Grammar Rules

Coordinating Conjunctions

What is a coordinating conjunction?

Coordinating conjunctions coordinate or join two or more sentences, main clauses, words, or other parts of speech which are of the same syntactic importance. Also known as coordinators, coordinating conjunctions are used to give equal emphasis to a pair of main clauses.

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Coordinating Conjunction Rules

As there are only seven of these words, there are just a few rules for using coordinating conjunctions correctly:
  1. It’s a good idea to use the mnemonic “FANBOYS” to memorize coordinating conjunctions so you’ll never forget them. They are:
    • F = for
    • A = and
    • N = nor
    • B = but
    • O = or
    • Y = yet
    • S = so
  2. Coordinating conjunctions always connect phrases, words, and clauses. For example: This batch of mushroom stew is savory and delicious.
  3. Some instructors warn that starting a sentence with a coordinating conjunction is incorrect. Mostly, this is because they are attempting to help prevent you from writing fragments rather than complete sentences; sometimes though, it’s just a personal preference. The fact is, you can begin sentences with coordinating conjunctions as long as you follow these three rules for doing so:
    • Ensure that the coordinating conjunction is immediately followed by a main clause
    • Don’t use coordinating conjunctions to begin all of your sentences. Do so only when it makes your writing more effective.
    • Although commas typically follow coordinating conjunctions used in areas other than the beginning of a sentence, they should not be used after coordinating conjunctions used to open sentences unless an interrupter immediately follows.  

Examples of Coordinating Conjunctions

In the following examples, the coordinating conjunctions have been italicized for easy identification.

  1. You can eat your cake with a spoon or fork.
  2. My dog enjoys being bathed but hates getting his nails trimmed.
  3. Bill refuses to eat peas, nor will he touch carrots.
  4. I hate to waste a drop of gas, for it is very expensive these days.

Coordinating Conjunctions Exercises

The following exercises will help you gain greater understanding about how coordinating conjunctions work. Choose the best answer to complete each sentence.
  1. Would you rather have cheese _____ bologna on your sandwich?
    1. For
    2. Nor
    3. Or
    4. So
    Answer: 3. Would you rather have cheese or bologna on your sandwich?
  2. His two favorite sports are football ______ tennis.
    1. Or
    2. And
    3. Nor
    4. For
    Answer: 2. His two favorite sports are football and tennis.
  3. I wanted to go to the beach, _______ Mary refused.
    1. But
    2. Or
    3. So
    4. For
    Answer: 1. I wanted to go to the beach, but Mary refused.
  4. I am allergic to cats, ­­­­______ I have three of them.
    1. Or
    2. For
    3. Yet
    4. So
    Answer: 3. I am allergic to cats, yet I have three of them.
  5. I am a vegetarian, ­­­­_______ I don't eat any meat.
    1. So
    2. Yet
    3. Nor
    4. But
    Answer: 1. I am a vegetarian, so I don’t eat any meat.

Coordinating Conjunctions List

Remember, there are only seven coordinating conjunctions. This list contains all of them.

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

Coordinating Conjunctions Exercises

1. Thomas will be late to work, _____ he has a dental appointment. A. but B. or C. for D. nor 2. Jennifer does not like to swim, ____ does she enjoy cycling. A. and B. or C. but D. nor 3. Jackson wanted to eat another piece of cake, ____ he was on a diet. A. for B. but C. yet D. so Answer Key: 1 – C. Thomas will be late to work, for he has a dental appointment 2 – D. Jennifer does not like to swim, nor does she enjoy cycling. 3 – B. Jackson wanted to eat another piece of cake, but he was on a diet.