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English, French, and Math Support: Conjunctions

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A conjunction is a word or group of words that connects other words, phrases or clauses. The correct use of conjunctions is essential in proper sentence structure.

This tip sheet describes four types of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and conjunctive adverbs.

Coordinating conjunctions

A coordinating conjunction joins related words, phrases or clauses of equal rank.

The seven coordinating conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

Use the word mnemonic "FANBOYS" to remember these. A word mnemonic is a word formed from the first letter of each word in a list of items.

Example of two independent clauses

Subject     +     Conjunction     +     Subject

The politicians and the teachers voted for the reform.

Correlative conjunctions

Use correlative conjunctions in pairs to join two words, clauses or phrases that are essentially parallel in structure.

Below are some of the most common correlative conjunctions.

both . . . . . .and

either. . . . . or

not . . . . . . . but

neither  . . . nor

whether . . or

She excels not only in soccer but also in basketball.
Harold has not one but two undergraduate degrees.
Both the staff and the students went to the party.
I predict that the skies will be either pale grey or charcoal coloured tomorrow.


Subordinating conjunctions

A subordinating conjunction joins words, phrases or clauses of unequal rank.

Below are some of the most common subordinating conjunctions.

although    because    before    after    while    wherever    unless    if    through    since    until    as if    so that    during    whenever

Subordinating conjunction  +  Subordinate clause  +  Comma  +  Independent clause

Before she cooked dinner, she called her friend.

She called her friend before she cooked dinner.

If the sentence begins with a subordinate clause, use a comma. If the sentence begins with an independent
clause, a comma is not usually necessary.


Conjunctive adverbs

Conjunctive adverbs are also known as “transitional words” that join independent clauses.

Below are some common conjunctive adverbs.

thus    hence    therefore    however    otherwise    nevertheless    furthermore    consequently    then    indeed    moveover    likewise    nonetheless    meanwhile    accordingly    as a result

Independent clause  +  Semi-colon followed by conjunctive adverb  +  Independent clause

She wanted to improve her math grades; therefore, she decided to get a math tutor.

Note that the above example could be written as two simple sentences:

She wanted to improve her math grades. Therefore, she decided to get a math tutor. Please see the Sentence structure basics tip sheet for more details.

Conjunctions -- Printable format

If you would prefer to have the above information in a printable, PDF format, please click here:

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