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CONJUNCTIONS

A conjunction is a part of speech that (1) joins words, phrases, and clauses and (2) indicates a relationship between the joined elements. There are four kinds of conjunctions

Coordinating Conjunction

A coordinating conjunction is a single word that joins words, phrases, and clauses of equal grammatical construction.

Examples are knives and spoons (noun & noun), run or shout (verb & verb), down the stairs and around the house (prepositional phrase & prepositional phrase).

Coordinating conjunctions also join complete sentences, i.e., independent clauses.

These conjunctions also imbue equal grammatical weight, or rank, to the joined elements.


Correlative Conjunction

A correlative conjunction is a paired conjunction that, like a coordinating conjunction, joins elements of equal grammatical construction. Correlative conjunctions also imbue equal grammatical weight to elements they join. However, they do not join independent clauses; these paired conjunctions only join equal elements within an independent clause, forming compound elements, i.e., subject & subject, verb & verb, object & object, etc.


Subordinating Conjunction

A subordinating conjunction is an adverb that introduces a subordinate adverbial clause and joins the subordinate clause to the rest of the sentence. The idea, or proposition, expressed by the subordinate clause has less grammatical weight (rank or importance) than the idea expressed by the main clause. Subordinating conjunctions are not true conjunctions; their name, however, derives from their ability to join clauses. Most subordinators are a single word, but some are composed of two or more words, i.e., a phrase.

Conjunctive Adverb

(Includes transitions & adverbial expletives)

A conjunctive adverb is an adverb or adverbial phrase that joins two independent clauses (like a coordinating conjunction) and provides adverbial emphasis.

However, conjunctive adverbs are not considered true conjunctions.

Sometimes a conjunctive adverb can function as a connector, or bridge, a word or phrase that helps to link entire sentences or paragraphs.

Conjunctive adverbs that perform this function are called transitional elements or transitions.

Finally, an adverbial word or phrase can function as an expletive, i.e., a function word. (See below.) An expletive is an exclamatory word inserted into a sentence that adds nothing to the meaning of the sentence.

† Usage Note
A function word, e.g., an article, preposition, or conjunction, is a word that has little semantic meaning of its own and chiefly indicates a grammatical relationship. Also called a form word or functor.



I.  COORDINATING CONJUNCTION
     (Joins words, phrases, clauses)

There are seven coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so --> F-A-N-B-O-Y-S.

A coordinating conjunction joins elements of equal grammatical construction, e.g., two or more nouns, verbs, phrases, or clauses. Additionally, coordinating conjunctions can join two or more independent clauses into a single sentence. When joining independent clauses, a coordinating conjunction also joins the propositions, or ideas, expressed in each independent clause. Coordinating conjunctions lend equal weight, or importance, to the grammatical elements and the ideas they join.

In the following examples, coordinating conjunctions appear in accentuated text; the joined elements are underlined.



Jack and Jill went up the hill.

(Coordinating conjunction joins two grammatically equal elements: two nouns, Jack and Jill. Additionally, the elements joined by the coordinating conjunction are equally important to the idea of the sentence, i.e., the nouns Jack and Jill are equally important to sentence meaning.)


The fur of polar bears is often pure white, but sometimes one will find a bear with grey fur.

(A coordinating conjunction joins two independent clauses. The conjunction gives equal weight to the idea expressed by each clause.)


You'll find shampoo products on aisle two or on aisle three.

(Coordinating conjunction joins two prepositional phrases, grammatically equal elements. Also, the coordinating conjunction gives equal weight to both phrases.)


The industrialists are monsters, so we believe their doctrine is monstrous.

(Two independent clauses are joined.)


The parish priest is desperate and anxious, for his congregation is nearly gone.

(Two nouns are joined; in addition, two independent clauses are joined by for.)


The Irish famine of 1846-50 took a million lives, nor was a single household spared hardship.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights seeks to protect humankind, yet abuses around the world continue to rage unchecked.

Semantic Relationship of Coordinates

As we have seen, coordinating conjunctions, or coordinates, all share the same function of connecting words, phrases, and clauses with equal emphasis to the joined elements. These same coordinates, however, each express a specific semantic relationship between the joined elements.
and • joins two propositions (ideas)
Ex:  In 376 B.C.E., several Greek cities joined in a naval alliance against Sparta; and Athens won back control of the sea.
 
but • joins two contrastive propositions (ideas)
Ex:  The wine is sweet, but the bread is moldy.
 
or • joins two alternative propositions (ideas)
Ex:  Is that a distant oasis, or do my eyes deceive me?
 
so • first idea (the cause) results in second idea (the effect)
Ex:  The honeymooners began quarreling, so now they sleep in different rooms.
 
for • used to mean seeing that, since, or because
Ex:  He went to the party alone, for I refused go with him.
 
nor • used in negative expressions
Ex:  He nor I plan to attend any social functions this year.
 
yet • used to mean though, still, and nevertheless
Ex:  The pudding is good, yet it could have been better.
Usage Note
The conjunctions and, but, or, so, and nor can join words, phrases, or clauses. However, for and yet can join only independent clauses. Consequently, some grammarians consider the former a preposition and the latter a subordinating conjunction.



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