[Conjunctions] – Lesson 3: Coordinating conjunctions

The seven coordinating conjunctions are soandbutoryetfornor.

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.

Conjunctions are words which connect sentences or groups of words. Some learners know them asconnectors or joining words.

One type of conjunction is the coordinating conjunction, which gives equal importance to the words or sentences that it connects.

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

  • I like coffee, but my wife prefers tea.
  • Would you prefer coffee or tea?
  • I’ve drunk six cups of coffee today, so I’ve got a headache.
  • I take milk and sugar in my tea.
  • He’s seventy-two, yet he still swims, runs and plays football regularly.
  • She must have been very hungry, for she ate everything immediately.
  • Switzerland is not in the European Union, nor is it a member of NATO.

Functions of coordinating conjunctions

  • so – for showing the consequence of something
    He was very hungry, so he ate all the cake.
  • but – for contrast
    I eat cake, but I never eat biscuits; I don’t like them.
  • for – for explaining why [more formal and less common than because]
    He’s overweight, for he eats too many cakes and biscuits.
  • and – the same, similar or equal; without contrast
    His favourite snacks are cakes and biscuits.
  • nor – for two non-contrasting grammatically negative items (not + not)
    He doesn’t eat cake, nor does he eat biscuits.
    [= He doesn’t eat cake and he doesn’t eat biscuits.]
  • or – before an alternative
    Would you like cake or biscuits with your coffee? 
  • yet – contrast, despite something [synonyms = nevertheless, but still]
    He’s overweight and feels terrible, yet he continues to eat lots of cakes and biscuits.
    [He’s overweight, but still he continues to eat lots of cakes and biscuits.]

[Conjunctions] – Lesson 2: 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.

Correlative conjunctions are pairs such as neither . . . nornot . . . only, and but . . . also. These conjunctions connect two balanced clauses, phrases, or words.

The two elements that correlative conjunctions connect are usually similar in length and grammatical structure.

Here are a few example sentences containing correlative conjunctions:

  • either . . . or
    We can go to either Greece or Spain for our holiday.
    It’s my final offer – you can either take it or leave it.
  • both . . . and
    Both rugby and football are popular in France.
    Both English and Welsh are spoken in Wales.
  • not only . . . but also
    Not only is he a professional footballer, but he’s also a successful businessman.
  • not . . . but
    There are not two but three Baltic states: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
    In sport, what counts is not the winning but the taking part.
  • neither . . . nor
    Neither Norway nor Switzerland is in the European Union.
    Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory. 
    (Abraham Lincoln)
  • whether . . . or
    Whether you love them or hate them, you have to admit that the Rolling Stones are very popular.
    I’m totally confused – I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.
  • no sooner . . . than
    No sooner had I finished watering the garden than it started raining.

 

Subject-verb agreement

Watch out! The verb which follows two subjects joined by a correlative conjunction must agree with thesecond subject, NOT the first:

Either my brother or my mum look looks after our cat when we’re away on holiday.
Either my brother or my parents looks look after our cat when we’re away on holiday.
Neither the manager nor his assistant are is here today.
Neither the manager nor his assistants is are here today.

 

 

[Conjunctions] – Lesson 1: Subordinating conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions are conjunctions that connect a main (independent) clause and a subordinate (dependent) clause.

The clause beginning with the 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 / till, 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

Here are some example sentences:

  • Pete didn’t go to work yesterday because he was ill. [reason]
  • As he was feeling unwell, Pete didn’t go to work yesterday. [cause, reason; more formal than because]
  • I’ll lend you a map so that you can find the place more easily. [reason]
  • I’ll call you as soon as I get home. [time]
  • I’ll wait until you arrive. [time]
  • Did he say anything before he left? [time]
  • The baby gets very grumpy whenever he’s tired. [time]
  • If he doesn’t change his attitude, he’ll lose his job. [condition]
  • Even if you win a million dollars, it doesn’t mean you’ll be happy. [condition]
  • I’ll lend you my car, providing you promise to be careful. [condition]
  • Elliot is tall and blond, whereas his brother is short and has dark hair. [comparison]
  • Mark’s very tall, although he’s not as tall as his father yet. [comparison]
  • Although they’re poor, they’re happy. [concession]
  • Even though he’s rich, I’m not sure that he’s happy. [concession]