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A Conjunction is a word that joins two or more words, phrases and clauses together. The most common ones are and, or, and but. A conjunction is a connection; a word that connects (conjoins) parts of a sentence.

What is a conjunction?

Let’s read the examples below:
  • I will go to the market today because I have to buy a new dress.
  • I like fruit salad or omelets for breakfast.
  • Jack and Jill went up the hill.
  • Aaron baked the cake, but his friends thought it was ordered from the shop.

In sentences 1 and 4, we see that the words in bold are connecting together two sentences/ clauses, in order to highlight the relationship between them.

In sentences 2 and 3, we see that the words in bold are connecting together two interrelated words/ phrases, in order to highlight the unity between them.

From the sentences above, we can easily notice that there are some words in English Language which simply act as connecting tape to join/ link together two or more clauses/ phrases/ words which are interrelated to each other in some way. These connecting words are known as Conjunctions in English Language.


List of Conjunctions

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The following is a list of some commonly used conjunctions:

Although, because, if, nor, or, and, but, before, lest, only, as, for, neither, either, provided, that, since, though, unless, whereas, yet, while, whether etc.

Sometimes, even two or three words can be used together as a single conjunction. For instance,
  1. I bought this book from library so that I can learn more about child psychology.
  2. I will send you the invitation as soon as the date of function is decided.

When such compound expressions are used as Conjunctions, we call them Compound Conjunctions.  Some of them are enlisted here for you:

In order that, on condition that, even if, as if, provided that, as well as etc.

Rules of Conjunction

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We are already aware that conjunctions also show the relationships between the words/ phrases/ clauses they link. There are certain rules according to which these conjunctions work in order to highlight these relations between elements they join. Based on these rules, conjunctions can be divided into four main groups-

A) Co-ordinate Conjunctions:

These conjunctions join the elements of equal importance.

The rule according to which they work:

When they join two words within a sentence, the connected words are equal in importance of their function in a sentence.

  1. Alan and Ashley are best friends. (noun connected with noun)
  2. She paints and draws quite skillfully. (verb connected with verb)
  3. Emily loves reading and Aiden loves dancing. ( independent clause connected with independent clause)

Subordinate Conjunctions:

These conjunctions join the elements of differing importance. In cases that require a subordinate conjunction, one element is always a main clause (or the independent clause which can stand meaningfully on its own). The other is a subordinate clause, which depends on the main clause to make sense.

The rule according to which they work:

The subordinate conjunction can be found at the beginning of the subordinate clause, to establish latter’s relationship with the rest of the sentence. So, we must remember that the subordinate clause contains the subordinate conjunction, which binds the words of the former (the subordinate clause) with the words of the main clause.

  1. It has been years since I went for a long drive last.
  2. I wake up early in the morning so that I could study in peace.

From the examples above, we can also notice that other than performing the binding function, the subordinate conjunction also acts as a modifier to the main clause, rather than expressing the main idea.

C) Correlative Conjunctions:

These are unique conjunction combinations that are used with each other, in pairs. These pairs can be completely co-ordinate or subordinate or even an established combination of both, depending upon the situation they imply.

The rule according to which they work:

The unchanging rule about them is that they are always used in pairs. Let us find the popular ones from the sentences below:
  1. As you sow, so you shall reap.
  2. If you go to the library, then do not forget to bring me that magazine.

From the sentences above, we find that some of the correlative conjunctions that come in pairs are: As-so, if-then.

The list includes but is not limited to other combinations, such as: neither-nor, either-or, whether-or, not so much-as, not-but etc.

Conjunctive Adverbs:

When some adverbs act as a conjunction, at the same time retaining their role as an adverb, we call them conjunctive adverbs.

The rule according to which they work:

The conjunctive adverb is nothing but our very standard conjunction which can also function as an adverb. It can work on the same rules of co-ordinate or subordinate conjunctions listed above, depending on its usage which can be as either of these two, as shown in the examples below:
  1. William wanted to buy a diamond for his wife; however, his financial condition did not allow him to.(Conjunctive adverb used as a subordinate conjunction)
  2. Charles took the children to the park. Afterwards, they stopped for some evening snacks. (Conjunctive adverb used as a coordinating conjunction)

Examples of Conjunctions

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Let us quickly revise the various kinds of conjunctions with the help of the following examples:

Co-ordinate Conjunctions (joins equal clauses/phrases/words):
  • The movie is long and boring.
  • The story is short but it has a great message to convey.
Subordinate Conjunctions (joins unequal clauses):
  • I will do whatever my mentor guides me to do.
  • Charlotte will not go to bed unless we read her a story.
Correlative Conjunctions (used in pairs)
  • I wish I was as popular as they are. (as-as combination)
  • Neither Evelyn nor Hailey knows what was in the surprise gift package. (neither-nor combination)
Conjunctive Adverb (used as a conjunction as well as an adverb):
  • Please bring me the ingredients for this recipe. In the meantime, I will prepare the other dish.
  • She did not even try to find out her lost wallet. Eventually, it was found by her caretaker in the living area; however, the latter returned it.

Exercise 1

Fill the appropriate conjunctions in the blanks:
  1. Man proposes _____ God disposes.
  2. Alexis will do all right, _______he perseveres.
  3. Three _____ three make six.
  4. I will stay _______ you return.
  5. He is richer ________ I am.
  6. ___I feel any doubt, ____I will surely ask.
  7. I did not study hard this time. _____, I got a good result.
  8. Over the river ____ through the woods.
  9. Just as she loves hiking ____ she enjoys travelling as well.
Exercise 2:
Underline The Conjunctions:
  1. I cannot give you any money, for I have arranged it for a purpose.
  2. Oats and milk is wholesome food.
  3. The Earth is bigger than the Moon.
  4. Either you are correct, or I am.
  5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
  6. He goes to the college as well as to the gym during weekdays.
  7. Joey lost a fortune in the stock market, but he still seems able to live quite comfortably.
  8. He is neither sane nor brilliant.
  9. Marianne planted a flower, and she watched it grow.
  10. Not only does Jason play the lead guitar but he is also the band’s songwriter.

More topics in Conjunction
Coordinating Conjunctions Correlative Conjunctions
Subordinating Conjunctions
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