The Role of Conjunctions in Sentences: Discover How to Use Conjunctions to Join Words, Phrases and Clauses.

Do you want to avoid writing repetitive and choppy sentences? Using conjunctions will improve your writing flow. I always argue with my editor about my use of conjunctions because she thinks I don’t use them enough. But I feel there’s a time and place for them in writing, and it’s all about stylistic choices.

Continue reading to understand the basics of conjunctions as I break them down for you. Explore its definitions, types, and when to use conjunctions properly in sentences. Without this part of speech, you won’t be able to produce elegant and complex sentences…no matter what an editor might say.

What Does a Conjunction Do?

Well, conjunctions in grammar are words that connect other words, phrases or clauses in sentences. I know what you’re thinking: don’t all words connect to one another? Yes, but conjunctions are special. Some of the most common English conjunctions are and, or, but, because, if, when and for.

A conjunction either joins two parts of a sentence that are grammatically equal or unequal. They can also join words and phrases.

What Are the 3 Types of Conjunctions?


In English, there are three main types of conjunctions that show different relationships between elements. But it’s essential to understand the types of clauses first.

An independent clause is a group of words with a subject and predicate that can stand on its own as a sentence. On the other hand, a dependent clause is a group of words with a subject and predicate that can’t stand on its own as a sentence.

Coordinating Conjunctions

A coordinating conjunction joins elements of equal grammatical value or rank. They can join two nouns, verbs, adjectives, independent clauses and phrases. To remember the seven coordinating conjunctions, just memorize the acronym FANBOYS. That’s what I do!

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

Note that so can function as both a coordinating conjunction and a subordinating conjunction. This means it can link two independent clauses as a coordinating conjunction or connect an independent clause with a dependent clause as a subordinating conjunction.

Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are pairs of conjunctions used to connect phrases or words. They are employed to enhance the flow and conciseness of our writing. Below are some of the most common pairs of correlative conjunctions.

  • Either/or
  • Neither/nor
  • Whether/or
  • Not only/but also
  • Both/and
  • Such/that
  • Rather/than
  • No sooner/than
  • As many/as

Subordinating Conjunctions

A subordinating conjunction is one of the kinds of conjunctions that links a dependent or subordinate clause to an independent clause.

Business writers, academic writers and other professional writers know that simple sentences can never start with a subordinating conjunction. However, it’s important to note that complex and compound-complex sentences can begin with subordinating conjunctions, as these sentence types involve both dependent and independent clauses.

Some of the most common subordinating conjunctions are:

  • Because
  • Although
  • If
  • Since
  • Until
  • While
  • Unless
  • As
  • When
  • Before
  • After
  • Whenever
  • In case
  • Though
  • Whereas

A noun clause is an example of a subordinate clause that acts as a noun. It also starts with subordinating conjunctions. For example:

  • I don’t know where he went. (The noun clause “where he went” functions as the direct object of the verb “know.” The subordinating conjunction is “where.”)
  • Tim asked if we could meet tomorrow. (The noun clause “if we could meet tomorrow” serves as the direct object of the verb “asked.” The subordinating conjunction is “if.”)

Conjunction Rules

All parts of speech have rules regarding their correct usage. Here are some guidelines and examples of conjunctions.

Commas Before Conjunctions

Many style guides recommend using a comma before coordinating conjunctions such as and, or and but two join independent clauses. Here are some examples.

  • She’s an excellent debater, but her tone of voice needs improvement.
  • I would like to go swimming at the beach, or I could stay home and watch a movie.

But it’s okay to leave out the comma from a sentence if the following independent clause is short. For example:

  • I had cake and Jenna had coffee.

Conjunctive Adverbs or Adverbial Conjunctions

A conjunctive adverb is a type of adverb that links independent clauses or shows a relationship between sentences.

It has a similar, but not exact, purpose as a coordinating conjunction. Correctly using them helps you achieve parallelism in sentence structure. Here are some examples of conjunctive adverbs.

  • Also
  • Besides
  • However
  • Finally
  • Furthermore
  • Nonetheless
  • Still

For example:

  • I enjoyed the salmon sashimi. However, California maki is still my favorite.

Here, however functions as an adverb.

But in the example below, the adverb until functions as a conjunction.

  • I’ll be out until you come home.

Punctuating Complex Sentences and Subordinate Conjunctions

A comma is required when the dependent clause comes before the independent clause. For example:

  • Because I was absent, I missed the announcement.

Note that sentences beginning in participial phrases do not need subordinating conjunction. For example:

  • Surprised by Joe’s arrival, Hailey dropped a spoon.

Prepositions and Conjunctions

Both prepositions and conjunctions link words within sentences. Prepositions are followed by pronouns, nouns or phrases to form prepositional phrases, while conjunctions can connect different parts of speech to form clauses.

Subject-Verb Agreement for Correlative Conjunctions

The element nearest to the verb indicates whether the verb is singular or plural. For example:

  • Neither the doctor nor the nurses know who the patient is.
  • Either the nurses or the doctor administers the medicine.

Starting a Sentence With a Conjunction

It’s possible to produce a grammatically correct sentence that starts with a conjunction, such as and and but. For example:

  • Kryz enjoys living in the city. But she also dreams of living in the suburbs with her own family.

Separating these two independent clauses emphasizes the use of but.

Some readers dislike sentences starting with conjunctions because they seem melodramatic or informal. Consider your audience before producing your sentences.

Conjunctions in Sentences

Here’s a list of real-life examples of conjunctions in sentences.

  • I like eating burritos, nachos, tacos and chocolate.
  • I enjoy drinking green tea latte. But I like espresso lattes more.
  • I went to Arizona because I wanted to visit my grandmother.
  • Carl doesn’t want to throw away his toy collection, nor does he want to donate it to charity.
  • Whereas nouns name persons, places, things and events, adjectives modify nouns and pronouns.
  • Robin took a nap after John came home.
  • I drive the car whenever she’s away.
  • Either Samantha or Shane will run for president of the student council.
  • Jacob is not only offering a ride home but also asking me out for dinner.

Is “and” a Conjunction?

Yes. And is a type of coordinating conjunction. It connects words, phrases and clauses of equal importance.

Concluding Conjunctions

My guide hopefully has shown you the definition and types of conjunctions. I’ve also provided examples of how to use them in sentences.

Properly using conjunctions will help you write more elegant sentences and be a better writer. Without them, you’ll be forced to produce monotonous, simplistic sentences without showing a relationship between elements.