and subordinating words : conjunctions connectors and
Essentially there are four
types of connectors:
Definition : Connectors
- also called conjunctive words - are words that link two similar
elements in a sentence.
categories of connector are coordinating conjunctions, such as
and subordinating conjunctions such as if, so that, because
But it is also important to include conjunctive
A small number of conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs can link
individual words or phrases; but the majority can only link two clauses.
conjunctions such as and
conjunctions such as if or although
conjunctions, such as either
- Conjunctive adverbs such as therefore
are explained in part 2 of this topic: ► Conjunctive adverbs
with conjunctions : where linguists disagree
Most traditional grammars just repeat the established
classification of conjunctions as being either coordinating
conjunctions or subordinating conjunctions. This neat classification
works in most cases, but for some words it does not. But
can often be used as synonyms; yet but
is listed as a coordinator, and though
as a subordinator.
took part in the competition, but he did not win.
and : He took part in the competition,
though he did not win.
Similarly, the old-fashioned "coordinator" for,
generally been replaced in modern English by as
or by because,
classed as subordinators.
Yet there is
a real difference between but
and that is the way in which they are used. This suggests that the
pertinent distinction between different types of conjunction is not
actually one of function, but one of usage.
As for so,
both David Crystal and Quirk, Greenbaum
et.al. consider it
as a subordinator; but many dictionaries and most Internet
grammar sites, including
Wikipedia, call it a coordinator. Coe, in the classic Learner's Grammar
of English, carefully avoids calling it anything more than a
For clarification of "so" see English grammar - so
Coordinating conjunctions are used to link two clauses or phrases of
equal value or equal status.
There are only a small number of coordinating conjunctions in English:
most sources repeat what others say, and list the following seven,
using the convenient acronym FANBOYS.
It is perhaps preferable to exclude for, and prefer the
nor, or, so
and or can
link individual words or clauses; yet,
but normally only link clauses, but sometimes
link two words. Nor
words when it is a coordinating conjunction it can only do so
in partnership with
as a correlative conjunction.
- For can
be forgotten, as it is hardly ever used as a coordinating
conjunction in modern English. It has been replaced by because or as.... which are
- As for So, it
is a much disputed case. It is often called a coordinating conjunction,
but not all grammars agree on this, and so cannot at all be
a coordinating conjunction when it implies purpose. Many
online dictionaries and printed grammar books do not distinguish
coherently between the usage of so
for purpose and so
for consequence, or are very ambiguous on this point. So implying
consequence is best defined as a conjunctive
- For clarification see English
grammar - so
Coordinating conjunctions give equal value to the two elements that
be placed between
the two elements that they coordinate.
Can you start a sentence with a conjunction?
lot of grammar books claim that it is wrong to start a sentence with a
conjunction. This is just not true ! Most of the great writers in the
English language have from time to time used sentences starting with
conjunctions. In the "King James" version of the Bible, which
the standard English version of the Bible for three hundred years, two
of the first three sentences in the first chapter of the book of
Genesis start with And....
want three beers and
a glass of lemonade
He went to bed and
went to sleep.
You can have the chocolate mousse or
the lemon tart
They'll win, or
This present is not for Peter, but
I bought a new dress that was not red but pink.
We're going to Paris, but
not to Rome.
We're going to Paris, but
we're also going to Rome.
He was very tired yet
The director was rather young, yet
the company was successful.
Subordinating conjunctions are used to link two clauses within a single
sentence, when one clause is
subordinate to the other.
In other words, the subordinate clause
clarifies, expands or explains the meaning of the main clause.
Some types of subordinate clause are introduced by
subordinating conjunctions, others (such as relative clauses) are
Common subordinating conjunctions include
- as ,
- so and
so that (purpose)
- although and though
- after, before, until, while, etc.
- if, unless, as long as, provided, whenever, whatever (conditional,
- that (reported
speech, indirect statement, consequential)
Subordinating conjunctions come at the start of the subordinate clause.
There are two sorts of subordinate clauses.
A subordinate clause cannot stand
alone: it needs a main clause to complete the sentence.
- Most subordinate clauses can come either before or after the
main clause. So unlike coordinating conjunctions, subordinating
conjunctions can stand at the start of a sentence.
- but indirect questions, relative clauses,
and other subordinate clauses introduced by that, must normally be placed after the main
clause, just like a coordinated clause (Examples 12, 16 and 17)
is a subordinating conjunction when it is used to denote a purpose. A so clause denoting
purpose does not usually come before the main clause, but it is not
impossible (example 6).
is used with the
meaning of therefore
or and similarly
it is a conjunctive
these examples, it is not
possible to invert the two clauses in sentences written in red
- I 'm going to London because I've got a new job.
- Since it's raining, I'm going to the cinema this
- She didn't want any more wine, as she'd already drunk
- As she'd drunk enough, she didn't take any more wine.
- I'm locking the door, so nobody can get in
- So he wouldn't forget to wake up, he set his alarm
- Although I love him, I wouldn't want to marry him.
- This book is good, though some bits of it are rather
- After I finished work, I went straight home.
- Until they opened a new factory, they could not
- If you see anything suspicious, let me know at once.
- He asked the
policeman if he knew of a good restaurant.
- Provided you can swim, you can come out on our yacht.
- You can come out on our yacht, as long as you can
- I won't go there, whatever he says.
- This ice-cream
is so good, that I'm going to have another one.
- The man said
that he was born in New York.
► See also more
information on these pages :
These can either correlate words, or phrases, or clauses (sentences).
The main examples are :
correlating pairs include:
the more..... the more..... ; no sooner..... than...
; hardly ... than
and a few others.
- both.... and, not only.... but also, (combining
- either...or , whether.... or not (binary choice
- neither.... nor, (negative
With words and phrases, the coordinator normally has to
precede the element it is
correlating; when clauses are correlated, the coordinators
either precede each correlated clause, or precede the verbs in these
clauses. But these special cases should be noted:
and can only correlate words, not clauses (Examples 1 - 3)
When not only
a clause, the verb and subject of the first clause are inverted.
also can be omitted, after not only
introduces a clause, subject and auxiliary/modal verb are inverted.
(Examples 16 - 18)
Neither can be
replaced by not or
in the first of two correlated clauses. (Example 18)
When no sooner or
hardly introduce clauses,
auxiliary and subject are inverted.
- This is both
the president and
the prime minister were there.
- I can understand both
his reasons and
only can I hear him, but
also I can see him
- I can not
only hear him, but
also see him.
- Not only
can I hear him, I can see him (too).
- I bought not
only some blue suede shoes, but also a big
- It's either
it's right, or
Mummy or Daddy
will pick you up after school.
- I'll go there whether
or not I'm
- I'll go there whether
I'm allowed to or not.
- We're going home now, whether you like it or not.
Mary could come to my party.
- I'm neither
- I neither
like that man, nor
- I neither
like that man; nor
do I dislike him.
- I have never been to
Florida on holiday; nor
have I been there on business.
- The more you earn, the more you spend.
- No sooner had I opened
the door, than
the phone rang.
- Hardly had the plane
taken off, than
the pilot reported some trouble.
A fourth important category of connectors consists of words such as therefore
These are explained here: ► Conjunctive adverbs