coordinating conjunction (grammar)

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

FANBOYS
A mnemonic for the coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. (Getty Images)

Definition

A coordinating conjunction is a conjunction (such as and) that joins two similarly constructed and/or syntactically equal words, phrases, or clauses within a sentence. Also called a coordinator.

The coordinating conjunctions in English are and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet. Compare with subordinating conjunctions.

In some cases, as shown below, a coordinating conjunction may be used as a transition at the beginning of a new sentence.

See the examples below. Also see:

Examples

  • "All the long way to school
    And all the way back,
    I've looked and I've looked
    And I've kept careful track,
    But all that I've noticed,
    Except my own feet,
    Was a horse and a wagon
    On Mulberry Street."
    (Dr. Seuss, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Vanguard, 1937)
     enough to consider divorce; murder, yes, but divorce, never."
     
  • "She must have been tired, for she fell asleep the moment she inclined her head."
    (Nikos Kazantzakis, Report to Greco, 1965)
     
  • "Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they might have been."
    (William Hazlitt)
     
  • "In no other city does life seem such a perpetual balancing of debits and credits, of evils and virtues, as it does in New York. No other city seems so charming yet so crude, so civilized yet so uncouth."
    (Joseph Epstein, "You Take Manhattan," 1983)
     
  • "She does not come here to worship or to pray, but she has a sense of rightness and ritual about being here, a sense of duty fulfilled, of some unstated covenant's renewal."
    (Stephen King, Rose Madder, 1995)

     
  • "It's a sad day when you find out that it's not accident or time or fortune but just yourself that kept things from you."
    (Lillian Hellman, Pentimento, 1973)
     
  • "I didn't know, nor did any of my family seem to know, that this medicinal leaf my grandma burned was marijuana."
    (E.L. Doctorow, World's Fair, 1985)
     
  • "The mind plays tricks on you. You play tricks back! It's like you're unraveling a big cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting."
    (Pee Wee in Pee-wee's Big Adventure, 1985)
     
  • "It's tough to stay married. My wife kisses the dog on the lips, yet she won't drink from my glass."
    (Rodney Dangerfield)
     
  • "His ratty home under the pig trough was too chilly, so he fixed himself a cozy nest in the barn behind the grain bins."
    (E.B. White, Charlotte's Web. Harper & Row, 1952)
     
  • "You have the American dream! The American dream is to be born in the gutter and have nothing. Then to rise and have all the money in the world, and stick it in your ears and go 'PLBTLBTLBLTLBTLBLT!' That's a pretty good dream."
    (Eddie Izzard)
     
  • "They were not cordial to Negro patronage, unless you were a celebrity like Bojangles. So Harlem Negroes did not like the Cotton Club and never appreciated its Jim Crow policy in the very heart of their dark community. Nor did ordinary Negroes like the growing influx of whites toward Harlem after sundown . . .."
    (Langston Hughes, The Big Sea, 1940)
     
  • "As every teacher knows, the numerical mark changes the entire experience and meaning of learning. It introduces a fierce competition among students by providing sharply differentiated symbols of success and failure. Grading provides an 'objective' measure of human performance and creates the unshakable illusion that accurate calculations can be made of worthiness."
    (Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992)
     
  • The Use of a Coordinating Conjunction at the Beginning of a Sentence
    - "I was welcome briefly. I compare it to being a bum on Thanksgiving Day. Do-gooders invite you to the shelter and give you a beautiful turkey dinner. But it's a Thursday-only deal. Don't come back on Friday."
    (Saul Bellow, More Die of Heartbreak. William Morrow, 1987)


    - "'Do you understand how there could be any writing in a spider's web?'

    "'Oh, no,' said Dr. Dorian. 'I don't understand it. But for that matter I don't understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.'

    "'What's miraculous about a spider's web?' said Mrs. Arable. 'I don't see why you say a web is a miracle--it's just a web.'

    "'Ever try to spin one?' asked Dr. Dorian."
    (E.B. White, Charlotte's Web. Harper & Row, 1952)


    - And did those feet in ancient time
    Walk upon England’s mountains green?
    And was the holy Lamb of God,
    On England's pleasant pastures seen?

    And did the Countenance Divine,
    Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
    And was Jerusalem builded here,
    Among these dark Satanic Mills?
    (William Blake, "Jerusalem." Preface to Milton, 1804-1810)


    - "And at the beginning of a sentence? During the 19th century, some schoolteachers took against the practice of beginning a sentence with a word like but or and, presumably because they noticed the way young children often overused them in their writing. But instead of gently weaning the children away from overuse, they banned the usage altogether! Generations of children were taught they should 'never' begin a sentence with a conjunction. Some still are.

    "There was never any authority behind this condemnation. It isn't one of the rules laid down by the first prescriptive grammarians. Indeed, one of those grammarians, Bishop Lowth, uses dozens of examples of sentences beginning with and. And in the 20th century, Henry Fowler, in his famous Dictionary of Modern English Usage, went so far as to call it a 'superstition.' He was right. There are sentences starting with And that date back to Anglo-Saxon times."
    (David Crystal, The Story of English in 100 Words. St. Martin's Press, 2012)

     

    Pronunciation: ko-ORD-i-nate-ing kun-JUNK-shun

    Also Known As: coordinator