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Conjunctions: What are they and how do they work

Conjunctions: What are they and how do they work

Conjunctions are bridging words that connect other words, phrases, or clauses together within a sentence. They serve to show the relationship between different elements, allowing us to create more complex and meaningful sentences.

There are four main types of conjunctions:

  • Coordinating Conjunction
  • Correlative Conjunction
  • Subordinating Conjunction
  • Conjunctive Adverb

How do Conjunctions work

Conjunctions are words that help join other words, phrases, or clauses. Without them, we’ll have no choice but to write and speak in simple, short sentences: I like sleeping. I love napping. I hate to wake up early in the morning.

Eg. I want to have pizza for lunch and cheeseburger for dinner.
Eg. Since it was raining outside, Sarah decided to stay indoors.
Eg. Jacob loves to play basketball, but Billy does not.

Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions are a type of conjunction that lets you connect words, phrases, or clauses that are of equal grammatical importance within a sentence. The seven most common coordinating conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.

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Eg. She enjoys cooking, for it allows her to be creative in the kitchen.
Eg. I like both chocolate and vanilla ice cream.
Eg. Neither Sarah nor John could attend the meeting.
Eg. She wanted to go to the concert, but she couldn't get tickets.
Eg. Would you prefer tea or coffee for breakfast?
Eg. He was tired, yet he didn't want to go to bed.
Eg. It was getting late, so I decided to leave the party.

Correlative Conjunctions

Similar to coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions are conjunctions that work together to connect equivalent elements within a sentence, emphasising the relationship between them. But unlike coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions come in pairs. Some examples include either/or, neither/nor, and not only/but also.

Eg. You can either have pizza or pasta for dinner tonight.
Eg. Neither the cat nor the dog likes to be left alone.
Eg. He is both a talented musician and a skilled composer.
Eg. She not only aced the exam but also impressed the professor with her insightful essay.
Eg. I can't decide whether to go to the beach or visit the mountains for our vacation.

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions let you join an independent clause (a complete sentence) with a dependent clause (an incomplete sentence that cannot stand alone). They play a key role in complex sentence construction by showing the relationship between the two clauses, often indicating time, cause, condition, place, manner, or purpose. Common subordinating conjunctions include because, although, while, since, if, when, after, until, unless, and many more. 

Eg. She brought an umbrella because it was raining.
Eg. Although it's cold outside, I'll go for a walk.
Eg. I can do my homework while I wait for the bus.
Eg. Since it's your birthday, we bought you a present.
Eg. If you study hard, you'll do well on the test.
Eg. I'll call you when I get home from work.
Eg. We can go for ice cream after we finish our dinner.
Eg. I'll wait here until you come back.
Eg. You can't watch TV unless you finish your chores.
Eg. I'll meet you where we first had lunch.

Conjunctive Adverbs

Conjunctive adverbs are words that serve as a bridge between independent clauses within a sentence. They are versatile and can often function as both adverbs and connectors, helping to create coherence and flow in writing. Some common conjunctive adverbs include however, therefore, moreover, nevertheless, consequently, and furthermore.
Eg. He forgot to eat lunch, therefore he ate twice as much for dinner.
Eg. The weather forecast predicted rain for the entire weekend. However, the sun unexpectedly appeared, bringing clear skies and warmth
Eg. The exam was hard, yet I passed with flying colours.

Starting a sentence with Conjunctions

Like pineapple on pizza, the rule against not starting sentences with conjunctions is more myth than fact. Or rather, more preference than law. While some writers may recoil from the idea, rest assured that no grammatical crime has been committed when you open a sentence with a conjunction.

Starting off with a conjunction is a good way to add emphasis. However, be sure to use it sparingly as too many conjunctions can bog your writing down.

Eg. Or, as some skeptics argued, it was merely a coincidence, a series of random occurrences with no deeper meaning or purpose
Eg. The concert was sold out. So they decided to host a movie night instead.
Eg. The road ahead was an uphill battle. But they were determined to take that first step, despite the odds.

List of Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

Correlative Conjuctions

  • Both/and
  • Either/or
  • Neither/nor
  • Whether/or
  • Not only/but

Subordinating Conjunctions

  • As
  • As if
  • As long as
  • As much as
  • As soon as
  • After
  • Although
  • As though
  • Because
  • Before
  • By the time
  • Even if
  • Even though
  • If
  • In case
  • In the event that
  • In order that
  • Now that
  • Once
  • Only
  • Only if
  • Provided that
  • Since
  • So
  • That
  • Than
  • Though
  • Till
  • Until
  • Unless
  • When
  • Whenever
  • Where
  • Wherever
  • Whereas
  • While

Conjunctive Adverbs

  • Accordingly
  • Additionally
  • Also
  • Besides
  • Consequently
  • Furthermore
  • Hence
  • However
  • Indeed
  • Instead
  • Likewise
  • Meanwhile
  • Moreover
  • Nevertheless
  • Nonetheless
  • Otherwise
  • Similarly
  • Subsequently
  • Therefore
  • Thus
  • Yet
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