Conjunctions are words which join together two words or two phrases or two sentences. You can combine entire sentences using conjunctions to make them more compact. In the lesson below you will learn about conjunctions and kinds of conjunctions. 

  • Ali and Raza are good writers. (It is a short way of saying, Ali is a good writer and Raza is a good writer).
  • Ali and Wali are good boxers. It is a short way of saying, Ali is a good boxer and Wali is a good boxer.

Conjunctions and must be carefully distinguished from relative pronouns, relative adverbs and prepositions, which are also connecting the words like:

  • This is the house that Ali bought. (Relative pronoun)
  • This is the place where he was murdered. (Relative adverb)
  • He sat beside Milad. (Preposition)
  • Take this and give that. (Conjunction)

Kinds of Conjunctions

There are three kinds of conjunctions which join different kinds of grammatical structures.
1. Coordinating conjunction
2. Subordinating Conjunction
3. Correlative conjunction
Each of the three kinds of conjunctions: coordinating, subordinating and correlative conjunctions serve a unique purpose.

1. Coordinating Conjunctions:

Coordinating conjunctions connect two words or groups of words with similar values. They may connect two words, two phrases, two independent clauses or two dependent clauses. In each of the following sentences the coordinating conjunction “and” connects equal words or groups of words:

  • John and Reggie stayed up all night practicing their guitars. (Connects two words)
  • They sent the items over the river and through the woods. (Connects two phrases)
  • Several managers sat with their backs to us, and I could almost hear them snickering at us lowly workers. (Connects two clauses)

There are only seven coordinating conjunctions in the English language, and they are often remembered by using the acronym “FANBOYS”: for, and, nor, but, or, yet and so.

  • You can study hard for exam or you can fail.
  • That is not what I meant to say, nor should you interpret my statement.
  • John plays basketball well, yet his favorite sport is hockey.

Coordinating conjunctions are divided into four kinds according to their function in a sentence.

A) Cumulative / Copulative Conjunctions: They add one statement to another statement.

  • He came here, and I left there.

B) Adversative Conjunctions: The express opposition or contrast between two statements.

  • He was slow, but he was sure

C) Disjunctive / Alternative Conjunctions: They express a choice between two alternatives.

  • She must clean, or she must leave. 

D) Illative conjunctions: They express an inference,
All precautions must have been neglected: for the plague spread rapidly.

2. Subordinating Conjunctions:

Subordinating conjunctions connect two groups of words by making one into a subordinating clause. The subordinating clause acts as one huge adverb, answering the questions “when” or “why” about the main clause, or imposing conditions or opposition on it.
Here are some examples of subordinating conjunctions changing a clause into adverbial subordinating clauses in different ways:

  • I can go shopping after I finish studying for my exam. (when)
  • Because the knight was young, he decided to take a walk. (why)
  • I’ll give you a dime if you give me a dollar. (condition)
  • Although he never figured out why, Hanna winked on her way out the door. (opposition)

Note: The subordinating conjunction does not always come between the two clauses it connects. Often, it comes at the beginning of the first clause.

3. Correlative Conjunctions:

Correlative conjunctions are always used in pairs. They are similar to coordinating conjunctions because they join sentence elements that are similar in importance.
The following are some examples of coordinating conjunctions: 

  • Both John and Max made the football team this year. (Both, and)
  • Neither John nor Max made the football team this year. (Neither, nor)
  • Not only did John make the football team, but he also became one of the strongest players. (Not only, but also)
  •  Either Mom or Dad will pick you up. (Either, or)