Conjunction – Definition

To truly understand, ‘what is a conjunction?’, is to understand what they do in a sentence. In short, without conjunctions, it would be very difficult to explain complex ideas. You’ll be required to express them in short and segmented sentences.

As for its definition, Conjunctions are words which connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences together. They allow you as a speaker to form elegant, complex and more fluid sentences and ideas rather than expressing your words in short segmented sentences such as “Apples are sweet. I love sweets. I love eating apples.”

Types of Conjunctions

  1. Coordinating Conjunction
  2. Correlative Conjunction
  3. Subordinating Conjunction
  4. Conjunctive Adverbs
Types Examples
Coordinating Conjunction for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so
Correlative Conjunction both/and, either/or, neither/nor, not only/but, whether/or, rather/or, hardly/when, as/as, no sooner/than, scarcely/when, what with/and,
Subordinating Conjunction 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, lest , now that, once, only, only if, provided that, since, so, supposing, that, than, though, till, unless, until, when, whenever, where, whereas, wherever, whether or not, while 
Conjunctive Adverbs Also, besides, furthermore, likewise, moreover, however, nevertheless, nonetheless, instead, conversely, otherwise, rather, accordingly, consequently, hence, meanwhile, then, therefore, thus

What is a Coordinating Conjunction?

Also known as coordinators, the definition of coordinating conjunction is in its name. They are words that coordinate or join two or more words, sentences, main clauses or other parts of speech together.

Coordinating conjunctions usually come in the middle of a sentence, and a comma is used before the conjunction. They join individual words, phrases and independent clauses.

There are seven coordinating conjunctions, and they can easily be remembered by the following acronym: FANBOYS.

  1. F – For
  2. A– And
  3. N – Nor
  4. B– But
  5. O – Or
  6. Y – Yet
  7. S – So

Taken from the first letter of each of the seven coordinating conjunctions, you can spell out FANBOYS. Now here are a few examples of how each one can be used in a sentence.

  • She hates working at the library but enjoys working at the shop.
  • He is happy with the results, yet he doesn’t smile.
  • My mom doesn’t like me playing video games, nor does she like me watching TV.
  • He is very skinny and tall.
  • She is either hungry or full.
  • She did her job well, so she can leave early.

What is a Correlative Conjunction?

Correlative conjunctions are pairs of conjunctions that work together and join phrases and words that carry equal value or importance within a sentence. They show the relationship between ideas expressed in different parts of a sentence.

To understand what a correlative conjunction is, you’ll want to see how they affect a sentence.

  • Sam is both rich and handsome.
  • I neither watch nor play baseball.
  • My dad is not only lazy, but also fat.
  • Would you rather go to the beach or the amusement park?
  • My mom supports me whether I fail or succeed.
  • No sooner had I closed my eyes than I fell asleep.
  • Hardly had he reached the station when the accident occurred.
  • Scarcely had she arrived when her date left.
  • As soon as we got there, everyone started cheering.

What is a Subordinating Conjunction?

Also called subordinators or subordinate conjunctions, a subordinating conjunction is a word that joins a dependent clause to an independent clause.

An independent clause is a clause that can stand alone as a sentence. It consists of a subject and a verb. A dependent clause or a subordinate clause is a clause that provides a sentence element with additional information but cannot stand alone as a sentence.

When both an independent clause and subordinate clause are joined together by a subordinating conjunction, a complex sentence can be formed. For example:

  • Denise went to work after she ate breakfast.
  • Although they worked hard on their project, they couldn’t achieve their goal.
  • As she walked into the store, she stumbled upon an antique vase.
  • It doesn’t matter if you failed as long as you tried your best.
  • Sarah got a perfect score on her exam because she studied countless hours.
  • He finished all his work before anyone could say anything.
  • Even if it hurts me, I’ll make sure to keep my word.
  • If it takes forever, I will wait for you.
  • Once everything is cleaned up, I’ll invite you over to my place.
  • Now that you’re here, we can start the party.
  • I know I’ll be okay since you got my back.
  • Smile though your heart is aching.
  • We’ll never know unless we try!
  • I worked hard while everyone else took a nap.

What is a Conjunctive Adverb?

To answer the question, ‘what is a conjunctive adverb?’ you’ll want to be able to familiarize yourself with what it can do and what its purpose is in English grammar.

A conjunctive adverb is a word that joins two independent clauses together. Similar to other adverbs, a conjunctive adverb can be moved around in the sentence or clause that it appears in. Conjunctive adverbs are usually not able to support two independent clauses without the proper punctuation.

If the conjunctive adverb appears on the second clause, you should always put a semicolon or period before the conjunctive adverb. The adverb will usually be followed up with a comma, unless it is a single syllable.

  • Simon bought a lot of party supplies; however, he didn’t use any of them.
  • My best friend is the most popular student in school; in addition, he’s very kind.
  • Jessie never did any of her homework; therefore, she failed all her classes.
  • My brother is very generous; nonetheless, he can still be a jerk.
  • I really don’t like my neighbor; in fact, she’s very rude to everyone.
  • Dennis is always late for school; likewise, his sister is always late as well.

A conjunctive adverb is also used in a single main clause. The comma is used to separate the conjunctive adverb from the sentence.

  • Mary didn’t go to school today. Instead, she went to the beach and enjoyed herself.
  • Ryan slept all day. Meanwhile, Jerry was doing both their house work by himself.
  • Tyron is an expert with computers. Moreover, he’s also handy with other appliances.
  • The law forbids texting and driving. Otherwise, there would be many accidents.

Although conjunctive adverbs look like coordinating conjunctions (FANBOYS), they differentiate by their punctuation style.

Bottom Line

Now that you’ve learned all about what is a conjunction, you’ll want to check out the other 8 parts of speech. Familiarize yourself with what is an interjection, noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, and preposition.

You can also master English by knowing how to use determiners properly. It’s always a good idea to review your English grammar by checking out ESL Workshop.

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