Parts of Speech
Conjunctions

Conjunction

A conjunction joins words, phrases, or clauses.

There are different kinds of conjunctions, and each performs a different task.

Coordinate conjunctions

Coordinate conjunctions join words, phrases, or clauses of equal grammatical value.

Some coordinate conjunctions are and, or, and so.

Betty and Mary went to the matinee on Saturday afternoon.

The coordinate conjunction and joins the words Betty and Mary, both of which are grammatically equal because they are nouns.

They went to the matinee and then they visited the soda shop.

The coordinate conjunction and joins the clauses They went to the matinee and then they visited the soda shop. Both of these clauses are grammatically equal because they are principal clauses.

Mary finally received her inheritance, so now she can travel.

The coordinate conjunction so joins the principal clauses Mary finally received her inheritance and now she can travel.

Subordinate conjunctions

Subordinate conjunctions join clauses of unequal grammatical value. One is a principal clause (which makes sense by itself); the other is a subordinate clause (which does not make sense by itself).

They went to the soda shop after they went to the matinee.

The subordinate conjunction after begins the subordinate clause after they went to the matinee.

Some subordinate conjunctions are after, although, as, because, before, for, if, since, unless, until, when, where, whereas, and while.

Note: Some of these words can also be used as prepositions and adverbs.

Correlative conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are conjunctions that are used in pairs, such as either...or, both...and and neither...nor.
These conjunctions must join words that are grammatically equal.

Neither you nor I am worthy of the trust these people have placed in us.

These correlative conjunctions join two pronouns you and I; these words are grammatically equal.

 The mother told her child either to wash the dishes or sweep the floor.

These correlatives either and or are not joining equal grammatical phrases. To wash the dishes and sweep the floor are not grammatically equal because one begins with an infinitive (to wash) and the other begins with a verb (sweep).

To correct this sentence, place the to before either.

 The mother told her child to either wash the dishes or sweep the floor.

The two phrases are now grammatically equal because both of them begin with a verb.

Practice

Instructions: Identify the 10 conjunctions in the following sentences.

  1. Mrs. Smith entered the restaurant where she was seated by the hostess and then greeted by the waiter.
  2. The menu offered a choice of soup or salad for the appetizer and chicken or steak for the entree.
  3. While she was trying to choose from the menu, her husband joined her for dinner.
  4. After they finished their meal, they debated going to a movie or to a hockey game.
  5. They were both tired from an early rise in the morning and their busy day at work, so they went home instead.

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