Grammar: Conjunction

Posted December 22, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Grammar Explanations, Self-Editing, Writing

Conjunctions are a hardworking bit of grammar, which enable writers to create much more interesting sentences. The most common conjunction is the coordinating conjunction to which our teachers applied the FANBOYS acronym.

Naturally, grammarians went wild with more categories…

Grammar Explanations is…

…an evolving list of the structural rules and principles that determines where words are placed in phrases or sentences as well as how the language is spoken. Sometimes I run across an example that helps explain better or another “also known as”. Heck, there’s always a better way to explain it, so if it makes quicker and/or better sense, I would appreciate suggestions and comments from anyone on an area of grammar with which you struggle or on which you can contribute more understanding.

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Conjunction
Credit to: Textbroker.com; Bruckmyer, 52-58; Wilson, 26; Towson.edu; English Grammar; Chomp Chomp
Definition: Conjunctions have one job, to connect two thoughts or ideas. They join words, phrases, or clauses together to clarify what the writer is saying and provide smooth transitions from one idea to another. Because the purpose of a conjunction is to join, it should not be used at the beginning of a sentence.

POST CONTENTS:
Two Main Types:

  1. Coordinating Conjunction
  2. Subordinating Conjunction
Three Forms:

  1. Single
  2. Compound
  3. Correlative

Other Word Classes May Function as Conjunctions:

I particularly like an example Bruckmyer provides on how a conjunction connects things:

  • The ship was heavily plated with steel.
  • The ice was 20-feet thick.
  • The bow was reinforced and fitted with an ice cutter.
  • The ship could make no headway.

Using conjunctions, the sentences become:

The ship was heavily plated with steel, but the ice was 20-feet thick, so, although the bow was reinforced and fitted with an ice cutter, the ship could make no headway.

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Types of Conjunctions:
Coordinating Definition (& Function): Joins two parts of a sentence that are equal: words to words (adverbs to adverbs, nouns to nouns, adjectives to adjectives, etc.), phrases to phrases, clauses to clauses, so you can see it does not mean they are two independent clauses. The coordinating conjunction always comes between the two parts they are joining (English Club).

A.k.a., coordinator, coordinate structure

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Legend:

  1. Green indicates the comma & coordinating conjunction

Word to Word:
Cheese and wine go together so well.
(noun to noun)

Jack and Jill went up the hill.
(proper noun to proper noun)


Phrase to Phase:
That book is either in my backpack or on the shelf to go out.


Clause to Clause:
I like coffee, but I need a lot of milk and sugar in it.

The water was warm, but I didn’t go swimming.

I like wearing this helmet, but it doesn’t go with my pumps.

The day was cool, but we went on a picnic anyway.

Punctuation With Coordinating Conjunctions
Rule: Do NOT use a comma when joining two words/phrases/clauses.
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the conjunction

Word to Word:
milk and cookies


Phrase to Phrase:
a pot of tea or a cup of coffee


Clause to Clause:
You want me to do this because you know I like it.
Rule: Joining three or more words/phrases/clauses requires a comma between the elements
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the comma & conjunction

Word to Word:
coffee, tea, or me


Phrase to Phrase:
Do you want to see The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or Barefoot in the Park?


Clause to Clause:
Think about it, think about it some more, and think about it again.
Rule: Joining two independent clauses requires a comma before the coordinating conjunction (remember that a subordinating conjunction only works with a dependent clause).
Clause to Clause:
Jonas used up all the toilet paper, but he didn’t replace the roll.

Suzie stuck gum into Mary’s hair, so she had to go to the beauty parlor to get her hair cut.

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the comma & conjunction
List of Coordinating Conjunctions
and
but
for
nor
or
so
yet
either … or
neither … nor
Textbroker.com suggests using the following acronym to remember the most-often-used coordinating conjunctions: FANBOYS – For – And – Nor – But – Or – Yet – So
Adversative Conjunctions Definition: Expresses contrast between two statements and does not use a comma.
Return to top List of Adversative Conjunctions
but
nevertheless
still
whereas
while
yet
+++
Example:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the conjunction

The rope was thin but it was strong.

She is poor but she is happy.

He is hardworking whereas his brother is quite the reverse.

Cumulative or Copulative Conjunctions Definition: Adds one statement to another.
Return to top List of Cumulative or Copulative Conjunctions
and
as well as
both … and
not only … but also
Example:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the conjunction

Alice wrote the letters and Peter posted them.

The cow got up and walked away slowly.

Disjunctive or Alternative Conjunctions Definition: Presents two alternatives.
Return to top List of Disjunctive or Alternative Conjunctions
else
either … or
neither … nor
neither
nor
or
otherwise
+++
Example:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the conjunction

She must weep, or she will die.

Either he is mad, or he feigns madness.

They toil not, neither do they spin.

Neither a borrower, nor a lender be.

Illative Conjunctions Definition: Expresses something inferred from another statement or fact
Return to top List of Illative Conjunctions
for so
Example:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the conjunction

Somebody came, for I heard a knock at the door.

