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Types of Conjunctions Study Guide

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Updated on Apr 25, 2014

Types of Conjunctions

When I hear the hypercritical quarreling about grammar and style, the position of the particles, etc., etc., stretching or contracting every speaker to certain rules of theirs. I see that they forget that the first requisite and rule is that expression shall be vital and natural, as much as the voice of a brute or an interjection: first of all, mother tongue; and last of all, artificial or father tongue. Essentially your truest poetic sentence is as free and lawless as a lamb's bleat

HENRY DAVID THOREAU (1817–1862)

AMERICAN PHILOSOPHER AND POET

Coordinating, correlative, and subordinating conjunctions are tools that help us connect items in a sentence. In this lesson, you'll learn why these connectors are such essential language components.

Conjunctions connect words, phrases, and sentences in our writing and speech. Two common forms of conjunctions are coordinating and correlative conjunctions. While both of these connect elements that are similar in form (nouns with nouns, phrases with phrases, and sentences with sentences), the correlative conjunctions also show relationship between sentence elements and ideas. Another type of conjunction, and probably the most widely used, is the subordinating conjunction, which connects independent clauses (simple sentences) with subordinate clauses (a group of words that has a subject and verb like a sentence, but cannot stand by itself) that are similar in their relationship rather than in their form. Let's look at these more closely.

Coordinating Conjunctions

The acronym FANBOYS will help you remember the seven coordinating conjunctions for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. The following chart explains what each conjunction means, and gives an example of how it can be used in a sentence.

Correlative Conjunctions

Like coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions connect elements that are similar in form. The following chart shows the five common pairs of correlative conjunctions, with examples of how they can be used in a sentence.

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions join an independent clause (a simple sentence) with a subordinate clause (a group of words that has a subject and verb like a sentence, but cannot stand by itself). For example:

I.C.→ I went to see a doctor S.C.because my throat hurt

We can understand the first clause, I went to see a doctor without any further explanation, because it is a simple sentence. But the phrase because my throat hurt is a subordinate clause (it begins with the subordinating conjunction because) and is an incomplete thought, so it must be joined with an independent clause in order to make sense. The subordinating conjunctions found at the beginning of subordinating clauses imply these four categories: time, cause and effect, condition, and contrast.

Choosing the appropriate subordinating conjunction depends on what you want to imply in your sentence. For example:

if If my throat hurts, I will go to the doctor.
when When my throat hurts, I will go to the doctor.
as long as As long as my throat hurts, I will go to the doctor.
now that Now that my throat hurts, I will go to the doctor.
before Before my throat hurts, I will go to the doctor.

When using the following conjunctions, you should add not to the subordinate clause to imply contrast:

although Although my throat hurts, I will not go to the doctor.
even though Even though my throat hurts, I will not go to the doctor.

or leave them as is . . .

although Although it is fall, the day is still warm.
even though Even though it is fall, the day is still warm.

A grammar exercise for this concept can be found at Types of Conjunctions Practice Exercise.

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