Does anyone else remember the song for conjunctions from the Electric Company? Now that I’ve thought of it, I have it stuck in my head. But, that little song taught many of us the purpose of a conjunction.
A conjunction is defined as a word that joins words or groups of words.
In writing, we use conjunctions all the time, but these words cause many writers headaches. Why? Because of comma use and the conjunction.
A simple rule of thumb when punctuating a compound sentence when you have two clauses.
If you are joining two independent clauses – they can stand alone as a sentence; they express a complete thought,
This is when there IS a comma before the ‘and,’ or ‘but.’
If you are joining one independent clause with a dependent clause – it cannot stand alone because it doesn’t express a complete thought,
This is when there ISN’T a comma before the ‘and,’ or ‘but.’
However, there are other kinds of conjunctions and they are as follows:
(The conjunctions are in bold type, and the words joined will be underlined.)
- Please bring your lunch and three dollars.
- You must pass every subject and maintain a good average.
- I placed an ad, but no one responded.
- I can use the car or the truck.
- He can either stay here or come with us.
- He invited both Nancy and me.
- She succeeds because she works hard.
- He will let me know when he hears from her.
As illustrated in the above examples, and, but, or, either, because, and when are all conjunctions.
Additionally, there are three kinds of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions, and subordinating conjunctions.
The coordinating conjunctions are:
The correlative conjunctions are always used in pairs.
- The work is not only profitable but also pleasant.
- Do you know whether Heather is coming alone or with her mother?
- either . . . or
- not only . . .but (also)
- neither . . . nor
- whether . . . or
- both . . . and
Subordinating conjunctions are used to begin subordinate clauses (we will explore these further later on.)
In the following sentences the subordinate clauses are bold, and the subordinating conjunctions that introduce them are underlined.
- There is no use arguing since you have already made your decision.
- We stayed inside until the storm stopped.
- You may stay where you are.
One of the tricky things about subordinating conjunctions is that they do not always come between the sentence parts that they join. Sometimes they come at the beginning of the sentence.
Although speed is important, accuracy is more important.
When I take an examination, I become frightened.
These are the commonly used Subordinating Conjunctions.
- as much as
- in order that
- inasmuch as
Please note that some of these words can also be used as prepositions: after, before, since, until; and others may be used as adverbs: how, when, where. That is often used as a relative pronoun.
Check back next Wednesday for further discussion on the Parts of Speech.