conjunctive adverb (grammar)

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

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 the relation in meaning between two sequential independent clauses (or main clauses). Also called a conjunct, a transitional conjunction, or a cohesive conjunction.

A conjunctive adverb is commonly placed at the beginning of a 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.

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. As shown in the list below, a conjunctive adverb may consist of more than one word.

Common Conjunctive Adverbs in English

as a result
at last
at the same time
for example
for instance
in addition
in any case
in fact
in short
in the meantime
on the contrary
on the other hand
that is

See Examples and Observations below. Also see:

From the Latin, "join together"

Examples and Observations

  • "Always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't go to yours."
    (Attributed to Yogi Berra)
  • "They were not sleeping on board the brig. On the contrary, they were talking, singing, laughing."
    (Jules Verne, The Mysterious Island, 1874)
  • "'Furthermore' . . . implies that there's so much more to say about your contention that you can't help but add one more dramatic point. Furthermore, the word 'furthermore' cues the listener to pay attention, because more supporting evidence is forthcoming."
    (Scott Snair, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Power Words. Penguin, 2009)
  • "It is almost universally felt that when we call a country 'democratic' we are praising it; consequently, the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning."
    (George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language." Horizon, April 1946)
  • "She liked to do her own shopping, and she never bothered with cooking, and she did not really see the point of cleaning. Moreover, she didn't need company, and didn't much want any."
    (John L'Heureux, A Woman Run Mad. Viking Penguin, 1988)

  • "Learning is about more than simply acquiring new knowledge and insights; it is also crucial to unlearn old knowledge that has outlived its relevance. Thus, forgetting is probably at least as important as learning."
    (Gary Ryan Blair)
  • "You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however."
    (Richard Bach)
  • "Barnby and I laughed at this anecdote. Maclintick did not smile. At the same time he seemed struck by the story."
    (Anthony Powell, A Dance to the Music of Time: Second Movement, 1964)
  • "Very often I must wait weeks and weeks for what you call 'inspiration.' In the meantime I must sit with my quill pen poised in the air over a sheet of foolscap, in case the divine spark should come like a lightning bolt and knock me off my chair on to my head."
    (Robert Benchley, "How I Create," 1934)
  • "She seemed to have an idea that if a person wanted brown paper he must be wanting to tie up parcels; which was the last thing I wanted to do; indeed, it is a thing which I have found to be beyond my mental capacity. Hence she dwelt very much on the varying qualities of toughness and endurance in the material."
    (G. K. Chesterton, "A Piece of Chalk," 1905)
  • "Shakespeare's Henry V is a typical Red-blood; so was Bismarck; so was Palmerston; so is almost any business man. On the other hand, typical Mollycoddles were Socrates, Voltaire, and Shelley."
    (G. Lowes Dickinson, "Red-Bloods and Mollycoddles," 1915)
  • "[B]irds are not really deceived by the passing mildness of a few days, but are obliged to prepare nests, finding themselves in a condition to require them. The cause, in short, is physiological, and not the folly of the bird."
    (Richard Jefferies, "January in the Sussex Woods," 1884)
  • "Whether the authorities were apprehensive that a rescue would be attempted, or were anxious merely to strike terror into the hundreds of wild Irishry engaged on the railway, I cannot say; in any case, there was a display of military force quite unusual."
    (Alexander Smith, A Lark's Flight," 1863)
  • How to Identify Conjunctive Adverbs
    "If you are uncertain whether a connecting word is a conjunctive adverb, test by moving the connecting word to another place in the clause. Conjunctive adverbs can be moved; subordinating conjunctions (such as if and because) and coordinating conjunctions (but, or, yet, for, and, nor, so) cannot."
    (Stephen Reid, The Prentice Hall Guide for College Writers, 2003)

Pronunciation: kun-JUNGK-tiv ad-verb