Grammar Made Easy

Subtitle

Conjunctions

A BRIEF EXPLANATION OF CONJUNCTIONS

A conjunction is a word that links words, phrases, or clauses. There are three types of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions, and subordinating conjunctions. Coordinating conjunctions may join single words, or they may join groups of words, but they must always join similar elements: e.g. subject+subject, verb phrase+verb phrase, sentence+sentence. When a coordinating conjunction is used to join elements, the element becomes a compound element. Correlative conjunctions also connect sentence elements of the same kind: however, unlike coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions are always used in pairs. Subordinating conjunctions, the largest class of conjunctions, connect subordinate clauses to a main clause. These conjunctions are adverbs used as conjunctions.

The following tables show examples of the various types of conjunctions and some sample sentences using the conjunctions. Since coordinating conjunctions and correlative conjunctions are closed sets of words, all are included in the list. Subordinating conjunctions are a larger class of words; therefore, only a few of the more common ones are included in this list.

 

What is a Conjunction?

You can use a conjunction to link words, phrases, and clauses, as in the following example:

I ate the pizza and the pasta.

Call the movers when you are ready.

Co-ordinating Conjunctions

COORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS

F

A

N

B

O

Y

S

for

and

nor

but

or

yet

so

 

An easy way to remember these six conjunctions is to think of the word FANBOYS. Each of the letters in this somewhat unlikely word is the first letter of one of the coordinating conjunctions. Remember, when using a conjunction to join two sentences, use a comma before the conjunction.

You use a co-ordinating conjunction ("and," "but," "or," "nor," "for," "so," or "yet") to join individual words, phrases, and independent clauses. Note that you can also use the conjunctions "but" and "for" as prepositions.

In the following sentences, each of the highlighted words is a co-ordinating conjunction:

Lilacs and violets are usually purple.

In this example, the co-ordinating conjunction "and" links two nouns.

This movie is particularly interesting to feminist film theorists, for the screenplay was written by Mae West.

In this example, the co-ordinating conjunction "for" is used to link two independent clauses.

Daniel's uncle claimed that he spent most of his youth dancing on rooftops and swallowing goldfish.

Here the co-ordinating conjunction "and" links two participle phrases ("dancing on rooftops" and "swallowing goldfish") which act as adverbs describing the verb "spends."

EXAMPLES AND SENTENCES

COORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS

CONJUNCTION

WHAT IS LINKED

SAMPLE SENTENCES

and

noun phrase+noun phrase

We have tickets for the symphony and the opera.

but

sentence+sentence

The orchestra rehearses on Tuesday, but the chorus rehearses on Wednesday.

or

verb+verb

Have you seen or heard the opera by Scott Joplin?

so

sentence+sentence

I wanted to sit in the front of the balcony, so I ordered my tickets early.

Subordinating Conjunctions

A subordinating conjunction introduces a dependent clause and indicates the nature of the relationship among the independent clause(s) and the dependent clause(s).

The most common subordinating conjunctions are "after," "although," "as," "because," "before," "how," "if," "once," "since," "than," "that," "though," "till," "until," "when," "where," "whether," and "while."

SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS

TIME

CAUSE + EFFECT

OPPOSITION

CONDITION

after

because

although

if

before

since

though

unless

when

now that

even though

only if

while

as

whereas

whether or not

since

in order that

while

even if

until

so

 

in case (that)

 

Subordinating conjunctions, (subordinators) are most important in creating subordinating clauses. These adverbs that act like conjunctions are placed at the front of the clause. The adverbial clause can come either before or after the main clause. Subordinators are usually a single word, but there are also a number of multi-word subordinators that function like a single subordinating conjunction. They can be classified according to their use in regard to time, cause and effect, opposition, or condition. Remember, put a comma at the end of the adverbial phrase when it precedes the main clause.

Each of the highlighted words in the following sentences is a subordinating conjunction:

After she had learned to drive, Alice felt more independent.

The subordinating conjunction "after" introduces the dependent clause "After she had learned to drive."

If the paperwork arrives on time, your cheque will be mailed on Tuesday.

Similarly, the subordinating conjunction "if" introduces the dependent clause "If the paperwork arrives on time."

Gerald had to begun his thesis over again when his computer crashed.

The subordinating conjunction "when" introduces the dependent clause "when his computer crashed."

Midwifery advocates argue that home births are safer because the mother and baby are exposed to fewer people and fewer germs.

In this sentence, the dependent clause "because the mother and baby are exposed to fewer people and fewer germs" is introduced by the subordinating conjunction "because."

