Humanities › English Examples and Usage of Conjunctions in English Grammar Share Flipboard Email Print The Main Parts of Speech Parts of Speech Nouns Pronouns Verbs Adjectives Adverbs Prepositions Conjunctions Interjections Kreg Steppe/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 By Richard Nordquist English and Rhetoric Professor Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester B.A., English, State University of New York Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. our editorial process Richard Nordquist Updated November 04, 2019 A conjunction is the part of speech (or word class) that serves to connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences. The common conjunctions (and, but, for, or, nor, so, and yet) join the elements of a coordinate structure and are thus called coordinating conjunctions. They connect words, phrases, and clauses of equal rank. In contrast, subordinating conjunctions connect clauses of unequal rank. Correlative conjunctions (such as neither...nor) pair things together as subjects or objects in a sentence, which is why they're also called pairing conjunctions. Coordinating Conjunctions You use coordinating conjunctions to connect two simple sentences with a comma. The two parts of the sentence, if split apart without the conjunction, could stand alone as sentences, as they both have a subject and a verb. Said another way, both parts of the sentence are independent clauses. They could also be joined with a semicolon. With coordinating conjunction: The white kitten was cute, but I chose the tabby instead.With coordinating conjunction: The white kitten was cute, yet I chose the tabby.As two sentences: The white kitten was cute. I chose the tabby instead.With a semicolon: The white kitten was cute; I chose the tabby instead. Coordinating conjunctions can also be used in items in a series or to create a compound subject or predicate. Items in a series: Harry needed to pick a Siamese, tortoiseshell, calico, or a tabby cat.Compound subject: Sheila and Harry both enjoyed playing with all the kittens.Compound predicate: The kittens jumped around and played with all the people who came to greet them. Notice that you don't use a comma before the conjunction in a compound predicate because both verbs belong to the same subject. There aren't two independent clauses. A sentence style that employs many coordinate conjunctions is called polysyndeton. For example: "There's a Labrador and a poodle and a German shepherd and a Chihuahua!" Using Subordinating Clauses A clause that couldn't stand alone as its own sentence is a dependent clause. When you connect a dependent clause to a sentence, you'll use a subordinating conjunction, such as in the following: With a subordinating clause: It closed its eyes and purred at me when I picked up the tabby cat.A second version of the sentence: When I picked up the tabby cat, it closed its eyes and purred at me. You couldn't make the two clauses in this sentence into two sentences as they're written. "When I picked up the tabby cat," would be a sentence fragment (an incomplete thought) if read alone. Thus, it's dependent (or subordinate) to the main clause of the sentence, the independent clause, which could stand alone: "It closed its eyes and purred at me." Subordinating conjunctions can be classified into several groups: Causality: because, since, asTime: when, as soon as, before, after, while, by the timeContrast/Opposition: though, although, even though, while, whereas, rather thanCondition: if, unless, even if, only if, in case, provided that, so that, whether Subordinating Conjunctions List The following is a list of subordinating conjunctions: after although as as if as long as as much as as soon as because before but that by the time even if even though how if in case in order that lest only if provided that rather than since so that supposing than that though till ('til) unless until when whenever where whereas wherever whether while why Paired Conjunctions Correlative conjunctions pair things together and go in a set. They include either...or, neither...nor, not only...but also, both...and, not...nor, as...as. Whether you use a comma before the second conjunction depends on whether the clauses are independent or not (as in coordinating conjunctions above). Not two independent clauses: He picked out not only the Siamese cat but also the Labrador puppy.Two independent clauses: Not only did the Siamese cat lick her, but the Labrador puppy also did. Breaking the 'Rules' A past adage was to never start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction, but that's no longer. Starting sentences with "but" or "and" can be used to break up long chunks of text or for rhythmic or dramatic effect. As with anything used for effect, don't overdo it. Practice Identifying Conjunctions Examine the conjunctions in the following sentences. What type is each? We needed to pick up milk, bread, and eggs from the store.You grab the pet food, and I will look for the other items.If you follow instructions, we could get this done faster.It's either my way or the highway. Conjunction Exercises Answers And: coordinating conjunction connecting items in a series.And: coordinating conjunction connecting two independent clauses.If: subordinating conjunction.Either...or: correlative or paired conjunctions. What Are Coordinating Conjunctions in English? What Are Conjunctive Adverbs in English? How to Put German Sentences in the Right Order Examples of Common Subordinating Conjunctions Identifying Run-On Sentences and Ways to Correct Them How to Use Conjunctions in Italian Learn Grammar With the Basic Structures of English Sentences What Are Comma Splices and How Do You Correct Them? What Is a Predicate in a Sentence? Subordination in English Grammar Latin Conjunctions and How to Use Them Punctuation Pointers: How to Use Semicolons, Colons, and Dashes Coordinating Words, Phrases and Clauses in English Grammar Common Uses of Commas in English What's a French Relative Clause? What Are the Correlative Conjunctions in English?