Subordinating Conjunction Activities

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Putting a name to the seemingly endless number of English grammar terms and concepts can be enjoyable if you use the right activities. This lesson provides teachers with subordinating conjunction activities for classroom use.

Know Your Conjunctions

The activities in this lesson can greatly benefit your learners, particularly after they've already acquired some knowledge of subordinating conjunctions. However, no matter how much conjunction knowledge your students go into this lesson with, a little refresher can be very helpful.

  • Subordinating conjunctions are used at the beginning of a subordinating clause.
  • A subordinating clause (also called a dependent clause) contains a subject and a verb, but because it's dependent and begins with a subordinating conjunction, it is not a complete sentence on its own. For example:
    • Because she was tired,

Ask for students to provide you with a list of subordinating conjunctions, and supplement their answers with the following:

  • After, although, as, because, before, even if, even though, if, just as, now that, once, rather than, since, though, unless, until, when, whenever, where, whereas, whether, while.

Keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list of subordinating conjunctions, but rather a starting point upon which students can build.

Subordinator Blanks

Write the following sentences on the board or print them out to give to each student.

  1. _____ she didn't win, she will try again next year.
  2. _____ the cat could jump, the window closed.
  3. _____ you go to the park, make sure you bring a ball.
  4. _____ your parents are gone, you should clean your room.
  5. _____ the bus gets here soon, you will be late for school.

Give students some time to insert an appropriate subordinating conjunction into each sentence. Once this is completed, you can ask for volunteers to share their choices with the class. You can also discuss how the choice of coordinating conjunction can change the meaning of the sentence. For example:

  • Because your parents are gone, you should clean your room.
  • Although your parents are gone, you should clean your room.

It's clear from this example that using 'because' or 'although' changes the reason or excuse for cleaning the room.

Next, put the students into pairs and have them create their own fill-in-the-blank sentences, following the example of the introductory sentences. Finally, have the student pairs exchange sentences and fill in the missing subordinating conjunctions.

Subordinating Removal

This activity will show your learners how the removal of a subordinating conjunction can grammatically affect a sentence. Write these sentences on the board:

  1. Time is important, even if you don't use it wisely.
  2. Whenever the class goes outside, the teacher will bring a blanket.
  3. When people are mean, you should try to be nice.
  4. Since learning about sharks, Trish has been very happy.
  5. Rather than taking the shortcut, the runners went all the way around the field.

Now, the goal is for students to remove the subordinating conjunctions from each sentence and rewrite the sentence to be grammatically correct. Students should try to stick as closely as possible to the original meaning of the sentence. For instance:

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