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16.5: Conjunctions

Conjunctions join words, phrases, or clauses within a sentence.

  • The coordinating conjunctions for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so are easily remembered by the acronym FANBOYS. When these seven short words link two independent clauses together within one sentence, each coordinating conjunction signals a specific relationship between the independent clauses it joins.
  • For signals that the second thought is a statement of causation relative to the first thought or that the second thought should be considered as significantly informing the first thought.
    Example: Each workplace conflict is unique, for each context is unique.
  • And signals addition and extension. Used with a comma between two independent clauses, it tells the reader that the thoughts expressed in those clauses should be considered together and with equal weight.
    Example: Each workplace conflict is unique, and each requires its own assessment.
  • Nor links two complete thoughts expressed as negatives, indicating that neither is an option.
    Example: Serious conflicts cannot be solved by ignoring them, nor can they be solved by attempting to legislate past them.
  • But expresses contrast. It tells readers that the thought expressed in the second independent clause is in opposition to, or otherwise different from, the thought expressed in the first independent clause.
    Example: Each workplace conflict is unique, but several general principles apply to finding solutions.
  • Or conveys option/choice or consequence (as in the sense of “or else”) between the two thoughts.
    Example: Conflicts may be resolved with one mediated discussion, or extended negotiation may be required to bring about consensus.
  • Yet tells the reader that the thought expressed in the second independent clause is in opposition or contrast to the first. It also can indicate simultaneity, in effect saying to the reader, “At the same time, after you’ve read the first thought, you should also consider this thought.”
    Example: Workplace conflicts can ultimately be opportunities for growth, yet most managers approach them with dread and apprehension.
  • So signals that the second thought is a statement of effect or consequence relative to the first thought.
    Example: Workplace conflicts can ultimately be opportunities for growth, so managers should approach them confidently.

Further distinctions in coordinating conjunction usage are as follows:

  • I like apples and oranges. (joining words)
  • Under the table and by the chair is the apple I dropped. (joining phrases)
  • I like apples, but I prefer oranges. (joining clauses)
  • Correlative Conjunctions come in pairs such as either...or, neither...nor, not only...but also. These conjunctions also connect two equal grammatical elements.
    Example: I will have either pasta or pizza for dinner.
  • Subordinating Conjunctions After, although, as if, because, even though, once, in order that, and rather than are some common subordinating conjunctions. These are conjunctions that introduce a subordinate clause and illustrate a relationship with the rest of the sentence.
    Example: Although I would rather party tonight, I will go to the library instead.
    Note the comma after the subordinate clause.
    Example: I will go to the library tonight although I would rather party.
  • Note how the subordinate conjunction, when not used to introduce, does not get a comma.
  • Conjunctive Adverbs are used to show a relationship between two independent clauses (complete sentences). Some examples are accordingly, furthermore, therefore, however.
    Example: I always brush my teeth; therefore, I have no cavities.

Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)

Punctuate the following sentences and underline the subordinating and/or coordinating conjunctions. (Some are correct)
  1. Lars and Helga wanted to throw a pool party on Saturday night.
  2. They invited many of their friends although it felt very last minute.
  3. Because they had little money they decided to ask their friends to bring food and drinks.
  4. They wound up with too much food and they decided to have a pool party on Sunday, too.
  5. Everyone chipping in was a great idea therefore they will follow the same plan next time.
  6. Neither Lars nor Helga expected such a good turnout. 
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