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A conjunction is the part of speech used as a “joiner” for words, phrases, or clauses in a particular sentence. They link words or groups of words together so that certain relationships among these different parts of the sentence will be established, and the thoughts that all of these convey will be connected.
There are three types of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and correlative conjunctions.
1. Coordinating Conjunctions
Among the three types of conjunctions, coordinating conjunctions are the most common. The main function of coordinating conjunctions is to join words, phrases, and clauses together, which are usually grammatically equal. Aside from that, this type of conjunction is placed between the words or groups of words that it links together, and not at the beginning or at the end. There are seven coordinating conjunctions in the English language. You can use the mnemonic device FANBOYS to remember them.
The coordinating conjunctions are: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So
Chips and salsa is one of my favorite snacks.
In this example, “and” is the coordinating conjunction that links two words together (chips + salsa).
I left my shoes at the top of the stairs or in my bedroom.
In this example, or is the coordinating conjunction that demonstrates how two (or more) phrases can be joined together. The coordinating conjunction “or” links the phrases “at the top of the stairs” and “in my bedroom.”
Coordinating conjunctions can be used with commas to create compound sentences. A compound sentence is a sentence consisting of two independent clauses. That is, a compound sentence is simply two complete sentences joined by a comma and a coordinating conjunction.
The host of the party fell asleep, so everyone went home.
In this example, “comma + so” links the two independent clauses (sentences) “The host of the party fell asleep” and “everyone went home.”
2. Subordinating Conjunctions join an independent clause to a subordinate clause. That is, they join a clause that can stand alone with a clause that cannot stand alone.
Some frequently used subordinating conjunctions are:
after, although, as, as far as, as if, as soon as, because, before, even if, even though, how, if, in case, in that, no matter how, now that, once, provided, since, so that, supposing, though, unless, until, when, whenever, where, wherever, whether, while
After you finish your dinner, you can have dessert.
Because it is so late, we will finish this tomorrow.
The baseball game will continue, even if it rains.
You have to finish this work today, whether you like it or not.
In the sentences above, a subordinating conjunction is either at the beginning of the sentence or between the clauses that it links together. Regardless of the location of the subordinating conjunction, a comma should always be placed between the two clauses (independent clause and dependent clause) of the sentence.
3. Correlative Conjunctions also join ideas, but they work in pairs. They are:
Not only am I your colleague, but your friend as well.
Either you finish your homework tonight, or you wake up early tomorrow morning and finish it then.