The complexity of the English language relies on our ability to connect ideas, thoughts, and phrases so that we can communicate meaning.
We rely on words like conjunctions to make our sentences longer and more fluid, allowing us to link phrases and ideas to clarify what they refer to.
What Is a Conjunction?
A conjunction is a connective word used to join clauses or phrases or coordinate words in the same clause.
Types of Conjunctions
There are two main types of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions. The latter type usually creates a more complex sentence.
A coordinating conjunction is used to link two independent clauses together.
Below are the seven coordinating conjunctions:
An acronym used to remember the seven is FANBOYS.
A subordinating conjunction is used to link a dependent clause to an independent clause. The dependent clause cannot stand alone as a sentence, so the subordinating conjunction is essential for linking the two components together into a grammatically correct sentence.
Below are some examples of subordinating conjunctions:
- As far as
- In order
- Even though
- As long as
One rule of using conjunctions to lengthen sentences is to employ correlative conjunctions: pairs of conjunctions that can be coordinating conjunction with a subordinating conjunction or two of the same type.
Below are a few examples of correlative conjunctions:
- Both… and
- Not only… but also
- Either… or
- Such… that
- No sooner… than
- Neither… nor
Another rule for correctly using conjunctions is to connect similar words, such as using the conjunction and when creating a shopping list because all the things on the list are food items, or using the conjunctive but to state that you like tennis but don’t like hockey because both are sports.
It is always important to ensure that your sentences are still grammatically correct when you use conjunctive.
Below are ten rules to remember for commonly used conjunctions:
- Between is followed by and.
- From is followed by to.
- Until indicates time, unless indicates an action.
- Both are followed by and.
- Although and though can both be followed by either yet or a comma.
- Lest is followed by should or the first form of the verb (the verb must make sense without the should if you choose the latter).
- Rather and other are both followed by than.
- You can make comparisons using the pairs so… as and as… as in negative sentences.
- Neither of means none of the two, whereas either of means one of the two.
- You must say seldom or never. You cannot shorten that conjunction to just seldom or ever.
Learn more about the list of conjunctions and conditional conjunctions.
Conjunctions vs. Transition Words
Transition words are used to connect two sentences or paragraphs, so they give sentences a broader flair than conjunction words do. You can also use transition words to literally transition the tone of the ideas you are connecting, typically by connecting another sentence or paragraph to oppose the former part of the idea, or to place emphasis on a phrase.
Common transition words include, however, furthermore, consequently, nonetheless, following, subsequently, indeed, whereas and in addition. Where the conjunction brings two clauses together to form a longer sentence, transition words introduce a change by addition, emphasis, contrast, or order, changing the tone of the sentence by connecting contrasting or more informative phrases.
- Conjunction: I went to town and bought a cup of coffee.
- Transition: I went to town and bought a cup of coffee. Subsequently, I went home to drink it.
- Conjunction: We cooked chicken, potatoes, and vegetables for dinner.
- Transition: We cooked chicken, potatoes, and vegetables for dinner; however, we burned the chicken in the oven.
- Conjunction: It was raining all day, yet I still took the dog for a walk.
- Transition: It was raining all day, yet I still took the dog for a walk. Consequently, I got very wet and later came down with a cold.
Conjunctions | Infographic