EXAMPLES AND SENTENCES

SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS

CONJUNCTION

SAMPLE SENTENCE

after

We are going out to eat after we finish taking the test.

since

Since we have lived in Atlanta, we have gone to every exhibit at the High Musuem.

while

While I was waiting in line for the Matisse Exhibit, I ate my lunch.

although

Although the line was long and the wait over two hours, the exhibit was well worth it

even if

Even if you have already bought your ticket, you will still need to wait in line.

because

I love Matisse's works because he uses color so brilliantly.

Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions always appear in pairs -- you use them to link equivalent sentence elements. The most common correlative conjunctions are "both...and," "either...or," "neither...nor,", "not only...but also," "so...as," and "whether...or." (Technically correlative conjunctions consist simply of a co-ordinating conjunction linked to an adjective or adverb.)

CORRELATIVE CONJUNCTIONS

both...and

not only...but also

either...or

neither...nor

whether...or

 

Remember, correlative conjunctions are always used in pairs. They join similar elements.When joining singular and plural subjects, the subject closest to the verb determines whether the verb is singular or plural.

The highlighted words in the following sentences are correlative conjunctions:

Both my grandfather and my father worked in the steel plant.

In this sentence, the correlative conjunction "both...and" is used to link the two noun phrases that act as the compound subject of the sentence: "my grandfather" and "my father".

Bring either a Jello salad or a potato scallop.

Here the correlative conjunction "either...or" links two noun phrases: "a Jello salad" and "a potato scallop."

Corinne is trying to decide whether to go to medical school or to go to law school.

Similarly, the correlative conjunction "whether ... or" links the two infinitive phrases "to go to medical school" and "to go to law school."

The explosion destroyed not only the school but also the neighbouring pub.

In this example the correlative conjunction "not only ... but also" links the two noun phrases ("the school" and "neighbouring pub") which act as direct objects.

Note: some words which appear as conjunctions can also appear as prepositions or as adverbs.

EXAMPLES AND SENTENCES

CORRELATIVE CONJUNCTIONS

CONJUNCTIONS

WHAT IS LINKED

SAMPLE SENTENCE

both...and

subject+subject

Both my sister and my brother play the piano.

either...or

noun+noun

Tonight's program is either Mozart or Beethoven.

neither...nor

subject+subject

Neither the orchestra nor the chorus was able to overcome the terrible acoustics in the church

not only...but also

sentence+sentence

Not only does Sue raise money for the symphony, but she also ushers at all of their concerts.

 Written by Heather MacFadyen

Paired Conjunctions

Did you know …

·Both a poor diet and not enough exercise can make you sleepy.
 

·Weight-bearing exercises strengthen not only your muscles but also your bones.
 

Pregnant women should neither start a new exercise routine nor exercise for weight loss during their pregnancy.
 

·You can exercise either in the morning or in the afternoon and still get the same results. It all depends on when you have the most energy.
 

The sentences above provide not only interesting information about exercise but also examples of paired conjunctions (both … and,  not only…but also,   neither…nor,   either…or) in English. In order to learn more about both fitness and paired conjunctions, read on.

 Both / and  &  not only / but also

We use paired conjunctions to connect two ideas in a sentence. Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “Isn’t that what regular conjunctions (and, nor, or, etc.) do?” And the answer is, “Yes!” Coordinating conjunctions do provide a similar service, but we choose to use paired conjunctions for emphasis. Let’s look at how paired conjunctions can emphasize two points in a sentence.

We’ll start by looking at the paired conjunctions both … and … and not only … but also … together because these two pairs communicate the same meaning. They basically mean “and.” They connect two pieces of information that are just additional. Look at the sentence below:

 

 Original: Cardiovascular exercise is good for the heart  and  fun.

In this sentence we learn two things about cardiovascular exercise: it is good for your heart and it is fun. These two ideas are appropriately connected in the sentence with the word and. However, we can express the same sentence with paired conjunctions:

Both … and … : Cardiovascular exercise is both good for the heart and fun.

Not only … but also … : Cardiovascular exercise is not only good for the heart but also fun.

The only difference in meaning between these two sentences and our original sentence is the emphasis that the two ideas about cardiovascular exercise receive.  The paired conjunctions stress that there are two things you need to know about cardiovascular exercise, not just one thing. As a result, the use of these structures is a choice, and the writer or speaker gets to make that choice.

Let’s look at a few more examples of both … and …  and not only … but also … to make sure we really understand their use:

Aerobic exercise is any exercise that both uses large muscle groups and lasts for a long time.

