What is a conjunction?

Conjunctions are used to express relationships between things in a sentence, link different clauses together, and to combine sentences.
Without conjunctions, we would be forced to use brief, simple sentences that do not express the full range of meaning we wish to communicate. Plus, only using simple sentences would sound unnaturally abrupt and disjointed.
By using different kinds of conjunctions, however, we are able to make more complex, sophisticated sentences that show a connection between actions and ideas.
There are four main types of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions, and conjunctive adverbs. We’ll briefly examine each kind below.

Coordinating Conjunctions

The most common conjunctions are the coordinating conjunctions: and, but, or, yet, for, so and nor. We use coordinating conjunctions between:

Individual words

  • “I like to run and swim.”
  • “Do you want pepperoni or anchovies on your pizza?”


  • “The president has been praised for both his willingness to negotiate and his strength in defending his principles.”
  • “I am a big fan of playing sports but not watching them.”

Independent clauses

  • It was raining, so I took an umbrella.”
  • We went for a hike, but I didn’t bring the right shoes.”

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions connect a subordinate clause to an independent clause. For example:
  • Although it was raining, I didn’t take an umbrella.”
  • Even though she didn’t like pepperoni, she still ate the pizza.”
  • “I went to work once I started feeling better.”
  • “I intend to go to South America next month, provided that I can get the time off work.”

Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are pairs of conjunctions that work together to indicate the relationship between two elements in a sentence. For example:
  • “Sports are a great way to bring people together, whether you like to play or just watch.”
  • “I like neither pepperoni nor anchovies on my pizza.”

Conjunctive Adverbs

Conjunctive adverbs join two independent clauses. These can either be two separate sentences, or they can be joined into a single complex sentence with a semicolon. For example:
  • “The English language school offers discounted English language courses. There’s also a library where you can study and borrow books.”
  • “Jen hadn’t enjoyed the play; nevertheless, she recommended it to her friend.”

1. What can coordinating conjunctions link together?

2. How are independent clauses joined with conjunctive adverbs?

3. How are independent clauses joined with coordinating conjunctions?

4. What kind of conjunction is used in the following sentence?
“You can either take the exam again or receive a score of 0.”

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