He must be asleep, for there is no light in his room.

He has been working hard, so he will pass.

Subordinating Definition & Function: Joins a subordinate dependent clause to a main clause. The subordinating conjunction generally appears at the beginning of the subordinate clause (English Club).

A.k.a., subordinator

Return to top Rule: Use a comma between a dependent clause and an independent clause when the dependent clause is placed first in a sentence.
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the dependent clause
  2. Blue indicates the subordinate conjunction
  3. Orange indicates the independent clause

Although it was cold, I went swimming.

Because my car broke down, I had to take the bus.

When the movie was over, we went out for pizza.

Rule: Do NOT separate with a comma when the independent clause is placed first and the dependent clause second.
I was going to take the class though it wasn’t necessary for my degree.

I went swimming although it was cold.

I had to take the bus because my car broke down.

We went out for pizza when the movie was over.

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the subordinate dependent clause
  2. Blue indicates the subordinate conjunction
List of Subordinating Conjunctions
after
although
as
as far as *
as if *
as long as *
as much asas long as *as soon as *
assuming
assuming that *
as though *
at least
before
but that *
even if *
even though *
how
if
inasmuch as *
in case
in case that *
in order that *
insofar as *
in that *
lest
because
no matter how *
now that *
once
provided that *
rather than *
since
soon
so that *
supposing
supposing that *
than
that
though
’til
unless
until
when
whenever
where
whereas
wherever
whether
while
why
* Complex conjunction
Forms for Conjunctions:
Single Definition: Exactly that, just one word. See the list of subordinating conjunctions above for single words, i.e., “after”, “before”, “since”, etc.
Compound Definition: More than one word and usually ending with as or that. See the list of subordinating conjunctions above for words marked with a single *.
Correlative Rule: These are required conjunction pairs. Always use them in this the order noted here, but also use a parallel construction.
Return to top both … and
either … or
neither … nor
not only … but also
YES NO
She was not only his wife, but also his second cousin.

Not only was she his wife, but she was his second cousin also.

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the conjunction pairs

She was not only his wife, but also she was his second cousin.

Either she was going to the conference, or she wasn’t planning to attend. Or she wasn’t planning to attend, either she was going … well, okay, this one is rather obviously wrong…
Other Word Classes That May Function as Conjunctions
A.k.a., pseudo-conjunction
Conjunctive Adverb Definition: Use when connecting ideas to ease the transition between ideas in a sentence or between sentences. They do this by showing comparison, contrast, sequence, cause-effect or other relationships between ideas (K12Reader).
Return to top List of Conjunctive Adverbs
accordingly
also
anyhow
besides
consequently
conversely
finally
for example
furthermore
hence
henceforth
however
immediately
in addition
indeed
in fact
instead
likewise
meanwhile
moreover
namely
nevertheless
next
nonetheless
notwithstanding
now
otherwise
similarly
so
still
subsequently
then
thereby
therefore
thus
yet
Joins Two Independent Clauses Rule: Conjunctive adverb acts like a coordinating conjunction BUT requires a semicolon, NOT a comma, to join the clauses
Return to top Form: independent clause ; conjunctive adverb , independent clause
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the independent clause
  2. Blue indicates the punctuation required and its conjunctive adverb

The dark skies and distant thunder dissuaded Clarice from her afternoon run; moreover, she had thirty calculus problems to solve for her morning class.

Marge’s deep freeze doesn’t hold more than fifty pounds of meats; otherwise, she would have picked up more venison.

The dog chased down his prey; then, to the child’s delight, Rover licked his laughing face.

Introduce,
Interrupt,
Conclude
Rule: Introduce, interrupts, or concludes a single independent clause. Commas are often needed to separate the conjunctive adverb from the rest of the sentence.
Return to top Example:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the conjunctive adverb

Introduce
Instead, he was flirting with the pretty waitress at the coffee house.

Interrupt
This young man is determined, nevertheless, to take her to dinner one night soon.

Conclude
He did wash his dusty hands, however.

Weak
Breaks,
Interruptions
Rule: If the break or interruption is weak, do not use a comma(s). And this is where English is so typical. It’s up to you to decide if your use of the conjunctive adverb is weak or strong. It’s your intention that counts: are you making a point here? Then it’s strong. If the conjunctive adverb is simply bridging two clauses, then it’s weak and does not use a comma.
Return to top Example:
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the weak conjunctive adverb

Anna called to say her car would not start. Rafael will therefore have to walk to school.

The long noodles splashed tomato sauce all over the front of Brenda’s shirt. Ordering fettuccine was a mistake indeed.

Nominal Conjunction Definition: Functions as a noun.
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Legend:

  1. Green indicates the nominal conjunction

The moment he comes, I’ll let you know.

Every time she says that, I cringe.

I’ll call you the instant I get home.

Verbal Conjunction Definition: Derived from a verb
Return to top List of Verbal Conjunctions
assuming (that)
granted (that)
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the verbal conjunction

I’ll call you, seeing as you are here.

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