Types of conjunctions

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Tutor: Jonathan

Summary

Types of conjunctions

​​In a nutshell

Conjunctions are connecting words. They connect two or more words, clauses or sentences together. There are three basic types of conjunctions: coordinating, subordinating and correlative conjunctions. 



Coordinating conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions are words that join two or more (main) clauses together. As mentioned in previous lessons, the easiest way to remember the coordinating conjunctions is by memorising the mnemonic device, FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).


Compound sentences

A compound sentence consists of two simple sentences (i.e. two main clauses) compounded (combined) using coordinating conjunctions.


You can tell if a sentence is a compound sentence by taking away the coordinating conjunction and putting a full stop in its place. If both sentences make sense on their own, you've got yourself a compound sentence. Remember to add a comma before the coordinating conjunction.


Examples

He sits in the sun, and eats butter popcorn.

It was raining, so I took an umbrella.



Subordinating conjunctions

A subordinating conjunction begins a subordinate clause. ​Subordinate clauses provide sentences with extra detail and cannot stand alone as a sentence.


Examples

I won't buy any new trainers unless I can afford them.

Before he skydives, the fox will test his parachute.


Note: When the subordinating conjunction falls in the middle of the sentence (as in the first example) then no comma needs to come before it. However, when a subordinate clause begins a sentence (as in the second example), the whole clause is followed by a comma (not directly after the subordinating conjunction).


There are many subordinating conjunctions in English (about 50), but for the sake of this lesson, 17 of the most common ones will be listed.


List of subordinating conjunctions

after
now that
although
since
as
though
as long as
unless
because
until
before
when
even if
where
if
while
once


Subordinate conjunctions introducing adjective clauses

Relative pronouns (acting as subordinate conjunctions) might also begin a subordinate clause to add more information about a subject.


Examples

The woman, whose purse was stolen, went to the police station.

The man that was arrested was later proven to be innocent.


The underlined part adds information about the subject, 'the woman, 'or 'the man.' This kind of subordinate clause is called an adjective clause because like an adjective, it modifies or describes a noun.


List of relativising subordinating conjunctions

that
whom
which
whose
whichever
whosever
who
whomever
whoever



Correlative conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are used to show how two words or phrases within a sentence correlate (relate to each other). This type of conjunction always comes in pairs. Correlative conjunctions must use a parallel structure, which means the two elements should use the same grammatical form. In other words, the same part of speech should be used and all the elements should serve the same function.


List of the most common correlative conjunction pairs

either/or
both/and
neither/nor
as many/as
such/that
no sooner/than
whether/or
rather/than
not only/but also


Examples

Either you're with me or against me.

I went to both London and Paris last year.


Note: Commas are usually not used to separate correlative conjunctions from each other.


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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

What are correlative conjunctions?

What are subordinating conjunctions?

What are coordinating conjunctions?

What are the different types of conjunctions?

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