What is a Conjunction?

Conjunctions, according to The Chicago Manual of Style, bring together words, sentences or clauses within a clause, as shown in this example: I love to eat pie. And cake too. And joins together two sentences. Think of conjunctions as connectors that join parts of a sentence.

Conjunctions can be either simple (individual words), compound (individual words that are a combination of two or more words) or phrasal (two or more separate words) . Simple conjunctions are words such as but, if, and, or and through. Compound conjunctions are words like because, unless, notwithstanding, nevertheless and although. Finally, phrasal conjunctions are connectives such as provided that, as though, in case that, so that, inasmuch as and supposing that.

Three primary classes of conjunctions exist: correlative, subordinating and coordinating.

Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are utilized in pairs; their objective is to bind consecutive clauses that rely on each other in order to shape a complete and coherent sentence. The most ordinary correlative conjunctions in English are either-or, if-then, as-as, whether-or, not-but, neither-nor, both-and, so-as and not only-but also. A simple example: I’ll go there either in December or in January.

Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions unite groups of words or individual words that are of the same type (such as two verbs, two nouns, two clauses, and so on). Coordinating conjunctions can be final, copulative, disjunctive or adversative. Examples:

  • The soup is cold and sour.
  • You need to use a brick or a bottle.

Final conjunctions (such as for, so, consequently, thus, that and therefore) indicate consequences or conclusions. The statement of the first element is explained by the second element, such as in she spilled her coffee; therefore she suffered third-degree burns.

Copulative conjunctions (such as plus, well, moreover, and, also and no less) are coordinating conjunctions utilized for the purpose of addition. An additional thought is stated by the second element and this additional thought is associated with the first element. An example: one screamed at the top of his lungs, and the other disappeared.

Disjunctive conjunctions indicate alternatives or disunion. Merely one of the statements linked by the conjunction can be true and it’s possible for both to be false. Neither, either, otherwise, nor, else, but and or are all disjunctive conjunctions. Example: you can eat the blueberry pie or the strawberry cake.

Adversative conjunctions (such as nevertheless, still, but and yet) indicate comparisons or contrasts. The first element is often qualified by the second element. Example: this beer is bitter but tasty.

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions are the opposite of coordinating conjunctions; they join together individual words or groups of words that are not of the same type by inserting a clause which is reliant on the independent clause. Example: although we’ve done this before, she’s just too much trouble.

Subordinating conjunctions frequently point to certain relationships, such as:

  • Time (until, before, when, while). While the car was in motion, rain spattered against the windshield.
  • Reason (why, although, because, as). The sentence is correct because the Buddha said so.
  • Comparison/Degree (else, rather, otherwise, as far as). She looks healthy as far as I can perceive.
  • Assumption/Condition (if, unless, without, once). Once it is under way, nothing can stop it.
  • Location (where). She stumbled upon an eerie bar where she didn’t belong.
  • Purpose (so that, such that, that, in order that). Eat healthy so that you can be strong.

Adverbs and Pronouns as Conjunctions

A number of adverbs can be utilized as conjunctions to link an independent clause and a dependent clause. These special adverb-conjunctions usually use location or time, such as in these two sentences: He came before we were able to complete our task / And that’s where the statue is.

Relative pronouns also function as conjunctions and can also be called conjunctive relative pronouns. They must have an antecedent in the independent clause. An example: get me the wine that is downstairs.


Grammar.ccc.commnet.edu,. ‘Conjunctions‘. N.p., 2015. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.

The Chicago Manual of Style. 16th ed. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Ww2.odu.edu,. ‘Grammar Index‘. N.p., 2015. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.