Constructing effective sentences for your essays or other types of writing is essential to ensure the audience easily understands you. Many parts make up effective sentences, one of which is conjunctions.1
This article will discuss conjunctions, the most frequently asked questions regarding these words, the main types of conjunctions, and how to use them.
Conjunctions are joining words that connect phrases, other words, and clauses to make complete sentences.2
The English language has numerous joining words, but the most common ones include: when, and, because, or, if, and for.
Types of conjunctions
There are three major types of conjunctions, as explained below:
Correlative conjunctions are coupled—meaning they work in pairs to connect grammatically equal elements of a sentence.
Some common correlative pairs include both & and, either & or, not only & but also, and neither & nor. You don’t have to place a comma when using correlative conjunctions.
Use a parallel structure for both sentence elements when using correlative conjunctions. This means the two components should have a similar grammatical form.
There are only seven of these words in English, and they join grammatically equal items like two phrases, words, or independent clauses. These joining words appear between the items they’re linking.
As a student, you could use the mnemonic FANBOYS to memorize them: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.
Coordinating conjunctions connect two verbs, adjectives, phrases, nouns, or any other type of word.
Note: You should not use a comma when joining two verbs, adjectives, nouns, or different word types.
A clause has, in the least, a subject and a verb. An independent clause is a clause that stands on its own and still creates a complete thought.
When a coordinating conjunction joins two independent clauses, place a comma before it.
Also, notice that these two sentences can still make sense alone. That is:
These words are mainly used to introduce dependent clauses when using words like: until, because, although, if, while, and since.
Dependent or subordinate clauses are words that contain a subject and a verb, but can’t make a complete sentence on their own.3
For this reason, dependent clauses must have an independent clause to make sense.
|Dependent clause||Because I had work to do the next morning.|
|Independent clause||I had to sleep early.|
|Complete sentence||I had to sleep early because I had work to do the next morning.|
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You may have noticed that you don’t place a comma when the subordinating conjunction follows after an independent clause.
However, it would help to put a comma after the dependent clause when the subordinating conjunction begins a sentence.
Subordinating conjunctions help define the type of relationships between the clauses. Here are some of these words and the relationships they help express:
|Cause and effect||as, since, because|
|Time||after, before, once, while, whenever, since, when|
|Condition||in case, if, unless|
|Contrast||though, although, whereas|
Starting a sentence with a conjunction
Novice authors are often advised not to begin sentences using conjunctions. However, you can start a sentence using joining words to indicate contrast, create emphasis, and more.
Also, note that this usage is widely accepted in literary and popular language, but is avoided in academic writing.
Additionally, subordinating conjunction may start a sentence only if the independent clause follows the dependent clause.
A dependent clause is a sentence fragment; you should avoid it in academic writing.
These words are vital because they connect complex ideas into simple-structured sentences.
Without these words, you would likely express your complex thoughts using multiple simple sentences, which might be ineffective; for example:
- I don’t like exercising.
- I like eating.
- I don’t like the weight I’m gaining.
In most cases, authors use these words to show the contrast between ideas and create a combination of sentence styles.4
Yes, however, one must be a subordinating conjunction (although, after, because, since, etc.) and the other a coordinating conjunction (yet, so, nor, but, etc.).
- She slipped and fell into the waters, but not because she was intoxicated.
Words like in brief, that is, to sum up, or to put it in another way may summarize or reword information. For example:
- Well, in brief, what does your article entail?
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1 Walden University. “Definition and Examples of Basic Sentence Elements.” Accessed September 05, 2022. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/grammar/sentencestructure.
2 Writing Explained. “What is a Phrase? Definition, Examples of English Phrases.” Accessed September 05, 2022. https://writingexplained.org/grammar-dictionary/phrase.
3 Cambridge Dictionary. “Clause.” Accessed September 05, 2022. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/clause.
4 MacPháidín Library. “Tutoring Services: Sentence Style.” August 22, 2022. https://libguides.stonehill.edu/c.php?g=16676&p=92720.