Conjunctions – how to understand them
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Conjunctions – definition
There are two main types of conjunctions:
- Co-ordinating conjunctions join together parts of a sentence which are of equal status.
- Subordinating conjunctions join together parts of a sentence which have a complex relationship.
There are five co-ordinating conjunctions in English:
and or nor but for
There are many more subordinating conjunctions:
whereas, where, if, because, while, as, when, since
Co-ordinating conjunctions are used in the following statements:
Jim and Sally are going to the concert.
Give me that gun or I’ll call the police.
Neither a lender nor a borrower be.
We have no lemons but we do have some limes.
NB! It is possible for a word to be a conjunction in one sentence and a different part of speech in another.
The words and, or, nor, but, for are all co-ordinating conjunctions.
They are conjunctions because they usually join together parts of a sentence.
They are co-ordinating because the parts they join are of equal rank. For example:
We have no limes but we do have some lemons.
Conjunctions should not be confused with adverbs such as:
moreover, besides, so, consequently, however, also
Take the following statement:
The weather was bad last Tuesday so we stayed at home.
Here the word so links the two parts, but it creates a sequence and a sense of cause and effect — rather than the joining of two equal statements.
The conjunction may not always be placed between the words being linked. It can appear elsewhere:
Because I was tired, I went to bed early.
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© Roy Johnson 2003
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