Regular aerobic exercise makes not only your heart but also your lungs function more efficiently.

After doing regular aerobic exercise for several weeks, you will be able to exercise both longer and more vigorously.

A good exercise routine requires not only strength training but also an aerobic workout.

Either/or

Now let’s look at how we use either … or … . As you might imagine, either … or … is similar in meaning to the conjunction or.  What meaning does “or” communicate? If you said, “Choice,” then you’re right! Or and either … or … both communicate a choice between options or possibilities. Let’s see how this idea of options can be expressed using the two different conjunctions. Read the following dialogue between a patient and his doctor:

Patient : My knees hurt when I run. What other kinds of exercises should I do to decrease the impact of the exercise on my knees?

Doctor: You could try swimmingor bicycle riding. Both of these exercises will be gentler on your knees.

Now, our doctor could have chosen to say:

Doctor: You could try either swimming or bicycle riding. Both of these exercises will be gentler on your knees.

By choosing to use either … or …, the doctor is trying to emphasize or stress to her patient that he has options. Again, we see that the use of the paired conjunction is a choice made by the speaker or writer, and that the choice is guided by the desire to emphasize the two things being connected.

Let’s look at a couple of more examples of either … or … to make sure we really understand its use:

If you are hungry after working out, try eating either a granola bar ora fruit bar

Don’t completely abandon your commitment to exercise if either bad weather or illness become brief obstacles.

Neither/nor

While neither … nor … looks similar to either … or …, it is actually closer in meaning to both … and … because it connects additional information. It tells you two things about a topic. Most importantly, however, neither … nor … must be used to connect two negative ideas. Look at the following example:

When attending a yoga class, you need neither your cigarettes noryour cell phone.

According to this sentence, there are two things that you do NOT need in a yoga class: your cigarettes and your cell phone.

Of curse, we could communicate the same ideas with the following sentence:

When attending a yoga class, you don’t need your cigarettes and your cell phone.

Notice that both of these sentences are negative. In the first sentence neither … nor … carries the negative meaning; however, in our second example, the verb carries the negation (don’t).

Since double negatives are not acceptable in standard academic English, it would be wrong to make the verb negative in the first sentence:

Incorrect : When attending a yoga class, you don’t need neither your cigarettes nor your cell phone.

Let’s look at a couple of more examples of neither … nor … to make sure we really understand its use:

Neither watching TV norplaying video games will help you lose weight.

If you are feeling sick, you should neither exercise with a fever norintensify your workout

http://flang1.kendall.mdc.edu/acts/4/440/L440act1/L440act1lec1.htm

 

The Importance of Parallelism

When you use paired conjunctions to connect two words or phrases in a sentence, you need to keep parallelism in mind. What is parallelism? Whenever you connect two items in a sentence with a conjunction, those two items need to be “parallel.” That means the same grammatical structure (noun, verb, adjective, clause, etc.) should follow each part of the paired conjunction. Look at the following examples.

Notice that the words or phrases connected by the paired conjunctions have the same word form (or part of speech):

Both 

weight loss

and 

better posture

are benefits of being physically fit.

 

 

noun phrase

 

noun phrase

 

            

Being in good shape

not only

improves your heart health

but also

increases your self-image.

 

 

verb phrase

 

verb phrase

      

If you can't go to the gym, try 

either 

taking a short, fast walk

or

running up and down the stairs.

 

 

gerund phrase

 

gerund phrase

                    

For some people, the road to getting into shape is

neither 

short 

nor 

easy

, but it’s worth it.

 

 

adjective   

 

adjective

 

                       

Another thing to keep in mind when you use paired conjunctions is the placement of the paired conjunction in your sentence. Look at the two sentences below. In the first sentence, the paired conjunction is placed correctly. In the second sentence, it is not. Why? What’s the difference?

Correct:  She is not only strong    but also flexible.

Incorrect:  She  not only is strong but also flexible.

In this example, we are trying to use the paired conjunction to connect two adjectives: "strong" and "flexible". As a result, we need to put part 1 of the paired conjunction "not only" immediately before the first adjective "strong", and part 2 of the paired conjunction "but also" needs to go immediately before the second adjective.

