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Conjunctions

A conjunction is a word which connects two words or clauses or sentences and shows the relation between them. They are used to avoid making the text seem like bullet points and to make the text flow. E.g. -

Jai saw a dog on the road. He decided to adopt the dog. Jai brought the dog home.

Jai saw a dog on the road and decided to adopt the dog, so he brought the dog home.

Here ‘and’ and ‘so’ are conjunctions which are used to join the sentences and show the relation between them.

There are three main categories of conjunctions that are explained below. Apart from these, there are also Adverbs of Conjunctions,. To learn more about the Adverbs of Conjunctions visit the Adverbs page.

Coordinating Conjunctions

These conjunctions are used to link or join two words or phrases that are equally important and complete in terms of grammar when compared with each other. That is to say, the sentences or words do not depend on anything to give themselves meaning.

There are seven main coordinating conjunctions -

  • For

    And

    Nor

    But

    Or

    Yet

    Soon

As you can see, these conjunctions are arranged in this way to provide the mnemonic acronym of FANBOYS so that it is easier to remember them. These conjunctions are always placed between the two clauses or words that they are joining. The following are some examples of the coordinating conjunctions -

Chris does not want tea. Chris does not want coffee. - Chris does not want tea or coffee.

  • Here, we see how ‘or’ was used to combine the two words and make a cohesive sentence using them. Also, notice how the ‘or’ is between the two words.

I scored 60% in the exams this year. Anita scored 7% more than me this year. - I scored 60% in the exams but Anita scored 7% more than me this year.

  • Here we see that ‘but’ was used in the middle to combine and show the relation between the two sentences that were both equally important and cohesive by themselves.

Subordinating Conjunctions

These conjunctions are used to join an independent and complete clause with a dependent clause that relies on the main clause for meaning and relevance. The dependent clause cannot exist on its own as a sentence and often does not make sense without the main clause.

The subordinating conjunction always comes before the dependent clause but the dependent clause itself can be placed either ahead of or following the independent clause.

Since they had misbehaved, the boys were given one week suspensions from school.

Here, we see the dependent clause is ‘they had misbehaved’ which is not a valid sentence by itself.

The independent main clause is ‘the boys were given one week suspensions from school’.

They are joined by the subordinating conjunction ‘since’.

He was fond of playing basketball because it was his father’s favourite game.

In this sentence, because is the subordinating conjunction as it introduces the dependent clause ‘it was his father’s favourite game’

The main clause in this sentence is ‘he was fond of playing basketball’ as it is the sentence which can be said independently and still be grammatically correct.

Other subordinating conjunctions are - Although, As, Before, Once, Though, Until, Whether, etc.

Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative Conjunctions are simply pairs of conjunctions used in a sentence to join different words or groups of words in a sentence together. Correlative Conjunctions are generally not used to link sentences themselves, instead they link two or more words of equal importance within the sentence itself. Some of the more commonly used correlative conjunctions are -

Both the shoes and the dress were completely overpriced.

  • This is an example of using the correlative conjunctions ‘both/and’ in a sentence. As you can see in this sentence, the ‘shoes’ and the ‘dress’ were equally important elements that needed to be given the same importance.

They should either change their strategy or just forfeit the game.

  • The ‘either/or’ conjunctions are used to suggest a choice between two options. Here the choice being suggested is between - ‘change their strategy’ or ‘forfeit the game’.

Just as she loves hiking so she enjoys travelling as well.

  • The correlative conjunctions ‘just as/so’ are used to link two phrases that have a similar theme or are referring to a similar thing together. This conjunction is used to show the correspondence between two phrases or words.

He neither helps around the house nor does he look for a job.

  • ‘Neither/nor’ are conjunctions that are used to deny or negate words and phrases. In the case of ‘neither’, it gives two options that are both negated. ‘Nor’ is the negative form of ‘or’.

Not only does he play the lead guitar but he is also the band’s songwriter.

  • The correlative conjunctions ‘not only/but’ are used to show an additional and important element in the sentence that is used to indicate excess when combined with the first element. For instance, in this sentence the fact that he is a guitarist and a song writer are equally important but when shown together, they indicate an excess of talent in the person.

It doesn’t matter whether the roses are fresh or if they are drooping, just buy them.

  • ‘Whether/or’ is used as a conjunction to show two different options in the sentence. The conjunction can be used both in a manner of negation and confirmation.

Conjunctions Exercise 1

Conjunctions Exercise 2