There are three aspects we use to consider conjunctions. The three are form, function, and position.
There are three basic forms of conjunctions:
- Single Word
Examples: and, but, because, although
- Compound – usually ending with as or that
Examples: provided that, as long as, in order that
- Correlative – surrounding an adverb or an adjective
There are two basic functions for the conjunctions:
- Coordinating conjunctions – When two parts of a sentence are grammatically equal, we use a coordinating conjunction to join them. The two parts might be single words or clauses.
Example: John and Jane went to the mall.
Example: The ice cream was melting, but I still didn’t eat it.
- Subordinating conjunctions – When you need to join a main clause and a subordinate dependent clause, you use a subordinating conjunction.
Example: I called him although I was still angry.
- Coordinating conjunctions – always placed between the words or clauses they join
- Subordinating conjunctions – usually placed at the beginning of a subordinate clause
A coordinating conjunction is a short, simple conjunction. Examples: and, but, or, nor, for, yet, so
You will use those coordinating conjunctions to join words or independent clauses that are grammatically equal or similar to each other. When you use a coordinating conjunction, you are showing that the sentences joined are similar in importance and structure.
The two elements that the coordinating conjunction joins are shown in square brackets [ ] in the examples below. Notice how the coordinating conjunctions always come between the words or clauses that they join:
I will eat [pizza] and [sushi].
[I enjoy history class], but [Nicholas prefers P.E].
When independent clauses are joined with a coordinating conjunction, a comma should be placed before the conjunction:
He wants to become a famous football player, so he is always practicing.
However, if the independent clause is short and well-balanced, a comma is not really essential:
She is shy so she is quiet.
When and is used with the last word of a list, a comma is optional:
Both forms are acceptable: I need to buy cheese, oatmeal, and pickles. I need to buy cheese, oatmeal and pickles.
Coordinating conjunctions are relatively short and simple, each having only two or three letters. As a result, there is an easy way to remember and memorize the coordinating conjunctions because their initials spell:
F A N B O Y S
For And Nor But Or Yet So
The most widely used conjunctions are subordinating conjunctions. The common ones are: after, although, as, because, before, how, if, once, since, than, that, though, till, until, when, where, whether, while.
The purpose of a subordinating conjunction is to join a dependent/subordinate clause to an independent/main clause.
|I went for a drive||although||it was bad weather out.|
The subordinate clause is also known as the dependent clause because it depends on the main or independent clause. A dependent clause cannot exist by itself. If someone came up to you and said “Hello! Although it was bad weather out.” Would you understand what that person was saying? Of course not! That makes no sense. On the other hand, the independent clause can exist alone. You would understand if someone came up and said “Hello! I went for a drive.”
The subordinating conjunction will always come at the beginning of the subordinate clause to introduce it. The subordinate clause can come before or after the main clause, thus there are two possible structures.
I went for a drive, although it was bad weather out.
Although it was bad weather out, I went for a drive.