By the time
- Even if
- Even though
- In addition to
- In case
- In order that
- In the event that
- Insofar as
- Just as
- Now since
- Now that
- Now when
- Only if
- Or else
- Provided that
- Rather than
- So that
- Whether or not
Examples of Correlative Word Conjunctions
- As many/As
- Just as/So
- No sooner/Than
- Not only/But also
FANBOYS Method to Understand Conjunctions
It is easy to remember coordinating conjunctions using the mnemonic: FANBOYS
Each of the letters represent one of the seven coordinating conjunctions in the English language.
F – For
A – And
N – Nor
B – But
O – Or
Y – Yet
S – So
S-W-A-B-I Method to Understand Conjunctions
In addition to the ON A WHITE BUS mnemonic, S-W-A-B-I is another acronym to remember subordinating conjunctions.
Like FANBOYS, each of the letters in S-W-A-B-I stand for one subordinating conjunction.
S – Since
W – When
A – After
B – Because
I – If
Parts of speech
More parts of speech:
- Parts of speech
- Possessive nouns
- Irregular plural nouns
- Proper nouns
- Concrete nouns
- Collective nouns
- Possessive and plural nouns
More on conjunctions
- Coordinate conjunction
- Compound sentence
- Complex sentence
- Independent clause
- Subordinate conjunction
- Conjunctive adverb
- Correlative conjunction
- Adverb clause
How do subordinating conjunctions work?
Subordinating conjunctions join independent and dependent clauses.
What is a subordinate clause?
Subordinate clauses are also referred to as a dependent clause and follow the same grammar functions.
What are common subordinating conjunctions?
Because, since, as, although, though, while, and whereas.
- A conjunction is a word like AND, BUT, ALTHOUGH, BECAUSE. The 2 main types of conjunctions are: 1) coordinating conjunctions 2) subordinating conjunctions. Without conjunctions, we could only make very simple sentences…
- Definition of conjunction noun in Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Meaning, pronunciation, picture, example sentences, grammar, usage notes, synonyms and more.
- Conjunct Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster
- Conjunction (grammar) – Wikipedia
- Parts of speech – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- The 9 Parts of Speech: Definitions and Examples
- Coordinating Conjunctions Definition – Grammar Terminology – Using-English-.com
- Conjunctions: Definition and Examples
- Conjunctions: Grammar Rules and Examples | G-r-a-m-m-a-r-l-y
- What Is a Conjunction | Examples & Exercises
- 4 Types of Conjunctions: Definitions and Examples
- What Are Conjunctions of Time in English? | L-a-n-Geek
- Using Conjunctions | Definition, Rules & Examples
- Conjunctions in English – Explore Meaning, Definition, Types, Usage and Examples
- Coordinating Conjunctions – Examples & Exercises
- Coordinating Conjunctions – Learn What They Are, Their Definition, Usage with Examples
- Cumulative Coordinating Conjunctions is called because they join words
- The Subordinating Conjunction & A Trick
- Subordinating Conjunctions – Learn the Meaning, Definition, Usage with Examples
- GMAT Grammar: Subordinate Conjunctions | Mag-o-o-sh Study Resources
- What is Correlative Conjunction? Examples and List » Only-My-English
- Correlative Conjunctions – Explore Meaning, Definition, Usage and Examples
- Conjunctive Adverbs – Explore Meaning, Definition and Examples
- Introduction to Conjunctions – Definition, Types with Examples
- Conjunctions – English, Grammar
- Commas and Conjunctions – Grammar 101 – Elite Editing
- What are S-W-A-B-I-s in Grammar? – S-peel-i
- Conjunctions in English Grammar: Rules, Types, Uses with Examples
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- Abstract Noun
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- Active Sentence
- Adjective Clause
- Adjective Phrase
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- Appositive Phrase
- Compound Adjective
- Complex Sentence
- Compound Words
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- Compound Noun
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- Direct Object Pronoun
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- Simple Future Tense
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- Slash Symbol