Grammar and Usage

Three Types of Conjunctions: Coordinate, Subordinate, and Correlative

In this lesson, you will learn about the three types of conjunctions: coordinate, subordinate, and correlative. You will learn about the acronyms FANBOYS, THAMOS, and SWABITs.

What is a Conjunction?

 

Conjunctions connect words or groups of words. Without conjunctions, your speech and your writing would sound stilted and awkward.

 

There are three main types of conjunctions: coordinate, subordinate, and correlative.

 

COORDINATE CONJUNCTIONS

A coordinate conjunction connects words or groups of words that are independent of each other.

 

Coordinating conjunctions connect words, phrases, and independent clauses.

 

There are seven main coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.

 

Hay and grain are sold here.

Will you take tea or coffee?

He was pale but undaunted.

The teacher replied courteously but firmly.

The troops embarked rapidly but without confusion.

Noon came, and the task was still unfinished.

We must hide here until night falls and the street is deserted.

 

In the first four sentences, the conjunctions and, or, and but connect single words that are in the same construction.

 

Hay and grain are sold here.

Will you take tea or coffee?

He was pale but undaunted.

The teacher replied courteously but firmly.

 

Subjects: hay and grain

Objects: tea or coffee

Predicate Adjectives: undaunted

Adverbs: firmly

Adverbial Phrase: rapidly but without confusion

Joining the two independent clauses of a compound sentence:

Noon came, and the task was still unfinished.

Compound Subordinate Clause:

We must hide here until night falls and the street is deserted.

 


Punctuation Rules for Coordinating Conjunctions:

When using a coordinating conjunction to connect two independent clauses, ALWAYS place a comma BEFORE the conjunction.

 

Examples:

We were hungry, for we hadn’t eaten in five hours.

 

(Note the comma before the conjunction because you are connecting two independent clauses.)

 

Remember the acronym FANBOYS to help you identify the most common coordinating conjunctions:

 

F = for

A = and

N = nor

B = but

O = or

Y = yet

S = so

 

Another type of coordinating conjunction is the conjunctive adverb. Conjunctive adverbs are classed as coordinating conjunctions because a conjunctive adverb joins two independent clauses, or sentences.

 

Some examples of conjunctive adverbs: however, moreover, therefore, nevertheless, notwithstanding, furthermore, and consequently.

 

Conjunctive adverbs are used mostly to show transitions from either sentence to sentence or one paragraph to another.

 

Examples

I went to the mall after work; however, I did not find what I was looking for.

 

In this example the conjunctive adverb, however, is used as a transition to coordinate two independent clauses: I went to the mall after work + I did not find what I was looking for.

 

The album sold over a million copies; moreover, it won a Grammy.

 

The punctuation rule to apply when using conjunctive adverbs to connect two complete sentences called independent or coordinate clauses is to use a semicolon to connect the two independent clauses and place a comma after the conjunctive adverb.

 

 

You may also separate the clauses into two complete sentences:

The album sold over a million copies.

Moreover, it won a Grammy.

 

This only applies when the conjunctive adverb is at the beginning of the independent clause.

 

When the conjunctive adverb appears at the beginning of a sentence, a comma should follow it.

 

I went to the mall after work. However, I did not find what I was looking for.

 

A new parking lot was built near the shopping plaza. However, the additional parking lot did not provide enough spaces to accommodate all the cars.

 

 

In these examples the conjunctive adverb appears at the beginning of the sentence and is followed by a comma.

 

Sometimes the conjunctive adverb interrupts the sentence, and you only need to set it off with commas.

 

A new parking lot was built near the shopping plaza. The additional parking lot, however, did not provide enough spaces to accommodate all the cars.

 

When the conjunctive adverb appears at the end of the sentence, a comma should precede it.

 

The additional parking lot did not provide enough spaces to accommodate all the cars, however.

 

Remember the acronym THAMOS to help you identify the most common conjunctive adverbs:

 

T = therefore

H = however

A = as a matter of fact

M = meanwhile

O = otherwise

S = still

 

More conjunctive adverbs: accordingly, also, besides, consequently, finally, indeed, instead, likewise, moreover, nevertheless, and then.

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SUBORDINATE CONJUNCTIONS

 

A subordinate conjunction connects a subordinate clause with the clause on which it depends, the independent or main clause.

 

Subordinating conjunctions show the relationship between a dependent and an independent clause.

 

Most common subordinating conjunctions are although, though, as, as if (as though), because, if, since, that, unless, whereas, and while.

 

Punctuation rules for subordinating conjunctions

When the dependent clause is placed first in a sentence, use a comma between the two clauses.

 

Though she saw danger, Martha was not afraid.

 

If you prefer, take this seat.

 

Because it was raining, we could not go out to play.

 

The dependent clause is at the beginning of the sentence and the subordinate conjunction heads the clause.

 

When the independent clause is placed first in a sentence, do NOT use a comma between the two clauses.

 

Martha was not afraid though she saw the danger.

In this sentence, the subordinate clause is in the end so you do not place a comma before or after the subordinate conjunction.

 

Take this seat if you prefer.

Your career will be ruined unless you change your ways.

We could not go out to play because it was raining.

 

 

Remember the acronym SWABITS to help you identify the most common subordinate conjunctions:

 

S = since

W = when

A = although

B = because

I = if

T = that

S = so that

CORRELATIVE CONJUNCTIONS

 

Conjunctions that are used in pairs are called correlative conjunctions.

 

Correlative conjunctions connect two equal grammatical terms.

 

both…and

not only…but also

not only this…but also that

either…or

neither…nor

though…yet/still

although…yet/still

since…therefore

if…then

whether…or

 

Examples

 

Both lions and wolves are carnivorous.

William the Second was not only the German Emperor but also the King of Prussia.

Either brass or copper will do.

Neither Keats nor Shelley lived to be old.

She asked me whether I was American or Canadian.

Though the roads were very bad, yet he managed to reach the city before midnight.

Although he betrayed me, still I cannot believe he says he is my friend.

Since four is the square of two, therefore two is the square root of four.

If Allan’s testimony is true, then Gilbert’s must be false.

 

There are Three Types of Conjunctions: Coordinate, Subordinate, and Correlative

SUMMARY

There are three main types of conjunctions: coordinate, subordinate, and correlative.

 

Coordinate: A coordinate, or coordinating, conjunction connects words or groups of words that are independent of each other. Coordinating conjunctions connect words, phrases, and independent clauses. (FANBOYS)

 

Also, a conjunctive adverb is a type of adverb that joins two independent clauses or sentences. Conjunctive adverbs are classed as coordinating conjunctions. (THAMOS)

 

Subordinate: A subordinate, or subordinating conjunction, connects a subordinate clause with the clause on which it depends: an independent or coordinate clause. (SWABITS)

 

 

Correlative: Correlative conjunctions are two-part conjunctions. They are used in pairs and connect two equal grammatical terms. They help maintain the parallel structure of a sentence.

 

***Remember that conjunctions may change their part of speech according to their contextual place and use. A conjunction may coordinate, subordinate, and correlative depending on the context in which it is used.

 

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