25 Subordinating Conjunctions

By Mark Nichol

If you’re having trouble developing sentences with sufficient variety to keep your writing fresh, take a ride on A WHITE BUS.

No, I’m not shouting at you; A WHITE BUS is a mnemonic initialism that reminds you about a set of conjunctions with which you can begin dependent clauses. (A dependent clause is a phrase that must be attached to an independent clause — a series of words that can stand on its own as a sentence — to make grammatical sense.) Below, you’ll find the words or phrases that the letters in A WHITE BUS represent, and sample sentences in which they’re employed.

A

1. “After dinner, we’ll go see a movie.”

2. “Although I’d rather not, I’ll make an exception.”

3. “As you know, she’s rather eccentric.”

W

4. “When we’re done, let’s get some ice cream.”

5. “Whenever I go, I try to see something I’ve never seen before.”

6. “Whether or not you agree, I think it looks fine.”

7. “Where I go, they always have sales.”

8. “Wherever I go, I try to enjoy myself.”

9. “While I’m there, I play music on a jukebox.”

H

10. “How is it that even though you go there all the time, you’ve never noticed that before?”

I

11. “If you find out, please let me know.”

12. “In case you hadn’t heard, I couldn’t care less.”

13. “In order to enjoy your trip, take your time and enjoy the sights.”

T

14. “That I like wearing red — that has never been in dispute.”

15. “Though I’m flexible, I draw the line about that.”

E

16. “Even if it is true, I’ll forgive him.”

17. “Even though I’d heard the song before, I hadn’t known who sang it.”

18. “Ever since I met her, I haven’t been able to think about anything else.”

B

19. “Because I’ve been there before, I’d rather go somewhere else.”

20. “Before I saw the house, I was ready to just rent an apartment.”

U

21. “Unless you’re willing to wait, you’ll have to come back tomorrow.”

22. “Until we find it, we can’t leave.”

S

23. “Since then, I’ve had a different opinion of him.”

24. “So sure were you of your theory about them, you ignored evidence that you were wrong.”

25. “So that I’m sure I understand you, please repeat what you said.”

Sometimes, ON, representing “only if” (“Only if I get to drive will I go with you”) and “now that” (“Now that we understand each other, things are much better”) precedes A WHITE BUS in the mnemonic phrase.

Note, too, that the order in which the dependent and independent clauses appear can be reversed (though often, the comma separating the clauses is then not necessary). However, because the independent clause generally contains the essential information, the sentence is usually more effective when the independent clause trails the dependent clause.

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5 Responses to “25 Subordinating Conjunctions”

  • Leif G.S. Notae

    Always learning something new from you here, I can say I never heard of ON A WHITE BUS as a mnemonic device, but I can see where it would apply in any sort of writing endeavor. Great as always, thanks for sharing!

  • Toby

    I prefer ‘to’ instead of ‘in order to’ (it’s tautological).

  • Sally

    What about that example “So sure were you of your theory about them, you ignored evidence that you were wrong.” Isn’t “sure” the predicate adjective and “so” the adverb modifying it? It seems that the second clause has an elliptic “that”? So to analyze this sentence properly, shouldn’t we rearrange it like this: You were so sure of your theory about them (that) you ignored evidence that you were wrong. “So” as a subordinating conjunction takes the meaning “so that” showing purpose or a result, right?

  • Peter Harvey

    ‘After’ is not a conjunction here. It is a preposition, and with the noun ‘dinner’ it makes an adverbial phrase (which does not need to be followed by a comma). To use ‘after’ as a conjunction you must write ‘After we have eaten dinner…’

  • A.M.Jibriil

    Human beings behave naturally as they suppurated one another, culturally, lifestyle, beliefs and where they were belonging historically and geographically. However, deep understanding of how the word works shows, we have common elements and same source we came from. We are sharing the same universal laws and same usage of its welfare.

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