I know you would use but to combine two opposite ideas, and use and to combine two similar ideas. And I understand that similar would imply that the relationship between the two should not be cause and effect or one that explains the other, so they are two separate thoughts.

The two sentences below are similar, but the second one explains or details the first, and so, I think, it does not lend itself to coordination using and.

Saturn has about twenty moons. Titan is the largest.

In other words, what do you think of combining the previous sentences with and?

Saturn has about twenty moons, and Titan is the largest.

The example was a run-on sentence from the book Elements of Language, and was fixed by splitting the two ideas. However, I would like to find out whether the approach was the only way or just a matter of preference.


And is fine to use in this sentence, but there are a wide range of possible conjunctions in English besides and, but, and or. Many are more specialized to fit a particular circumstance -- for example, in the case where you want to join A to B, where B is one example of A, the conjunction "of which" works nicely:

Saturn has about twenty moons, of which Titan is the largest.

So I think that while and is usually a perfectly acceptable way to join two sentences, it's not always the best way.

A large (but not comprehensive) list of English conjunctions

  • 1
    I wouldn't go along with that. "Which" is clearly anaphoric in your example, and hence the expression "of which Titan is the largest" must be a relative clause. The relative phrase is the preposition phrase "of which" where "which" is the complement of the prep "of" with the noun phrase "about twenty moons" as antecedent. Such relative constructions are very common
    – BillJ
    Nov 7 '16 at 12:18
  • Yeah, I agree that it is problematic to call of which a conjunction. I would call which here a relative pronoun in the relative clause of which Titan is the largest. I was gonna write this last night but got distracted. Nov 7 '16 at 16:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .