Coordinating Conjunction Rules And Uses
Conjunctions are words used to create a link between two elements of a sentence. You can add a conjunction to a sentence to connect two words, two phrases, or two clauses. There are different types of conjunctions, including coordinating, subordinating, or correlative conjunctions. Here is what you need to know about using coordinating conjunctions.
The Coordinating Conjunctions
There are seven different conjunctions you can use to establish a relation of coordination between two elements of a sentence. You can use the acronym FANBOYS to remember these conjunctions.
Here is a complete list of the different coordinating conjunctions:
Each coordination conveys a different meaning. It is important to choose the right conjunction to create a connection that makes sense in the context in which you are using it.
For instance, ‘for’ is used to express a purpose or add a reason to your sentence. It is similar to ‘because.’
You can use ‘and’ when there is a need to add information, and ‘nor’ to add information in the context of a negative element. ‘But’ is used to create a contrast between two elements, and ‘or’ expresses a choice.
If you want to create a contrast in your sentence, ‘yet’ is an alternative to ‘but.’ The conjunction ‘so’ is used to establish a relation of consequence, express an effect, or a result.
Keep in mind that there are other words you can use to express these same relations. There are several conjunctive adverbs that have a similar purpose and follow similar rules.
Conjunctive adverbs include also, however, meanwhile, nevertheless, subsequently, furthermore, moreover, namely, besides, indeed, instead, finally, likewise, still, and next.
Think about using conjunctive adverbs to add variety to your writing or use one of these adverbs when the exact connotation you want to convey can’t be fully expressed by a conjunction.
When To Use A Coordinating Conjunction
You can use a coordinating conjunction to connect two words. This is how you would connect two nouns, two adjectives, or two adverbs.
Here are a few examples:
The sun is bright and yellow.
You can use a pen or pencil.
You can also use a coordinating conjunction to connect two phrases. Instead of having two distinct sentences, it is sometimes possible to merge the two ideas and have a single sentence. This approach prevents your writing from sounding choppy and helps articulate ideas.
I enjoy preparing food and eating it.
This sentence sounds a lot more natural than if you were to write two distinct sentences to refer to these two activities.
Connecting two clauses is another common use of these conjunctions. In grammar, a clause is a unit of organization in a sentence with a subject and a verb.
There are different types of clauses depending on the role they play in a sentence. Each sentence has a main or independent clause.
Some sentences have subordinate clauses. These clauses are dependent on the main clauses since they wouldn’t make sense on their own.
You will also encounter relative clauses. These clauses typically begin with a relative pronoun or relative adverb such as who, which, or that.
Some sentences include noun clauses. These clauses have the same role as a noun in the sentence structure. For instance: I want to know what you have been doing.
Coordinate clauses are independent. Even though these clauses are connected, they would make sense on their own. You could rewrite the sentence as two separate sentences, and the main meaning wouldn’t change.
For instance: I came here as fast as I could, but it was too late.
Note that you could rewrite this sentence and turn it into two different sentences while still expressing the same idea. There would be stylistic and tone differences, but both approaches are correct from a grammatical point of view.
Rules For Using Coordinating Conjunctions
There are a few simple rules to follow when you add a coordinating conjunction to a sentence.
When To Use A Coordinating Conjunction
You should use coordinating conjunctions when you have two different ideas that would flow better when combined as a single sentence. Conjunctions can also help you articulate complex ideas and help readers follow your train of thought.
Think about adding conjunctions when you have two sentences with a similar structure since it will be easy to combine them. You can also use conjunctions to bring more variety to your writing, for instance, by alternating short sentences with single clauses and sentences with several clauses.
When To Use A Comma
There are instances where you should use a comma with coordinating conjunctions. You should add a comma when a conjunction connects two independent clauses.
There is a simple test you can do to determine if you need to add a comma. Add a full stop instead and ask yourself if the two sentences make sense. If they do, you can connect them with a comma instead.
You should place the comma at the end of the first independent clause, just before using the conjunction.
There is no need to add a comma when using a conjunction to connect nouns, adjectives, or adverbs.
Keep in mind that the comma rule only applies to coordinating conjunctions. Take the time to identify the conjunction you are using to determine whether or not you should add a comma.
If you have a subordinate clause or a correlative clause, there is no need to add a comma to your sentence. However, a sentence that begins with a subordinate clause will need a comma to separate the subordinate clause from the main clause.
You would typically not use a comma when using a conjunction to connect two words. However, you can use a comma to separate items from a list.
This is called a serial comma or Oxford comma. It can be added before the conjunction that precedes the last item of a list. The serial comma is common in the U.S., and the Oxford University Press style manual recommends that you use it. However, it’s not grammatically incorrect to not place a comma before the last item of a list.
When To Use Semicolons
There are a few situations where you should use a semicolon along with a conjunction. You can use a semicolon if you have two independent clauses connected with a conjunctive adverb rather than a conjunction. You can also use a semicolon if you have a transitional phrase that connects two clauses.
A semicolon can also replace an Oxford comma if one of the items in your list uses a comma. This could be the case if you are adding a clause inside of your list to share more details about an item.
Likewise, you would use a semicolon to connect two clauses if a comma appears in one of the clauses. You can also choose to use a semicolon instead of a comma if there are two lengthy clauses in your sentence.
Note that using a comma instead of a semi-colon isn’t a grammatical mistake. However, you might want to follow certain stylistic conventions in your writing and use a semicolon in these scenarios.
Starting A Sentence With A Coordinating Conjunction
You have probably heard that you should never begin a sentence with a conjunction. However, it is grammatically correct to do so.
Teachers often ask students not to use conjunctions to start a sentence to reduce the use of words like and in the students’ writing. You will see plenty of instances of sentences that start with a conjunction in works of literature.
You can use coordinating conjunctions to start a sentence if you want to create a connection to another idea. You can connect a sentence to an idea mentioned in the previous sentence, or even earlier in the text.
You can also start a sentence with a conjunction for stylistic reasons or to create a specific tone. This technique can make your second sentence stand out and emphasize the connection between the two ideas.
You can use this technique to create a humoristic tone, emphasize a contrast, or simply make your writing more dynamic. However, this isn’t something you do would do when writing formally or creating a text in a professional or academic setting.
It is sometimes preferable to begin a sentence with a coordinating adverb rather than a conjunction. This often results in more elegant writing. You can, for instance, replace or with otherwise, or use also instead of and.
This method will help you articulate your ideas, but keep in mind that using a conjunction is perfectly acceptable and can create the desired effect in the context of storytelling. Ask yourself which tone you can use in your writing to determine if you can start a sentence with a conjunction.
Using coordinating conjunctions is something you have probably mastered years ago and do without giving it a second thought. However, taking the time to analyze how you use these conjunctions in your writing could help you create a more interesting style. Always ask yourself if you are using the best conjunction for your ideas, and pay attention to how the conjunction helps structure your sentence.