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Coordinating Conjunction: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Patricia Vineski
In this lesson, you'll learn what a coordinating conjunction is and how to use coordinating conjunctions to vary your sentence structure and make your writing more interesting. Take a look at some examples, and then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Definition

Believe it or not, we need coordinating conjunctions. We need them to express more than a single thought, feeling, or action. We need coordinating conjunctions to say things like, 'Gordon will not go camping or hiking or swimming in the river' or 'Susan loves curry and chapati bread,' or 'Shelley stumbled and fell off the balcony, but was unhurt by the fall.' We need coordinating conjunctions to talk about more than a single idea or possibility. We need them to say things like 'My brother, Mike, doesn't like cats, and my sister, Karen, doesn't like dogs' or 'The cat is hiding under the couch, in the cupboard, or on top of the bookcase.' We need coordinating conjunctions to express the many complex ideas that make up our world.

A coordinating conjunction is a word that connects words, phrases, or sentences. When a coordinating conjunction joins together two sentences, the resulting sentence is called a compound sentence. There are seven coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.

Examples

1) A coordinating conjunction can be used to connect words. If two words are connected, there is no need for a comma. If, however, a coordinating conjunction is used to connect a series of words, they must be separated by a comma.

  • For example, in the sentence, 'Joey likes cookies and milk,' the coordinating conjunction 'and' connects the words 'cookies' and 'milk' and tells readers that Joey likes both cookies and milk, and no comma is necessary between the two items.
  • If, however, we add another item to the list, such as bananas, we get, 'Joey likes cookies, milk, and bananas.' The coordinating conjunction 'and' now connects three items, 'cookies,' 'milk,' and 'bananas,' and a comma is necessary to separate them in order to clearly tell readers that Joey likes all three items.

2) A coordinating conjunction can be used to connect phrases. If two phrases are connected there is no need for a comma. If, however, a coordinating conjunction is used to connect a series of phrases, they must be separated by a comma.

  • For example, in the sentence, 'The bird is hiding in the roses or in the chrysanthemums,' the coordinating conjunction 'or' connects the phrases, 'The bird is hiding in the roses' and 'in the chrysanthemums.' This tells readers that the bird is hiding in one or the other of the two places, 'in the roses' or 'in the chrysanthemums,' and does not require a comma to separate the two phrases.
  • If, however, we add another possible hiding place such as 'in the oak tree,' we get 'The bird is hiding in the roses, in the chrysanthemums, or in the oak tree.' The coordinating conjunction, 'or,' now connects three phrases, 'in the roses, in the chrysanthemums,' and 'in the oak tree,' and requires a commas to separate them and clearly tell readers that the bird may be hiding in any one of those three places.

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