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What’s a Conjunction in English Grammar?

by | Feb 18, 2021 | Grammar

Conjunctions have one primary function: to connect words, phrases, and clauses. You can think of conjunctions like referees in sports games because they help keep your sentences inline or coordinate various parts of your sentence, so they make sense. Conjunctions better show your reader what parts of your sentence are related to other parts. Since conjunctions have several different uses, they can be difficult to spot, so we’ll go over each kind in more detail in this lesson.

Understanding Coordinating Conjunctions

In the most general sense, you can think of a conjunction as a single word that joins other words or groups of words together. The same way a referee coordinates a game, conjunctions help coordinate the order or your words so they make sense.

Coordinating conjunctions join words or groups of words that have equal grammatical weight in a sentence.

Ever heard of the phrase fanboys? This is an acronym for all of the words that are considered coordinating conjunctions for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

Example: Sally baked a cake for Sue.

Example: Sally wanted to bake a cake for Sue, but she didn’t have time.

Understanding Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions work in pairs to join words and groups of words of equal weight in a sentence.

Both… andNeither… nor
Either… orNot only… but (also)
Just as… soWhether… or

Example: Both Raheem and Brandon graduated with a 4.0 GPA.

Example: Neither Colby nor Wendi were able to go to the movie that afternoon.

Although they are similar to coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions can make the relationship between words or groups of words clearer than coordinating conjunctions can.

8 parts of speech

Understanding Subordinating Conjunctions

A subordinating conjunction connects an independent clause to the dependent clause. An independent clause is a portion of a sentence that can stand alone as it’s own sentence, while a dependent clause adds additional information to the sentence, but can’t stand alone (more on these later!).

AfterAs thoughProvided thatUntil
AsBeforeAs long asWhenever
As far as Considering thatSo thatWhere
As if IfThanWhereas
As long asInasmuch asThoughWherever
As soon asIn order thatUnlessWhile

Example: As soon as I get home, I’m taking a long nap.

Example: As long as Mira got her way, she wouldn’t throw a tantrum.

Understanding Conjunctive Verbs

On occasion, adverbs will help in connecting parts of your sentence to help with clarity. When this happens, we’ll call them conjunctive adverbs. Conjunctive adverbs help clarify the relationship between phrases, clauses, and words.


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Rachelle Scott
By Rachelle Scott

Rachelle obtained her BFA in creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in popular fiction and publishing at Emerson College. In addition to her contributions to Writer’s Hive Media, Rachelle teaches adult learning courses in English and history.


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