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Grammar and Usage

Conjunctive Adverbs

What are Conjunctive Adverbs?

There are three basic types of conjunctions: coordinating, subordinating, and correlative. But there is a fourth type of conjunction that we are going to talk about today. And that is the conjunctive adverb.

In today’s lesson we’ll define what conjunctive adverbs are and compare them side by side to the coordinating conjunction, the subordinating conjunction, and the correlative conjunction. We’ll look at the punctuation rules that govern conjunctive adverbs. 

Adverbs Modify Adjectives, Verbs, Adverbs, Phrases, and Clauses

You probably already know that adverbs are words that modify adjectives, verbs, other adverbs, phrases, and entire sentences. 

And conjunctive  adverbs,  also called adverbial conjunctions, connectors, connective adverbs, linkers, linking adverbs, transition words, and transitional phrases, modify entire sentences, also referred to as independent clauses. 

These types of adverbs are used  to show the logical relationship between two separate independent clauses within one sentence, to show a function between two separate ideas in sentences or paragraphs, and to act as interrupters within the sentence. And this is clearly evident with the punctuation used to set off the conjunctive adverb.

Conjunctive adverbs are used to show addition, cause and effect, comparison, contrast, emphasis, example or illustration, sequence, summary, and time.


Find the Conjunctive Adverbs in this Passage

There is an ongoing debate that continues to divide pet owners. Which is smarter, cats or dogs? Animal behaviorists believe that cats have the intelligence of a two-year-old human toddler. Moreover, cats have complex brains, good short-term memory, and high emotional intelligence.

Hence, cats can remember where an object is located for up to 16 hours and can respond to their human’s cues. Dogs, however, can only remember an object’s location for 5 minutes.

But does this mean that cats are smarter than dogs? Comparatively speaking, dogs are often perceived to be more intelligent because they are more trainable. This is because dogs view humans at the top of the chain of command and have formed bonds over centuries of training. Conversely, cats do not recognize hierarchies and do not see humans as their masters.

Indeed, cats are not interested in following human commands on demand. Cats want to do things on their terms. For instance, a cat will not seek help from its owner to perform a difficult task; accordingly,  they will work on the task until successful. Meanwhile, a dog will seek help from its owner when confronted with a difficult task. To summarize, cats are highly intelligent creatures, and cat lovers will tell you that their fabulous feline is clever and brilliant; however, dog lovers will say the same of their prodigious pups. Surely, this debate will not be settled any time soon.


The way conjunctive adverbs are punctuated sets them apart from other conjunctions. This is because conjunctive adverbs may be found in different places in the clause and depending on their placement, the punctuation will differ

Conjunctive adverbs can appear at the beginning of a sentence. In the middle of the sentence, as interrupters, or at the end of the sentence.

The punctuation structure is as follows:

  • When a CA starts the sentence, place a comma after the CA

CA + comma + Independent Clause

Conversely, cats do not recognize hierarchies.

  • When a conjunctive adverb joins two independent clauses, the conjunctive adverb takes a semicolon in front of it and a comma after. 

Independent Clause + semicolon + CA + comma + Independent Clause

A cat will not seek help from its owner to perform a difficult task; accordingly,  they will work on the task until successful. 

  • You may even find the CA at the end of the sentence.

Independent clause + comma + CA

Dog lovers will probably say the same of their pets, undoubtedly. 

As a rule, the CA will be placed before the subject if starting the sentence, 

Between the subject and the first verb if interrupting the sentence

And at the end of the sentence.

Some grammar sites will tell you that transitional words or phrases are not conjunctive adverbs. And others will tell you that interrupters are not conjunctive adverbs either. Remember that with most grammar subjects, there may be disagreements among your professors, textbooks, and grammar sites. So always consult the style book or follow your teacher’s guidelines and instructions. 

Do not confuse the CA for the Subordinating conjunction or the coordinating conjunction: 

Remember that a conjunctive adverb connects independent clauses.

Cats appear aloof; however, they can be quite loving. 

Subordinating conjunctions, also known as subordinating adverbs, are used to link a dependent clause to an independent clause. 

Although cats appear aloof, they can be quite loving.

coordinating conjunctions are used to link two independent clauses with a comma. Remember the acronym FANBOYS.

Cats appear aloof, but they can be quite loving.

Be careful: COMMA SPLICE***A conjunctive adverb cannot join two independent clauses with a comma. This will create a comma splice which is a punctuation error.***

Correlative conjunctions:

Dogs are not only highly trainable but also incredibly loyal to their human.


When you are familiar with conjunctive adverbs, your reading comprehension will improve because you will be able to recognize the logical progression of  ideas presented in the text. Consequently, by using conjunctive adverbs in your writing, you’ll be able to present a smooth flow of transitions and help your reader follow your reasoning making for a well-ordered flow of ideas.


File name : Common-List-of-Conjunctive-Adverbs.pdf