What is a conjunction?
A conjunction is a part of speech that is used to connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences. Conjunctions are considered to be invariable grammar particle, and they may or may not stand between items they conjoin.
There are several different types of conjunctions that do various jobs within sentence structures. These include:
- Subordinating conjunctions – Also known as subordinators, these conjunctions join dependent clauses to independent clauses.
- Coordinating conjunction – Also known as coordinators, these conjunctions coordinate or join two or more sentences, main clauses, words, or other parts of speech which are of the same syntactic importance.
- Correlative conjunction – These conjunctions correlate, working in pairs to join phrases or words that carry equal importance within a sentence.
- Conjunctive adverbs – While some instructors do not teach conjunctive adverbs alongside conjunctions, these important parts of speech are worth a mention here. These adverbs always connect one clause to another, and are used to show sequence, contrast, cause and effect, and other relationships.
When people first learn to write, they usually begin with short, basic sentences like these: “My name is Ted. I am a boy. I like dogs.” One of the most important jobs conjunctions do is to connect these short sentences so they sound more like this: “I am a boy named Ted, and I like dogs.”
There are a few important rules for using conjunctions. Remember them and you will find that your writing flows better:
- Conjunctions are for connecting thoughts, actions, and ideas as well as nouns, clauses, and other parts of speech. For example: Mary went to the supermarket and bought oranges.
- Conjunctions are useful for making lists. For example: We made pancakes, eggs, and coffee for breakfast.
- When using conjunctions, make sure that all the parts of your sentences agree. For example: “I work busily yet am careful” does not agree. “I work busily yet carefully” shows agreement.
Examples of Conjunctions
There are only a few common conjunctions, yet these words are used to connect words and phrases in writing of all kinds. The conjunctions commonly used in American English are:
In the following examples, the conjunctions are italicized for easy recognition.
I tried to hit the nail but hit my thumb instead.
I have two goldfish and a cat.
I’d like a bike for commuting to work.
You can have peach ice cream or a brownie sundae.
Neither the black dress nor the gray one looks right on me.
My dad always worked hard so we could afford the things we wanted.
I try very hard in school yet I am not receiving good grades.
The following exercises will help you gain greater understanding about how conjunctions work. Choose the best answer to complete each sentence.
- My brother loves animals. He just brought a puppy __________ a kitten home with him.
Answer: D. My brother loves animals. He just brought a puppy and a kitten home with him.
- I’d like to thank you ______ the lovely gift.
Answer: B. I’d like to thank you for the lovely gift.
- I want to go for a hike _____ I have to go to work today.
Answer: A. I want to go for a hike but I have to go to work today.
- They do not smoke, _____ do they play cards.
Answer: C. They do not smoke, nor do they play cards.
- I’m getting good grades _________ I study every day.
Answer: D. I’m getting good grades because I study every day.
Conjunctions perform many functions: They present explanations, ideas, exceptions, consequences, and contrasts. Here is a comprehensive list of conjunctions you’ll find useful for all types of writing.