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Linguapress English Grammar

Conjunctions and connectors in English

Coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions – connectors and conjunctive adverbs.

Key points : Connectors - also called conjunctive words - are words that link two similar elements in a sentence.
  • The four categories of connector , which are explained below, are 
  • A small number of conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs can link individual words or phrases; but the majority can only link two clauses.
  • A coordinated clause or phrase must follow the clause or phrase to which it is connected.
  • A subordinate clause normally follows the main clause, but in some cases may precede it. See below.
  • In most cases the difference between subordination and coordination is clear, but in some cases linguists disagree.

Part 1. Conjunctions

1. Coordinating conjunctions :

 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.
  • for, and, nor, but, or, yet and so.  
This is a popular but misleading mnemonic. So forget fanboys, forget for and so, and go for the acronym BANYO.

USAGE: Coordinating connectors give equal value to the two elements that they coordinate.
They must be placed between the two elements that they coordinate.
I 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 they'll lose.
This present is not for Peter, but Paul
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 very happy.
The director was rather young, yet the company was successful.

Can you start a sentence with a conjunction?

A lot of grammar books claim that it is wrong to start a sentence with a conjunction. This is just wrong !
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 was the standard work of reference for style in the English language for three hundred years, two of the first three sentences in the first chapter of the book of Genesis start with And....  These initial "ands" remain present in the main modern 20th or 21st century versions of the Bible, including the Contemporary English Version (CEV) and the American Standard Version (ASV) . So yes, you can start a sentence with a conjunction.

2. Subordinating conjunctions :

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 not. Common subordinating conjunctions include
  • as , because and since  (cause)
  • so and so that  (purpose)
  • although and though  (contrastive)
  • after, before, until, while, etc.  (temporal)
  • if, unless, as long as, other than or but, provided, whenever, whatever (conditional, indirect question)
  • that (reported speech, indirect statement, consequential)

Subordinating conjunctions must 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.

In these examples, it is not possible to invert the two clauses in sentences written in red. In all other cases, as in examples 1a and 1b, inversion of the main and subordinate clause is possible.
  1. a) I 'm going to London because I've got a new job.
    b) Because I've got a new job, I'm going to London.
  2. Since it's raining, I'm going to the cinema this afternoon.
  3. She didn't want any more wine, as she'd already drunk enough.
  4. As she'd drunk enough, she didn't take any more wine.
  5. I'm locking the door, so nobody can get in
  6. So he wouldn't forget to wake up, he set his alarm for 5.30.
  7. Although I love him, I wouldn't want to marry him.
  8. This book is good, though some bits of it are rather boring.
  9. After I finished work, I went straight home.
  10. Until they opened a new factory, they could not produce enough
  11. If you see anything suspicious, let me know at once.
  12. He asked the policeman if he knew of a good restaurant.
  13. We don't have much choice other than to  (or but to) tell him.
  14. Provided you can swim, you can come out on our yacht.
  15. You can come out on our yacht, as long as you can swim.
  16. I won't go there, whatever he says.
  17. This ice-cream is so good, that I'm going to have another one.
  18. The man said that he was born in New York.
► See also more information on these pages :
► Continue to part 3 : ► (such as Not only.... but also)

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Cette page en français :
les conjonctions en anglais



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