 However, if you look at our incorrect sentence, you will notice that the verb "is" appears between part 1 of the conjunction "not only" and the adjective "strong". We are not connecting two verbs; we are connecting two adjectives. As a result, we need to place the two parts of our paired conjunction as close as possible to the items that we are connecting. In this example, it is wrong to place the verb between the first part of the paired conjunction and the word that it is connecting.

http://flang1.kendall.mdc.edu/acts/4/440/L440act2/L440act2lec2.htm

Subject-Verb Agreement and Paired Conjunctions

Look at the sentences below. Pay close attention to the form of the verb in each sentence. What changes do you notice?

Ø Example #1: Both the players and the coach were disappointed by the loss.

Ø Example #2: Not only the players but also the coach was disappointed by the loss.

Ø Example #2a: Not only the coach but also the players were disappointed by the loss.
 

These three sentences communicate basically the same idea: the players and the coach were all disappointed because they lost a game. However, the verb is plural in examples #1 and #2a and singular in example #2. Let’s look at them one by one to see what’s going on:

Example #1:

 

Both the players and the coach were disappointed by the loss.

Explanation: In this sentence our subjects (the players and the coach) are connected by the paired conjunction both … and …. Here’s a little rule you’ll want to remember about subjects like these:

 Rule: Subjects that are connected by both … and … always take a plural verb.  

So we could rewrite the sentence this way …

Example 1a:

Both the coach and the players were disappointed by the loss.

… and the verb would still be plural. That seems easy enough, right? Well, don’t get too relaxed because this is where things get more interesting.

Let’s take another look at examples #2 and #2a  from above:

Ø  Example #2:

Not only the players but also the coach was disappointed by the loss.

Ø  Example #2a:

Not only the coach but also the players were disappointed by the loss.

You should notice that the differences between these two sentences are 1) the order of the two subjects and 2) the form of the verbs. In example #2, the players comes first and the coach comes second, while in example #2a, the coach comes first and the players comes second.

In examples #1 and #1a above we saw that changing the order of the subjects doesn’t affect the verb form when you use both … and … to connect your subjects. This is not true, however, when you use not only … but also … , either … or …, or neither … nor … to connect your subjects. Here’s another little rule to keep in mind.

Rule: When you use not only … but also …, either … or …, or neither … nor … to connect two subjects, the subject closest to the verb determines if the verb is singular or plural.

Let’s see how this rule is in operation in examples #2 and #2a:

Ø  Example #2:

Not only 

the players

but also 

the coach

was

disappointed by the loss.

 

 

 

singular
noun

singular
verb

 

Not only the players but also the coach was disappointed by the loss.

                                          singular                            singular
                                           noun                                 verb

Ø  Example #2a:

Not only 

the coach 

but also 

the players 

were

disappointed by the loss.

 

 

 

plural
noun

plural
verb

 

         

Here are some more examples that show how this rule operates:

Ø  Example 3:

When the city holds a marathon,

either 

Maureen 

or

the volunteers

run

the registration table.

 

 

 

 

plural
noun

plural
verb

 

Ø  Example 3a:

When the city holds a marathon,

either 

the volunteers

or

Maureen

runs

the registration table.

 

 

 

 

singular
noun

singular
verb

 

 

Ø      Example 4:

Neither 

the clients

nor 

the trainer

was

  happy with the contract.
 

 

 

 

singular
noun

singular
verb

 

Ø      Example 4a:

Neither 

the trainer

nor 

the clients

were

  happy with the contract.
 

 

 

 

plural
noun

plural
verb

 

http://flang1.kendall.mdc.edu/acts/4/440/L440act3/L440act3lec3.htm

http://flang1.kendall.mdc.edu/acts/4/440/L440Finalcomp/L440Finalcomp.htm

Connecting Ideas with paired conjunctions

Putting It All Together

Expansion Activity

 

Topics:             Health Living/Sports

  • Think of the following questions about your lifestyle and health.
  • Use the words in parentheses to write a compound sentence in which you answer the question.
  • Post your sentences.

EXAMPLE:   Do you exercise regularly?   Do you eat healthily?  (and)

ANSWER:     I exercise regularly, and I eat healthily.

1. Do you practice deep-breathing to relieve stress?  Do you try to have positive thoughts at all times.  (Not only…but also)    

2. Do you smoke cigarettes?  Do you take illegal drugs?  (nor)

3. Do you have your cholesterol checked yearly?  Do you eat low-fat, low-calorie foods?  (so)

4. Do you stay active?  Do you run or walk briskly for at least 20 minutes twice a week?  (for)

5. Do you have a busy schedule?  Do you try to find time for things you enjoy doing?  (but)

 

 

 

Now try this exercise:

http://esl.about.com/library/lessons/nblpaireds.htm