conjunction-junction-postersConjunctions are an important tool in the English language that allows writers to combine clauses. With conjunctions, you are able to form longer sentences that break up the choppy sound of single clauses.

For English learners, conjunctions can be tricky because it involves learning what a clause is before using a conjunction.

A clause is a subject and a verb that make a unit, or sentence.

For example: “She is dancing.” The subject is “she”, and the verb is “is dancing”.

Every sentence contains at least one clause, though sentences can contain more than one clause. This is where conjunctions come in handy.

For this article I will be focusing on coordinating conjunctions which are FANBOYS, ie for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. These coordinating conjunctions bring clauses together which create sentences that are not as choppy or basic. Let’s look at each of the FANBOYS:

For: to combine clauses meaning “because”

“I love Cindy, for she is the best woman in the world.”

And: this is used to combine similar ideas.

“Greg is in college, and he’s on the football team.”

Nor: used to join two negatives.

“We will not buy this apple nor purchase that one.”

But: to join two contrasting ideas.

“I love French fries, but they are too fattening.”

Or: joins two alternative ideas.

“You will come with me to the store, or you won’t go anywhere.”

Yet: creates a contrast.

“She is the fairest in the land, yet she has a giant mole on her face.”

So: creates a result.

“Samantha loves to study, so she receives all A’s.”

In all of these examples, coordinating conjunctions are used to combine clauses. Without the coordinating conjunction, a period would have to be used at the end of the first clause and a new sentence would have to be created with the second clause by taking out the conjunction.

To use these coordinating conjunctions, you must first have two independent clauses. “She likes cats.” “She has allergies.”

Combine these sentences using one of the conjunctions above, “she likes cats, but she has allergies.”

Most of the time you will use a comma before the conjunction, but to make sure that you have the information correct check out Patti Stafford’s comma articles: Part 1 and Part 2.

Next week I will go over subordinating conjunctions that will help you combine independent clauses in different ways.