Conjunctions in English Grammar

Introduction

Conjunctions, also called connecting or linking words, are words like and, or, so and when. We use them to join words, phrases and clauses. Coordinating conjunctions, such as and, or but, join two words, phrases or independent clauses together. Subordinating conjunctions, such as after, although, so or as, join an independent clause with a dependent or subordinate one.

Learn about coordinating and subordinating conjunctions in English grammar then practice using them in the exercises at the end of the lesson.

Example

Christine is happy because she is on holiday.

She loves the sea and spends every summer on England’s east coast.

She wants to see the sunset – that’s why she has come to the beach.

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Conjunctions and Subjunctions

Some typical conjunctions (coordinate conjunctions) are and, or, but. They connect two main clauses.

Example:
She loves the sea and spends every summer on England’s east coast.

Some typical subjunctions (subordinate conjunctions) include: because, as, when.

Example:
Christine is happy because she is on holiday.

A subjunction introduces a dependent clause that expresses a reason, a condition, a result or purpose, a time, or a contradiction (see following overview).

Example:
She wants to see the sunset – that’s why she has come to the beach.

Overview

functiontypical conjunctionsexample
reason
  • because
  • as
  • that’s why
  • Christine is happy because she is on holiday.
  • As/Since it is sunny, she is going to spend the day at the beach.
  • She wants to see the sunset – that’s why she has come to the beach.
condition
  • if
  • If Christine has the time, she spends a few weeks by the sea each year.
result, purpose
  • that
  • so that
  • so
  • She arrived so late at the beach today that the sun had almost set.
  • She has come to the beach so that she can see the sunset.
  • She has come to the beach, so she can see the sunset.
time
  • before
  • after
  • when
  • until
  • since
  • while
  • She had a lot of work to do before she went on holiday.
  • After she has spent a few weeks here, she feels relaxed.
  • When she was here last year, she discovered a wonderful restaurant.
  • When she gets back from the beach, she and her husband are going to eat out.
  • She is going to stay at the beach until the sun has disappeared.
  • She has got a suntan since her holiday started.
  • She can see the sunset while she is walking along the beach.
contradiction
  • although
  • whereas
  • She loves the sea although she cannot swim.
  • She loves the sea, whereas her husband prefers the mountains.