Grammatical Coordination

Joining Clauses with Conjuctions

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In English grammar, coordination or parataxis is the joining of words, phrases, or clauses of the same type to give them equal emphasis and importance. The common conjunctions and, but, for, or, not, yet and so to join the elements of a coordinate construction.

Clauses joined by coordination are main clauses or coordinate clauses, and a sentence containing two or more clauses linked by coordination is called a compound sentence; this acts in contrast to subordination, which joins the main clause of a sentence with a subordinate clause.

This important distinction can be simplified by saying that coordinate constructions are composed of elements that are equally important, while subordination relies on two or more elements wherein one relies on the other to provide context and meaning.

Commonality and Usage

Chances are as a native or non-native English speaker, you have been using grammatical coordination just about as long as you've been able to form complete sentences. This very sentence is a coordinate construction in itself, and when speaking it's truly the conjunction words that define a sentence as a coordinate construction.

In the written form, coordination can help maintain a pace, rhythm and flow to a writer's piece, providing a means to string along a complex thought without interruption of periods and their subsequent verbal pauses. Primarily though, these function best in comparison and comparative essays. 

Disjunctive conjunctions like "or" or "either...or" serve the opposite purpose in contrasting phrases and clauses; therefore, a well-written compare-contrast essay utilizes both disjunctive and conjunctive conjunctions to create a fluid and eloquent observation on the given topics, exploring their similarities and differences without confusing the intended audience.

Gapped Coordination and Joint Coordination

There are two types of coordination that are additionally utilized, providing special rules for when the verbs of both clauses are the same: gapped coordination or joint coordination. Oftentimes, these are used without thought, but in order to identify them, there are a few unique differences between the two.

In gapping the verb is omitted from the second clause, leaving a gap in the middle of the clause. For instance, the sentence "Kyle plays basketball, and Matthew plays soccer" could be rewritten "Kyle plays basketball, and Matthew soccer" and still make grammatical sense. This process maintains conciseness in writing as well as speech.

On the other hand, joint coordination is used when a noun phrase cannot be separated into separate clauses because the words function as a unit. For instance, the sentence "Pete and Cory are a dynamic duo," would not make sense if rewritten as "Pete is a dynamic duo, and Chris is a dynamic duo." Joint coordination, then, forms a dependent noun-verb phrase wherein the noun phrase of Pete and Cory function as a unit.

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Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "Grammatical Coordination." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Nordquist, Richard. (2020, August 27). Grammatical Coordination. Retrieved from Nordquist, Richard. "Grammatical Coordination." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).