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Conjunctions

Have you seen how children write when theyre first learning? They write in short little sentences that sound rather robotic: My name is Anna. I am five years old. I am a girl. I have a mother. I have a father. I have a brother. I have a cat. I like hot dogs. When they get a little older, they learn to connect some of those sentences so its not so choppy: My name is Anna, and I am five years old. I am a girl. I have a mother, a father, a brother, and a cat. I like hot dogs. Notice the use of and; thats the magic key to not sounding like a robot. And is a conjunction; conjunctions are one of the things we use to connect ideas to create a smoothly flowing sentence which is clearly understandable to the reader. Conjunctions are great things, but you can have too much of a good thing. When conjunctions are overused, you have run-on sentences.

What Are Conjunctions


Conjunctions are little words like and, but, and or. Theyre used to connect concepts, clauses, or parts of sentences. I was going to see a movie, but Ive changed my mind. She couldnt decide if she wanted the lemon tea or the rosehip tea.

Uses of Conjunctions
Conjunctions connect thoughts, ideas, actions, nouns, clauses, etc. Martha went to the market and bought fresh vegetables. In this sentence, the conjunction and connects the two things Martha did. Martha went to the market, and I went to the hardware store. Here, and connects two sentences, preventing the choppiness which would arise if we used too many short sentences. Conjunctions can also make lists. I cant decide between the blue shirt and the red shirt. We barbequed hamburgers, hotdogs, and sausages.

When using a conjunction, make sure that the parts which are being joined by the conjunction have a parallel structure (i.e. that they use the same verb forms, etc.) I worked quickly yet am careful. Am careful is not in the same form as quickly; this creates faulty parallelism. The verbs need to be in the same form. I worked quickly yet carefully. The two adverbs modify the verb worked. I am quick yet careful. The two adjectives modify the pronoun I.

Coordinating Conjunctions
The coordinating conjunctions are conjunctions that join two independent clauses, or two nouns, or two verbs, etc. You can remember the coordinating conjunctions with the acronym FANBOYS. F or A nd N or B ut Or Y et So Run and hide! The coordinating conjunction connects the two verbs. We didnt have much money, but we were happy. Here are two contrasting states of being: not having much money, and being happy. We didnt have much money or much food. I had chocolate cake, and Michael had carrot cake. Note the commas before the coordinating conjunctions which separate two independent clauses.

Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are pairs of conjunctions that work together. Some examples areeither/or, neither/nor and not only/but. Not only am I finished studying for English, but Im also finished my history essay. I am finished both my English essay and my history essay. Make sure that you use both conjunctions when writing. Sometimes when we speak, we get a little lazy; dont leave a clause unfinished or else youll have a problem with faulty parallelism. You could use either. This is alright for conversation because youll have something in front of you to point to, giving you a visual clue. You could use either the spoon. This is an unfinished sentence; there is a problem with faulty parallelism here. You could use either the spoon or the fork. This sentence is perfect because it lists both things to be used.

Subordinating Conjunctions
Subordinating conjunctions show a relationship between an independent and a dependent clause; some of the relationships can be cause-and-effect, and contrast. Some examples of subordinating conjunctions are because, since, as, although, though, while, andwhereas. I can stay out until the clock strikes twelve. Here, the subordinating conjunction is connecting the two ideas: I can stay out and the clock strikes twelve. He can leave the house as long as he has cleaned his room. The teacher said that he was amazingly creative. The subordinating conjunction doesnt need to go in the middle of the sentence. It must be part of the dependent clause, but it doesnt matter whether the clause is the first or second on in the sentence. Before he leaves, make sure his room is clean. If the dependent clause comes first, youll need a comma; if the independent clause comes first, you probably wont need a comma. I drank a glass of water because I was thirsty. Because I was thirsty , I drank a glass of water.

When she asked why I wanted a glass of water, I could only answer Because , because I was so thirsty. Ive used a comma in this sentence only to separate the repeated because; this makes it clearer to the reader.

Conjunctive Adverbs
Conjunctive adverbs are adverbs which join two clauses; some examples of are also,besides, accordingly, finally, subsequently, therefore, thus, meanwhile, moreover, nonetheless, instead, however, indeed, hence, consequently, similarly and still. Conjunctive adverbs frequently (but not necessarily) have a semi-colon before them. As theyre conjunctions (i.e. words that join two thoughts or ideas), its best not to use them at the beginning of a sentence. Please close the outer door; otherwise , the cold air comes in. First feed the horses; next , please feed the chickens. Conjunctive adverbs can also put a little break in the sentence, providing emphasis. The new building will, furthermore , provide storage facilities as well as meeting space. The commas are used around the conjunctive adverb for emphasis. If the interruption in the sentence should be weaker, just leave out the commas. The new building will furthermore provide storage facilities as well as meeting space.

Starting a Sentence with a Conjunction


If a conjunction is used at the beginning of a sentence, the reader may be looking for an idea to connect to the sentence. While using a conjunction at the beginning of a sentence can add emphasis, its an informal means of doing so. You can use it in creative or personal writing, but its not recommended for formal writing. Many people fear crashing in an airplane. But riding in a car is actually more dangerous. Beginning the second sentence with the conjunction but is not a good idea. It would be better to connect the sentences with a comma and but. Many people fear crashing in an airplane , but riding in a car is actually more dangerous. And when using the subjunctive, be sure to use it properly. We can take out the and at the beginning of the sentence; it serves no purpose. N.B. While the subject is a matter of debate, beginning a sentence with words like however and on the other hand is frequently frowned upon. It may be safer to connect the sentences with a semi-colon. I like the blue shirt ; however , the red one is nice, too.

Conjunctions List
Coordinating Conjunctions for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so Correlative Conjunctions both/and, either/or, neither/nor, not only/but, whether/or Some Subordinating Conjunctions after, although, as, as if, as long as, as much as, as soon as, as though, because, before, by the time, even if, even though, if, in order that, in case, in the event that, inasmuch, just in case, lest , now that, once, only, only if, provided that, since, so, supposing, that, than, that, though, till (or til), unless, until, when, whenever, where, whereas, wherever, whether or not, while