Introducing Conjunctions

This unit introduces you to the world of conjunctions.

CONJUNCTIONS

 

What you need to know:

  • A clause is a group of words that has a subject and a predicate.
  • The subject is who or what the clause is about. The predicate is the part of the clause that contains the verb and also the part that says what the subject is doing.
  • A sentence is a group of words that begins with a capital letter, it has a subject and a predicate, it makes sense, and it ends with a full stop or period.
  • An independent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a predicate and it can stand on its own.
  • An dependent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a predicate but it cannot stand on its own.
  • A phrase is a group of words that does not contain a subject or predicate.

 

What are conjunctions?

Conjunctions are words or groups of words that are used to join clauses, phrases or sentences.

Have you ever tried building a toy train track? We connect two or more pieces to make a complete path for the train to run.  We can think of clauses and conjunctions as these tracks. At one end, we have a clause or sentence that communicates an idea.  Next, we might have another clause that can be an extension of that idea or one that communicates a separate idea. A conjunction functions like the links the train track. It helps to join the ideas in a sentence together. Conjunctions are words that help to connect ideas in a clause or sentence:

 

Let us look at the example below:

 

Example 1:

The brave boy saved the dog and he was rewarded for his heroism.

 

                                                        

The brave boy saved the dog             and                  he was rewarded for his heroism.

[CLAUSE 1 (ONE IDEA)]      CONJUNCTION     [CLAUSE 2 (ONE IDEA)]

 

However, not all conjunctions are found between sentences. Sometimes, they can be found at the beginning of sentences or clauses. The important thing is that wherever they are found, conjunctions help to connect ideas in a sentence or clause.  Let us modify the sentence we last used:

Since the brave boy saved the dog, he was rewarded for his heroism.

In this example, the conjunction since, helps to show that:

  • There was a brave boy who had saved a dog, and
  • The boy was rewarded for his heroism.

Types of conjunctions

There are three main types of conjunctions:

  1. Coordinating conjunctions
  2. Subordinating conjunctions
  3. Correlative conjunctions

 Coordinating conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions are words that help to join two independent clauses. Remember that independent clauses are clauses which can stand on their own as sentences: they make complete sense, and they contain a subject and a predicate (the part of the clause that contains the verb and also the part of that says what the subject is doing).

In our example of the brave boy, the conjunction ‘and’ functions like a coordinating conjunction. It joins two clauses that can both stand on their own.

 

The brave boy saved the dog              and                  he was rewarded for his heroism.

(independent clause 1)            (conjunction)               (independent clause 2).

 

If we were to cross out everything that appeared after the word ‘dog’, then our first group of words (clause) would still communicate a complete idea: they would make sense, and we could see a subject (the brave boy) and a predicate (saved the dog). They could stand on their own. Also, if we crossed out everything before the word ‘he’, then we could see that our second group of words (clause) would still communicate a complete idea: they would make sense, and we could see a subject (he) and a predicate (was rewarded for his heroism).

 

The brave boy saved the dog and he was rewarded for his heroism.

The brave boy saved the dog  and he was rewarded for his heroism.

These are independent clauses.

 

Let’s use two more examples.

The mailman escaped the furious dog but he dropped the bag of mail.

The mailman escaped the furious dog but he dropped the bag of mail.

 

The most common coordinating conjunctions are: and, but and or. However, there are many others. The most common coordinating conjunctions can be memorized using the acronym, FANBOYS:

For

And

Not

But

Or

Yet

So

 

Subordinating conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions are words or groups of words which help to join an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses. Remember, a dependent clause is a group of words that has a subject and a predicate however unlike an independent clause, it cannot stand on its own. Subordinating conjunctions can be found at the beginning or between clauses in a sentence. Let us revisit our example of the brave boy:

Since the brave boy saved the dog, he was rewarded for his heroism.

  • The conjunction since is found at the beginning of the clause.
  • There is a subject (a brave boy) and a predicate (saved the dog).
  • However, the clause since the brave boy saved the dog does not make any sense on its own. It does not express a complete idea. Therefore, the clause, since the brave boy saved the dog is a dependent clause.
  • Nevertheless, the conjunction since does help us to know that there is an idea which comes somewhere in the sentence. It connects the brave boy who saved the dog with something else in the sentence.

Let us look at two more examples:

The children ate all of their vegetables which was good for their health.

  • The clause, the children ate all of their vegetables, is an independent clause. It can stand on its own. However, it is joined by the conjunction which. The clause which was good for their health cannot stand on its own. It is a dependent clause. Therefore, the word which functions as a subordinating conjunction.

 

As soon as the bell rang, the students rushed to the doorway before the teacher could give them home work.

  • The group of words, as soon as, is a phrase. Remember that a phrase is a group of words that does not contain a subject or predicate.
  • The clause, as soon as the bell rang does not express a complete idea. It is a dependent clause. However, as soon as, tells us that something happened when the bell rang. The clause, the students rushed to the doorway, is an independent clause. It can stand on its own. However, let us look at the clause, before the teacher could give them homework. This is also a dependent clause since it cannot stand on its own. The word, before, functions as a subordinating conjunction which joins the previous clause (the students rushed to the doorway) to the last one (the teacher could give them homework).

Some common subordinating conjunctions are when, whenever, whoever, before, as soon as, if, while, because, though, although and which.

 

Correlative conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are words or groups of words that function together as pairs in a clause or sentence. Some common correlative conjunctions are either and or; and neither and nor.

 

Neither John nor Mary will be returning to the team next term.

Either Carla or Alice will represent the school.

 

We have come to the end of the lesson. Remember:

  1. Conjunctions are words or groups of words that are used to join clauses, phrases or sentences.
  2. Conjunctions can be placed at the beginning of sentences or clauses or between sentences or clauses.
  3. There are three types of clauses: coordinating, subordinating and correlative.
  4. Coordinating conjunctions are words that help to join two independent clauses.
  5. Subordinating conjunctions are words or groups of words which help to join an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.
  6. Correlative conjunctions are words or groups of words that function together as pairs in a clause or sentence.

Now take the quiz to test your understanding.

Attachments3

SEE ALL Add a note
YOU
Add your Comment

Advanced Course Search Widget

Course Categories

Recent Posts

X