Conjunctions – Why You Need Them and How to Use Them!

We’ve covered a few different parts of speech on our blog so far, and one of the most important, but often forgotten parts, is conjunctions.

What are they?

Well, conjunctions are words that grammatically connect two words, phrases, or clauses together.

We will talk about basic, coordinating (linking) conjunctions here and for those of you that are a little more advanced in English – check out our post on subordinating conjunctions, which is a little more challenging!

Now, back to the basics…

The most common conjunction examples are ‘and’, ‘but’ and ‘so’, and we’ll take a look at these examples first:

‘I fed the dog and then I went to work.’

This is two clauses (a subject, a verb and an object) joined together with a conjunction – ‘and’.

‘I wanted to leave early but it was too busy at the office.

Two clauses are also joined together here, however the conjunction ‘but’ introduces a contrast.

‘It was raining outside so I remembered to take my umbrella.’ –

Two clauses are joined together again, this time using ‘so’ which gives the result of an occurrence. It is raining and the effect of that rain is that I am taking an umbrella outside. We use ‘so’ for this.

There are a few more basic conjunctions and a very easy way of remembering them using the word FANBOYS. Let’s have a look!

But do you know what they all mean? Let’s have a look at something in a little more detail.

This is an excellent way of remembering the meanings of the most commonly used conjunctions.

But one important thing to note is that we shouldn’t overuse conjunctions. Take a look at this piece of writing and see if you can spot a problem:

I got up at 8:30am and I took a shower and brushed my teeth and then I got dressed and I had my breakfast and I got on the bus to go to work and then I had lunch later and then I did some more work and then I checked my emails and then I went home and had my dinner.

Phew! That whole paragraph was actually one big, long sentence! It doesn’t give the reader time to breathe!

While it’s great to use conjunctions – we need to keep in mind two things: firstly use a variety of conjunctions and not the same one over and over, and secondly don’t use them too much. Include some full stops throughout your writing to break it up a bit. This would be a much better example:

I got up at 8:30am and I took a shower and brushed my teeth. After that, I got dressed and had my breakfast. After eating, I got on the bus to work and a few hours later I had some lunch. I was tired but I did a little more work so that I could leave the office earlier. I then went home and had my dinner.

Sounds better, right?

Another important tip – we DO NOT have to use commas when ‘fanboy’ conjunctions connect words or phrases. Some of my students ask if they should use a comma after words like ‘and’ or ‘but’ – it’s not needed!

For instance,

‘Jane showered and went to work.’

In this example, ‘and’ is joining two phrases together, so there is no need for a comma. It is already clear.

However, it is different when conjunctions are joining two clauses. When I say clauses, I basically mean complete sentences. Here, a comma is needed BEFORE the conjunction. Let’s look at an example:

‘Sarah will bake some cakes, and Peter will bring the snacks.’

It’s a little different here because each clause is a completely separate story, with a different subject too. One is about Sarah baking cakes, and the other is about Peter and the snacks, so we need a comma to break it up a little. All of this makes it easier on the reader.

Time for a little exercise to see if you’ve memorized the FANBOYS correctly 😉

  1. Lisa was cold _____ she put a jacket on.
  2. Laura tried to study Arabic _____ it was too hard.
  3. I bought us both some coffee ______ we can sit and drink together.
  4. To get to Riyadh from Jeddah, you can fly, drive ______ take the bus.
  5. Ann needed some extra money _____ she took a second job.
  6. Ahmed has a piano ______ he plays really well.
  7. It’s really hot every day _________ it’s the middle of summer right now.
  8. I go to the library, _____ I love to read.
  9. I refuse to hug people I don’t know, _____ will I kiss them.
  10. The dress was beautiful _______ expensive.
  11. Do you like chocolate _______ vanilla better?
  12. She was sad _____ her mum managed to make her laugh.

Scroll down to check your answers and see if you got them correct or not! Good luck J

Once you feel more confident about using coordinating conjunctions and you’ve practiced them, check out our more advanced post on subordinating conjunctions!

 

Answers:

  1. Lisa was cold _____ she put a jacket on. (so)
  2. Laura tried to study Arabic _____ it was too hard. (but)
  3. I bought us both some coffee ______ we can sit and drink together. (so)
  4. To get to Riyadh from Jeddah, you can fly, drive ______ take the bus. (or)
  5. Ann needed some extra money _____ she took a second job. (so)
  6. Ahmed has a piano ______ he plays really well. (and)
  7. It’s really hot every day _________ it’s the middle of summer right now. (for) – the same meaning as ‘because’
  8. I go to the library, _____ I love to read. (for)
  9. I refuse to hug people I don’t know, _____ will I kiss them. (nor)
  10. The dress was beautiful _______ expensive. (but)
  11. Do you like chocolate _______ vanilla better? (or)
  12. She was sad _____ her mum managed to make her laugh. (yet)

 

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