What is a conjunction?

A conjunction is a part of speech that connects. It can connect sentences, clauses, groups of words, or two individual words.

  • Sometimes a conjunction is a single word: because, and, so, but, etc.
  • Other conjunctions consist of two or more words: neither . . . nor, either . . . or, so that, etc.

We divide conjunctions into three types: coordinating, subordinating and correlative.

Coordinating conjunctions

The seven coordinating conjunctions are so, and, but, or, yet, fornor.

A coordinating conjunction joins words, groups of words, or clauses, and gives them equal importance:

  • I like summer, but I don’t like winter.
  • Do you prefer summer or winter?
  • He’s been working all day, so he’s very tired.

See more examples and a full explanation: Coordinating conjunctions: but, so, or, . . .

Subordinating conjunctions

A subordinating conjunction connects a main (independent) and subordinate (dependent) clause. The clause beginning with a subordinating conjunction is always the subordinate clause, which depends on the main clause and cannot exist without it.

Common subordinating conjunctions include:

because, so that, as, since to express cause or reason
before, after, until, when, as soon as, whenever, while to express time
unless, if, even if, in case, providing to express condition
although, even though, whereas to express contrast or concession

See more examples: Subordinating conjunctions: if, before, until, although, . . .

Correlative conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are pairs. They connect balanced clauses, phrases or words. The elements which they connect are usually similar in structure or length.

either . . . or We can go to either Greece or Spain for our holiday.
both . . . and Both rugby and football are popular in France.
not only . . . but also Not only is he a professional footballer, but he’s also a successful businessman.
neither . . . nor Neither Norway nor Switzerland is in the EU.
not . . . but There are not two but three Baltic states: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

More correlative conjunctions and examples: either . . . or, neither . . . nor, . . .

1 Comment

  1. [Conjunctions] – Lesson 1: Subordinating conjunctions | Learning English - March 12, 2014, 9:16 am Reply

    […] conjunctions are conjunctions that connect a main (independent) clause and a subordinate (dependent) […]

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