Conjunction: Definition & Writing Examples

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  • 0:05 Definition of Conjunctions
  • 2:07 Examples
  • 3:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Susan Nami

Susan has taught middle school English for five years and has a master's degree in teaching.

Why do we need conjunctions? How are they useful in our writing? Read this lesson to unearth the answers to these questions and to discover the conjunction in a whole new way.

Definition of Conjunctions

Imagine a world without conjunctions. I dare you to try. Isolated ideas strung together all willy-nilly. Words crashing into each other without purpose or reason. Sentences confused and unsure of where to turn. 'Horrifying' barely describes it. Have no fear. Luckily, this nightmare world does not exist thanks to the power of the conjunction.

Conjunctions help make the world right mostly because their function is to join, link and transition words, phrases and clauses in our writing. There are three types of conjunctions: coordinating, subordinating and correlative.

The most common of these, the coordinating conjunction, is used to coordinate or join words, phrases and clauses. Coordinating conjunctions include: for, and, nor, but, or, yet and so. One way that I always remember these conjunctions is the acronym FANBOYS. I always imagine some boy band from the '90s: 'Tonight…one time only…live…the FANBOYS!!!' And, but, or and so are definitely the most popular of the FANBOYS, but the others serve their purpose and can be very helpful when needed.

Subordinating conjunctions are used to subordinate clauses or make them dependent on an independent clause. An independent clause is another word for a sentence. It has a subject and a verb, and it can stand on its own as a complete thought. A subordinate clause also has a subject and a verb, but it cannot stand alone because it is an incomplete sentence. It needs an independent clause to make it complete. Subordinating conjunctions also help transition ideas or events between these clauses by showing a change in time, place or event. These conjunctions include: as, although, after, before, because, if, since, though, whenever, while, until and when.

Finally, the correlative conjunction, the rarest of conjunctions, correlates or connects two ideas and always travels in pairs. These include: either/or, neither/nor, both/and and not only/but also.

Examples

Let's take a look at some examples.

Coordinating conjunctions can join:

Words…

In a perfect world, I could eat jelly beans AND chocolate all day long without gaining any weight.

Phrases…

I would never have to exercise OR go to the gym.

And clauses…

I would burn calories by sitting on the couch, AND sweatpants would be perfectly acceptable clothing for the workplace.

Subordinating conjunctions are used at the beginning of a subordinate clause and help link or transition to an independent clause. They make one clause subordinate or dependent on the other.

AFTER I ate an entire bag of jelly beans, I felt horrible.

Here the subordinating conjunction, 'after,' begins a subordinate clause and helps explain why the person feels so horrible.

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