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A conjunction is a part of speech that connects two words, sentences, phrases or clauses together.

Conjunctions join together two or more words, phrases, or clauses. There are three types of conjunction: Coordinating, Subordinating, and Correlative.

Coordinating Conjunctions

There are only seven Coordinating Conjunctions and they form the easy to remember acronym, Fanboys:

For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So

Coordinating Conjunctions are only used in between the equal words, phrases and clauses they join together. What we mean by equal words is that the conjunction can be used to link nouns to nouns or adjectives to adjectives, et cetera but not nouns to adverbs.

Connecting words: Children like cake and ice cream.
Connecting phrases: The ice cream is in the freezer or on the counter.
Connecting clauses: What you say and what you mean are two different things.

Subordinating Conjunctions

This type of conjunction also joins two clauses together; however, true to its name, by doing so it makes one clause dependent on (subordinate to) the other. Take these two simple sentences as an example:

One: I like drinking coffee.
Two: My teeth are stained.

Using because will join both sentences together, however either sentence you add because to is no longer a complete sentence - it becomes a subordinate clause:

One: Because I like drinking coffee... (sentence fragment)
Two: My teeth are stained because... (sentence fragment)
Correct One: Because I like drinking coffee, my teeth are stained.
Correct Two: My teeth are stained because I like drinking coffee

As you can see from the Correct One example, the conjunction can appear at the beginning of the sentence. When you choose this option, always remember that your clauses need to be separated by a comma. To put that another way, the comma acts like a coordinating conjunction.

The list of subordinating conjunctions is quite large, with many subordinators acting also as prepositions and adverbs:

Although, Because, If, Once, Since, Than, That, Unless, While

Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative Conjunctions always come in pairs. Just like Coordinating Conjunctions, they are used to join equal words and phrases. The more common conjunctions are:

  • Either...Or
  • Both...And
  • Not Only...But Also

Either a PS4 or a Wii U is the perfect gift.
Both the cake and the ice cream are first come, first serve.
Not only is this a celebration for me but also a good excuse to meet new people.

Note: Many adverbs can be used in between clauses just like conjunctions. They follow the formula: [Clause One + Semi-Colon + Adverb + Comma + Clause Two].

The day was too hot; nevertheless, the birthday party was held outdoors.

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