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Overview of Conjunctions

Conjunctions connect two words, phrases, or sentences.

There are four kinds of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions and correlative conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs. We do not really need to know these grammar terms. Instead, we just need to know these words and how they are used.

Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions connect two words or two independent sentences into one sentence.

There are seven coordinating conjunctions.

andbutornor
foryetso
  • I like coffee and tea.
  • She likes to sing and he likes to play guitar.
We will cover these more in other lessons.

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions connect a sentence with a subordinate clause. A subordinate clause is a group of words that form part of a sentence. A subordinate clause cannot be a sentence on its own.

Some examples of a subordinate clause are:
  • before she came
  • after we ate
  • when it rang
These cannot be sentences on their own. They need another part.
  • We got ready before she came.
  • We went outside after we ate.
  • She jumped up in surprise when it rang.
There are many subordinating conjunctions. Here are the ones that you need to know.

afteralthoughasas if
as long asas much asas soon asas though
becausebefore by the timeeven if
even thoughifonceonly if
provided thatsinceso thatthan
thatthoughunlessuntil
whenwheneverwhereverwhile

Most of these can be put at the beginning or middle of a sentence. When the subordinating conjunction is at the beginning of a sentence, then separate the two parts with a comma (this sentence is a perfect example!).
  • Even though it rained, we went to the game.
  • We went to the game even though it rained.

  • I can't go unless I finish my work first.
  • Unless I finish my work first, I cannot go.
We will cover most of these in other lessons.

Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are used in pairs. Here are the five that we need to know.
  • both...and...
  • either...or...
  • neither...nor...
  • not only...but also...
We will study these more in a later lesson.

Conjunctive Adverbs

Here is a list of the conjunctive adverbs that we should know.

accordinglyalsobesidesconsequently
converselyfinallyfurthermorehence
howeverindeedinsteadlikewise
meanwhilemoreoverneverthelessnext
nonethelessotherwisesimilarlystill
subsequentlythenthereforethus

We usually use these at the beginning of a sentence.
  • Our profits have been falling steadily for three straight quarters. Therefore, we just must consider changing our business strategy.
We use a semi-colon (;) before the conjunctive adverb and a comma (,) after it when we use conjunctive adverbs in the middle of a sentence. The semi-colon gives a stronger break or interruption than a comma. It shows that the two parts are more independent.
  • Her sales numbers are down; moreover, she has been causing problems with other colleagues.
Note: This doesn't matter when you are speaking. When you are speaking, it will just seem like two separate sentences.

We can also use them in a middle of a sentence if the break is weak.
  • It is cold. I will therefore stay inside today.
We will study all of the English conjunctions in more detail in the following lessons. There are also many other lessons to help you learn other English grammar points, improve your English speaking, and everything else you want to know about the English language.

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