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A subordinating conjunction is an adverb or adverbial phrase that introduces into a sentence a subordinate adverbial clause, which functions to modify adverbially the main sentence clause or a part of the main sentence clause, usually the main verb. Additionally, the subordinate clause also introduces a new idea, or proposition, into the sentence. This new idea, or proposition, expressed in the subordinate clause is said to carry less weight, or importance, than the idea expressed in the main sentence clause.

We might also note that a subordinate adverbial clause modifies the main sentence clause by introducing one of the following concepts into the main sentence clause: addition, cause & effect, comparison, concession, contrast, emphasis, example, summary, or sequence. Many words and phrases can function as subordinating conjunctions. Following is a list of those frequently used in English. Note: many words that function as a subordinating conjunction can also function as other parts of speech.

Common Subordinating Conjunctions

(These Adverbs Can Also Function as Conjunctions, Transitions & Expletives)
after although as as if
as long as as though because before
even though if in order that provided that
rather than since so that than
though unless until when
whenever where whereas wherever
whether while  

Subordinating Conjunction Introduces Subordinate Clause

A subordinate, or dependent, adverbial clause functions within a sentence to modify the main clause or a part of the main clause, usually the main verb. The idea, or what is sometimes called the proposition, contained within a subordinate clause is said to be of lesser rank or importance than the idea expressed in the main clause. Although their name suggests otherwise, subordinating conjunctions are not true conjunctions; but the name derives from their ability to incorporate into a sentence another idea in addition to the idea expressed by the main clause.

Because many of the words described as subordinating conjunctions can also function as other parts of speech, a word functioning as a subordinate conjunction is identified by function alone. All subordinating conjunctions are adverbs or adverbial phrases; but not all adverbs or adverbial phrases are subordinating conjunctions. Some adverbs can, for instance, function as conjunctive adverbs or adverbial expletives .

Note in each following example that the main sentence clause appears in unhighlighted text. This is the main idea, or proposition, expressed in each sentence. Subordinate clauses appear in accentuated text; the subordinating conjunction is underlined. Can you determine which one of the several concepts (mentioned above) the subordinate clause introduces into the main sentence clause?

Because Norman was constantly late, Mr. Russell cut him from band practice.

Take two tablets daily until the doctor tells you to stop.

If she's going, I will not go.

Although the carpet had been treated, it was stained by the red wine.

Sarah cooked our supper while I mowed the lawn.

Nebil sings opera as though he were Luciano Parvarotti.

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