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A conjunctive adverb is an adverb or adverbial phrase that joins two independent clauses (like a coordinating conjunction) and provides adverbial emphasis to the resulting construction. The new construction always results in a compound or compound-complex sentence structure. Conjunctive adverbs are also called adverbial conjunctions. Although their name suggests otherwise, conjunctive adverbs are not considered true conjunctions, even though these adverbs join independent clauses.

A conjunctive adverb modifies a word (usually a verb) in the second clause, answering when? where? how? why? under what condition? or to what degree? an action occurred or a situation existed. Additionally, as with other adverbs, e.g., subordinate conjunctions, which introduce a subordinate adverbial clause, conjunctive adverbs typically express a relationship between clauses, sentences, or paragraphs that involve the concept of addition, cause & effect, comparison, concession, contrast, emphasis, example, summary, or sequence.

An adverb or adverbial phrase--whether a subordinating conjunction, conjunctive adverb, transition, or adverbial expletive--is always identified and defined by function alone. For example, the adverbs however, consequently, always, indeed, etc., to name only a few, commonly function as conjunctive adverbs. However, these same words can also be transitions and/or expletives in other sentences. To correctly identify an adverb, we must examine its position relative to the rest of a sentence or paragraph.

Adverbs and adverbial phrases, in highlighted text, function as conjunctive adverbs in the following examples.

Dennis went to the symphony; consequently, he was suspended from the band.

Barry seems very friendly; incidentally, he's the same sign as I am.

Our horse is a great jumper; on the other hand, he isn't very good in the races.

Max appears to be a level-headed guy; still, there's something about him that's just not right.

Transitional Elements

From the preceding we know that a conjunctive adverb (a word or phrase) appears between independent clauses acting like a coordinating conjunction. In addition to this function, a conjunctive adverb can appear between entire sentences, acting as a connector, or bridge, between the sentences. Conjunctive adverbs can also appear between entire paragraphs acting as a connector between these constructions. Adverbs functioning in either of these capacities are called transitional elements, or simply, transitions. In the following examples, adverbs functioning as transitions appear in highlighted text.

Most of us would like to believe that all persons are created equal. However, the real word isn't based upon idealistic beliefs.

(An example of an adverb functioning as a connector between two sentences. We call these adverbs transitions.)

It's unfortunate that many students resent our testing procedures because they most times seem tedious, confusing, and psychologically taxing. Graduate students are wont to recall these times with considerable horror.

Therefore, while I refrain from claiming that these tests are actually damaging, I submit that we need to develop strategies that will help us to overcome false results.

(An example of an adverb functioning as a connector between two paragraphs.)

Adverbial Expletive

An adverb can function within a sentence as an expletive, or interrupter--a word or phrase that is mildly or definitely parenthetical content. Adverbial expletives can appear nearly anywhere within a sentence. Expletives do not introduce dependent clauses, join independent clauses, or act as a bridge between sentences or paragraphs. They are empty words inserted into a sentence which add nothing materially to the meaning of the sentence. Examples follow.

Her face, however, was spared the ravages of the fire.

Toni found that old sofa, by the way, lying in a vacant lot.

The new students, incidentally, don't have enough pencils.

Pamela will certainly win the match.

By the way, are you going to the dance?

Common Conjunctive Adverbs

(These Adverbs Can Also Function as Subordinators, Transitions & Expletives)
accordingly again also anyway
as a matter of fact as a result at the same time besides
certainly consequently finally for example
furthermore however incidentally in fact
indeed in other words in that in the first place
likewise meanwhile moreover nevertheless
nonetheless now on the other hand otherwise
similarly still then therefore

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