Conjunctive Adverbs

The Difference Between Conjunctive Adverbs, Conjunctions, and Regular Adverbs

Conjunctive adverb
" On the other hand," says comedian Steven Wright, "you have different fingers." In this joke, Wright treats the conjunctive adverb on the other hand as a literal expression. Don Bayley/Getty Images

In English grammar, a conjunctive adverb is an adverb or adverbial phrase that indicates a relation in meaning between two sequential independent clauses (or main clauses). It is also called a conjunct, a transitional conjunction, or a cohesive conjunction.

A conjunctive adverb is commonly placed at the beginning of the main clause (where it's usually followed by a comma); accordingly, it may follow a semicolon, but only when both clauses (the one before and the one after the conjunctive adverb) are independent and can stand alone.

A conjunctive adverb may appear, on the other hand, almost anywhere in the clause. When used as an interrupting word or phrase, the conjunctive adverb is usually set off by commas on either side.

"If you are uncertain whether a connecting word is a conjunctive adverb, test by moving the connecting word to another place in the clause," author Stephen Reid writes in "The Prentice Hall Guide for College Writers," Conjunctive adverbs can be moved; subordinating conjunctions (such as if and because) and coordinating conjunctions (but, or, yet, for, and, nor, so) cannot." (2003)

Contrast With Regular Adverbs

Unlike a conventional adverb, which typically affects the meaning of only a single word or phrase, the meaning of a conjunctive adverb affects the entire clause of which it is a part. 

For example, a conventional adverb modifies a verb or adjective, such as in "The child just couldn't bear to walk slowly," where slowly gives more information about the verb walk.

Or, in "The Halloween costume looked absolutely ridiculous," the adverb absolutely emphasizes the adjective ridiculous.

In contrast, a conjunctive adverb pertains to the entire sentence and connects two parts. Or, if it starts a sentence, it can serve as a transition from one statement to another, as in when you want to make a point of contrasting two things in consecutive sentences: "The Halloween costume looked absolutely ridiculous.

However, Sam thought it provided the perfect effect."

In another distinction between the two types of adverbs, as shown in the list below, a conjunctive adverb may also consist of more than one word, such as in the meantime or at last.

Common Conjunctive Adverbs in English

Here is a list of examples of conjunctive adverbs. Please note that some words in this list can be other word forms as well; usage will determine which it is. 

For example, if a sentence reads, "She really should act accordingly," that is a regular adverbial usage. A conjunctive adverbial usage of the word could be something like, "The law changed in the state to allow liquor sales on Sundays; accordingly, retailers had to decide if they would be open that day or remain closed by choice."

accordingly

afterward

again

also

anyhow

anyway

as a result

at last

at the same time

before

besides

certainly

consequently

conversely

earlier

eventually

finally

for example

for instance

further

furthermore

granted

hence

however

in addition

in any case

incidentally

in conclusion

indeed

in fact

in short

in spite of

instead

in the meantime

later

lately

likewise

meanwhile

moreover

namely

nevertheless

next

nonetheless

now

on the contrary

on the other hand

otherwise

perhaps

rather

similarly

so

still

subsequently

that is

then

thereafter,

therefore

thus

undoubtedly