Conjunctions in English
Conjunctions are an essential part of the English language that we use all the time without even noticing. They help us show relationships between ideas, connect words, and make our writing more interesting.
In this reference, you'll learn conjunction grammar, how to use them in sentences, and find common examples of conjunctions.
What are Conjunctions
Conjunctions definition: "words that join two or more words, clauses, or phrases."
They are used to help form logical relationships between the words and phrases in a sentence. Conjunctions can be used to show cause and effect, establish a contrast, introduce an example, and much more.
The three types of conjunctions in the English language are: coordinating, subordinating, and paired conjunctions. Each type has a slightly different purpose and function.
3 Types of Conjunctions
Let's take a look at each of the 3 different types of conjunctions:
Coordinating conjunctions help us join two independent clauses in a sentence. The seven coordinating conjunctions in English are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. You can remember them by simply using the word FANBOYS, where each letter stands for the conjunction:
- F - for
- A - and
- N - nor
- B - but
- O - or
- Y - yet
- S - so
In a sentence, you would put the coordinating conjunction between the two independent clauses. For example:
"I wanted to go to the movies, but it was raining."
The coordinating conjunction "but" is used to join the two phrases together.
Subordinating conjunctions help us join a dependent clause to an independent clause. Subordinating conjunctions are common and you will usually see them in complex sentences of all kinds.
We use these conjunctions to achieve several goals:
- Establish a comparison
- Introduce a cause/effect relationship
- Express a contrast
- Provide an exception
Here is a handy subordinating conjunctions list:
- even if
- even though
- in order that
- so that
In a sentence, you would put the subordinating conjunction at the beginning of the dependent clause. For example:
"Because it was raining, I decided not to go to the beach."
The subordinating conjunction "because" is used to join the dependent clause "it was raining" to the independent clause "I decided not to go to the beach."
Paired conjunctions are two words that can be used together to join two independent clauses to create a relationship. The most common paired conjunctions in English are either/or, neither/nor, and both/and.
They are also known as correlative conjunction pairs because we use both to connect ideas together.
Here is a handy list of common paired conjunctions:
- not only/but also
- no sooner/than
- the more/the more
In a sentence, if you want to use the either/or pair, you would phrase it as a choice. For example:
“I can either go to the beach or stay home and watch a movie.”
Other pairs express different relationships. So if you say "I would rather stay at home than go to the beach," you're expressing a preference instead.
Here are 10 simple sentences with conjunctions:
- I went to the store and bought milk.
- She was tired but still managed to finish the project.
- You can either take the bus or walk to school.
- I like both cats and dogs.
- Neither my brother nor my sister wanted to go out.
- He ran so fast that he won the race.
- Not only did she get an A on the test, but she also got a perfect score!
- I would rather stay home than go out tonight.
- The more I practice, the better I get at playing guitar.
- I decided not to go to the beach because it was raining
When using conjunctions in a sentence, it's important to make sure that you understand punctuation rules.
3 rules to remember:
1. When using a coordinating conjunction, you usually have to include a comma.
"I like to go to the movies, but I don't like to go alone."
In this sentence, the comma before the coordinating conjunction "but" ensures that your punctuation is correct.
2. When using a subordinating conjunction to join your dependent clause to an independent clause, a comma is not necessary.
"I went to the store because I needed to buy some groceries."
In this sentence, the comma before the subordinating conjunction "because" is not necessary.
3. When using a paired conjunction, you must include a comma.
"I could either go to the movies, or I could stay home and watch TV."
In this sentence, the comma before the paired conjunction "or" is necessary for correct punctuation.
Common Conjunction Mistakes
Now that you know how to use conjunctions in sentences, let's take a look at some common mistakes to avoid.
One conjunction is usually enough to join clauses. Using more than one can be confusing for the reader.
- "Unless" and "until" are usually only used with negative statements.
- "Than" is used to compare two items, while "then" is used to describe a sequence of events.
- We usually use inverted order with conjunctions such as "neither...nor" and "either...or".
- "But" is used to contrast two ideas, while "however" is used to introduce a new idea.
- Conjunctions should not be used to start sentences if they're in a dependent clause.
It's easy to avoid these mistakes and use conjunctions correctly if you take the time to understand the rules and practice using them in sentences.
Starting Sentences with a conjunction
It often sounds unnatural to start a sentence with a conjunction, but it is grammatically correct. Just be sure to use the correct punctuation.
For example: "But, I still don't understand why we have to go."
This could be an effective sentence in a narrative if this is your style. However, beginners often make the mistake of not using the correct punctuation when starting a sentence this way.
Here are 10 examples of sentences that start with conjunctions:
- However, I'm still not sure what to do.
- And then I realized I had made a mistake.
- But I don't think that's the right decision.
- Or we could try a different approach.
- So let's discuss this further before making a decision.
- And yet, I'm still not convinced this is the best option.
- For now, let's just focus on one task at a time.
- But it looks like we're running out of time!
- Nevertheless, I think we can still make this work if we try hard enough.
- Unless we take action soon, it might be too late!
Important: A sentence with a dependent clause on its own is also known as a sentence fragment.
It is incorrect to use a sentence fragment as a stand-alone sentence. Your sentence must have a subject and a verb in order to be considered complete. For example, "Although the clouds were dark" is not a complete sentence. To make it complete, you would need to add the rest of the thought, such as "Although the clouds were dark, we still decided to go for a walk."
Conjunctions are an essential part of the English language that helps you sound more natural when you use complex sentences. English has three types of conjunctions: coordinating, subordinating, and paired conjunctions. Each type has a slightly different purpose and function.
When using conjunctions in a sentence, it's important to make sure that the grammar is correct. The most important rule is that when using coordinating conjunctions to join two independent clauses, a comma must be used before the conjunction. When using a subordinating conjunction to join a dependent clause to an independent clause, a comma is not necessary. Finally, when using a paired conjunction to join two independent clauses, you must add commas before and after the conjunction.
Now that you know the basics, you should be able to easily add conjunctions to your own everyday speech!