What are conjunctions? Conjunctions join words or groups of words together.

The most common ones
are and, or, and but.

There is no simple rule about whether you should use a comma before a conjunction. The rules on that are
quite complicated (covered below).

You can start a sentence with a conjunction, but you shouldn't do it too often.

What Are Conjunctions?
Conjunctions are used to join words or groups of words together. The most common
ones are and, or, and but. (There are many others.)

Read more about conjunctions in the glossary of terms.

Types of Conjunctions
Conjunctions can be categorized into one of three groupings:

Coordinating Conjunctions
Coordinating conjunctions are the ones that spring to mind when people think about
conjunctions. They include and, but, or, nor, for, so, and yet.

Coordinating conjunctions are used to join individual words, phrases,
andindependent clauses.

Coordinating Conjunctions Joining Individual Words:

 Jamie, Adam, and Lee arranged to meet by The Bull at 7 o'clock.

 It is a small but practical kitchen.
Coordinating Conjunctions Joining Individual Phrases:

 The finance manager or his new deputy from Holland will notify you when the
report is ready to send.

 John or his new deputy from Holland will notify you when the report is ready to
send.
(You can join a mix of words and phrases with a coordinating conjunction. Here, the
conjunction or groups the word John and the phrase his new deputy from Holland.)
Coordinating Conjunctions Joining Individual Clauses:

 A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely
fatal. (Oscar Wilde)
(Here, the conjunction and joins two independent clauses.)

 We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. (Oscar
Wilde)

 History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it. (Winston Churchill)
The word coordinating means of equal rank. Usually, the elements joined by a
coordinating conjunction are of equal rank. It is unusual, but possible, to see a mix of

nor. it's the word and. these groups joined by a coordinating conjunction.. if. The guidelines are explained in the lesson Conjunctions and Commas. that. (Groucho Marx) Subordinating Conjunctions Subordinating conjunctions include: after. and while.. and not only. Comma before And in a List? Most lists look like this:  Thing... till.whether.or. Unfortunately. but do notfor get that the cigarette lighter was inventedbefore t he match. although I do not always like being taught. because.  Keep your hand on the wound until the nurse asks you to take it off. where. another thing. For example. such as: Never put a comma before and.. neither.but also. whether. since.  Personally I'm always ready to learn. and the final thing. before. as. Correlative Conjunctions Correlative conjunctions appear in pairs. Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)  We can't all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by. The big question is whether the comma before the and is right or wrong. They are used to show the relationship between an independent clause adependent clause. Will Rogers (1879-1935) Click on the coordinating conjunctions: I know it seems unlikely and illogical. either. another thing.. but writers are sometimes confused about when to place a comma before a conjunction.. although. though. than.. there is no simple rule.or. In this case. Errors with Conjunctions Conjunctions do not normally cause serious errors. when.once. The conjunction sits before the final thing. .  This man is either dead or my watch has stopped. u ntil.

when there are more than two list items. and Sarah were all there. people could think that Dangermouse and Rug Rats is one programme. and Rug Rats. (There is no need for a comma with just (There is no need for a comma with just two list items. (The word and appears lots of times in this example.) two list items. milk and butter. there is no need for a comma before the conjunction.) Here's a real example:  I know George and Toby. milk  She went to the shop for eggs. This could be for the sake of tidiness or to eliminate ambiguity. Harrow.) The whole world is agreed on not needing a comma with just two list items. and butter. milk. Some people consider the Oxford Comma to be a waste of ink. Watford.  Carl.  She went to the shop for eggs. (Watford and Bushey could be one place. When there are just two list items. In general terms.)  The emblem is an amalgamation of the British and Irish flags. David and Sarah were all there. Pinner. while others strongly campaign for its inclusion. (No comma required before the and. The comma before the conjunction is called an Oxford Comma. there. There is another quirk.  Carl. David and Sarah were all there. Followers of the Oxford Comma Avoiders of the Oxford Comma (generally Americans) (generally Brits)  I went to the shop for eggs and  I went to the shop for eggs and butter. The comma before theand makes it easier for the reader to identify the list items.) .  Carl. the Oxford Comma is more common in the US than it is in the UK (despite it being called the Oxford Comma).  She went to the shop for eggs. For example:  The news will be shown after Dangermouse.)  She went to the shop for eggs. (No comma is required because it is a list containing just two list items. However. milk. like Bath and Wells. the Stars andStripes. and butter. and the Hammer and Sickle.)  The train will stop at Watford. David. and Bushey. (Without the comma. the world is divided on whether there should be a comma. You have to pick a convention and stick with it. butter. For example:  Thing and the final thing. David. and butter. There is no right answer. and Sarah were all  Carl. it may be appropriate to use a comma with the conjunction in a simple list (even a list with just two list items). On occasion.

It is usual to follow each with a comma. this practice is considered acceptable. this wasn't it. STARTING A SENTENCE WITH A CONJUNCTION In the past. (Groucho Marx) The two most common conjunctions used in this way are And (meaning In addition) and But (meaning However). If you find yourself using them too often. schools were rigid in their ruling that sentences could not start with conjunctions. However. But. Whilst it is acceptable to use And or Butto start a sentence. I have a new theory. such as And or But.  I was certain Petrovski did it for financial gain. having read his diary.  I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. you should consider changing the style of your writing. nowadays. But. Starting your sentences with conjunctions will annoy your readers if you do it too often. this practice should be limited and only used for impact or to control the flow of text. .