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Ken Ward's Writing Pages
Writing: Grammar: Parts of Speech

Main Page: Parts of Speech
Page Contents

  1. Conjunctions
      1. Coordinating Conjunctions
        1. Examples
      2. Subordinating Conjunctions
      3. Double Conjunctions (Correlatives)


Conjunctions are words or phrases that join two nouns, phrases or clauses. There are two types: coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.

Coordinating Conjunctions

The coordination kind join two grammatically equal elements, for instance, two main clauses. These conjunctions include:
for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so
Remembered with the mnemonic FANBOYS.

Other classes of words have a linking function. For instance, linking adverbs can link clauses together. The table below shows the four main functions of coordinating conjunctions. (The adverb column has been added for comparison).
Function Example Conjunctions Example Linking Adverbs
Addition and, nor furthermore
Alternative or alternatively
Contrast but, yet however
Inference for, so therefore


When they got there the place was empty and they found no evidence the place had been occupied recently. and joins the clause before to the one after. It does not indicate any particular relationship between them, and the clauses can be interchanged.
There was a bang and the lights went out. and joins the two clauses, but they cannot be interchanged. It tells us that event of the first clause comes before the event of the second.
She had waited all day but couldn't get in to see them. but joins the two clauses, indicating some contrast between them.
You can choose this one or that one, but not both. or joins the first and the second clauses, indicating an alternative. but joins the second and third clauses, indicating an exception
He always studied hard, yet he never seemed to do well. yet joins the two clauses, indicating a contrast.
He felt despondent, for he had searched all day, yet he had not found them. for joins the first two clauses indicating a cause or reason. yet joins the last two clauses, indicating a contrast.

The conjunction and sometimes tells us little or nothing about the relationship between the two clauses, but implies they belong together. Sometimes it means after that, and the first clause occurs earlier in time than the second. The other conjunctions in the table above tell us some relationship. For instance, yet tells us the two clauses are contrasted. If the only conjunction we can think of to relate two clauses is and, then we should make sure the two clauses really belong together.

For instance:
The police and the doctors are trying to find out the cause of death.
The police and the doctors are seeking the same end, discovering the cause of death. So they belong together in the sentence.

Mary is beautiful. She has a pretty face and plays the violin.
If the topic is beauty, we might wonder how and plays the violin is relevant.

Subordinating Conjunctions

While the coordinating conjunctions join two equal parts of the sentence, the subordinating conjunctions join a modifying clause to a main clause. Subordinating conjunctions include:
time When he comes, I will be ready.
Before the clock struck seven, they had assembled in the road.
After the sun rises, we will set out on our journey.
Once we have the information, we will begin the analysis.
place The city was located where the old castle had been.
comparison They were as ready as they would ever be.
He was as tall as she was (tall).
condition The church bells will ring, if the Vikings land.
Unless we stay till late, we can get a bus home.
contrast Although she was very popular, she wasn't pretty.
She was a good actress, while he was only a mediocre actor.
He used to be reckless, whereas now he is cautious.
cause or reason The bomb went off because they lit the fuse.
She was annoyed, as they had not completed the work.
All had been forgotten, since it was long ago.

Double Conjunctions (Correlatives)

Coordinating double conjunctions join two equal clauses:
Correlating Conjunctions
Double Conjunction Example
both...and He told them both where to go and how to get there.
either...or She could either have one week abroad or two weeks at home.
neither...nor It was neither possible nor advisable.
not only...but (also) She was not only their mentor, but also their friend.

Subordinating double conjunctions
join two clauses: one clause is subordinated to the other.
Subordinating Double Conjunctions
Double Conjunction Example
if ...then If he had told the truth, then he wouldn't be in trouble. 
scarcely...when Scarcely had she gone out, when he arrived. 
hardly...when He had hardly finished cleaning the car, when they arrived.
more...than No one loves you more truly than I.
less...than He was less a rogue than a fool.
so...that She was so angry that she could have cried. 
such...that The place was such a problem in terms of maintenance that he sold it.

Ken Ward's Writing Pages

The Last Place in Space
- by Ken Ward

When pilot Philip Turner is accidentally transported by an anomaly and marooned on an unknown planet, he discovers the planet is threatened by a group of ruthless aliens similarly marooned. With the help of a group of young women with superpowers, and a powerful being called a god, he reluctantly uses his advanced knowledge and technology to help the planet's inhabitants, but will he succeed when outnumbered by aliens, opposed by greedy and squabbling kings, and limited by his gentle nature and moral beliefs? Paperback and Kindle:
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The Last Place in Space