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Subordinating Conjunctions

A subordinating conjunction joins a subordinate clause or dependent to a main independent clause. A main or independent clause is such a clause which can stand on its own. A subordinate clause is a clause which cannot stand on its own and always depends on the main clause. Subordinating conjunctions are conjunctions that help join a main clause with a subordinate clause. The main clause is the independent clause whereas the subordinate clause is the dependent clause. Some sentences that are joined by subordinating conjunctions are quite difficult to understand.  The subordinating conjunctions play two important roles.

  • I painted the house because it was a horrible color.
  • Call me after you arrive at work.
  • Let me show you how to dance.
  • Adrian wasn’t sure whether to go to Maldives or Thailand.
  • My sister is older than I am.
  • Since you’ve studied so well, you can go and play.


List of Subordinating Conjunctions

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List of subordinating conjunctions:

             if                           as                      because                  rather than                  in order that          
 before   after   even if  until  provided that 
 once  although   even though   where  when
 since  than  though  whereas  Whether / or not 
 so that   that  unless  whenever  while
 wherever   why  as soon as  by the time  in case

The subordinate conjunction provides a necessary transition between the two ideas in the sentence. This transition will indicate a place, time or reason and effect relationship. Most subordinating conjunctions are single words. However, some subordinating conjunctions consist of more than one word. It serves as a transition word and helps connect two concepts in the whole sentence. The transition can show us a time, cause and effect relationship or place. You will find a subordinating conjunction at the beginning of a subordinate clause.

In order to make the readers understand or decide which clause is more important in the sentence, subordinating conjunctions lessen the importance of one clause. The ideas that are most important are placed in the main clause while the less important ideas come in the second part of the sentence followed by subordinating conjunctions.

                                   Subordinating Conjunctions                                                                Used                             
 because, so that, as, since  to express cause or reason 
 although, even though, whereas   to express contrast or concession 
 unless, if, even if, in case, providing   to express condition
 before, after, until / till, when, as soon as, whenever, while   to express time

  • As he fought with the mafias on the street, he injured himself.
  • Pamela begins to sneeze viciously every morning whenever she wakes up from bed.
In the example, note that: He injured himself is more important than the first part of ‘As he found with the mafias on the street.’

Similarly, in the other sentences, the sentences without the subordinating conjunctions are more important than the sentences followed by the subordinating conjunctions.

Two structures of subordinating conjunctions are:
  • Linda failed the exam, because she did not study.
  • Because she did not study, Linda failed the exam.

Use of “That” in a Subordinating Conjunction
In order to join a subordinate clause to a preceding verb, that is used in the sentence. In such a structure, ‘that’ is known as an expletive ‘that.’ But one thing that needs to be noted is the sentences remain the same even if we omit ‘that’ in the sentence.

  • I heard (that) my sister is going to visit us this winter.
  • I heard my sister is going to visit this winter.
The sentence continues to mean the same whether ‘that’ is kept or omitted.

Examples of Subordinating Conjunctions

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Examples of Subordinating Conjunctions:
  1. After dinner, we’ll go see a movie.
  2. If you find out, please let us know.
  3. As you know, he’s rather eccentric.
  4. When we’re done, let’s get some ice cream.
  5. Whether or not you agree, I think it looks fine.
  6. So that I’m sure I understand you, please repeat what you just said.
  7. While I’m there, I play music on a jukebox.
  8. In case you hadn’t heard, I couldn’t care less.
  9. Though I’m flexible, I draw the line about that.
  10. Even though I’d heard the song before, I hadn’t known who sang it.
  11. Before I saw the house, I was ready to just rent an apartment.
  12. Ever since I met her, I haven’t been able to think about anything else.
  13. Unless you’re willing to wait, you’ll have to come back tomorrow.
  14. So sure were you of your theory about them, you ignored evidence that you were wrong.
  15. Did he say anything before he left?
  16. The baby gets very grumpy whenever he’s tired.
  17. Even if you win a million dollars, it doesn’t mean you’ll be happy.

Highlight the Subordinating Conjunctions in the below mentioned sentences:
  • Even if you are late, please attend the seminar.
  • We cannot send the mail unless he sends us the report.
  • Until you are 18 years old, you should stay with your parents.
  • I don’t know whether the auditors will visit today or not.
  • My car will drop you in the office so that you can reach on time.
  • My daughter perfectly dressed herself up while I slept.
  • Jill came tumbling after Jack had fallen.
  • Although it was raining very hard, Amelia went out to meet her friends.
  • We went to the bar where there most shade
  • John is short, whereas Ben is tall.
  • I lost my job because I was often late.
  • Because it was raining, I took my umbrella.
  • He is happy because he won the first prize in the race.

Complete using the appropriate Subordinating Conjunctions in the sentences:
  1. Nick went swimming ____ it was raining.
  2. I missed my school bus ____ talking to my friend.
  3. ____ it rains hard this monsoon, the farmers cannot cultivate the lands.
  4. ____ long as Sachin Tendulkar is batting, we have high hopes of winning the match.
  5. I will meet you today ____ it does not rain.
  6. We have to reach the station ____ the train leaves.
  7. She will finish her homework ____ the birthday party is over.
  8. The teacher asked Mark to attend extra classes ____ he could not attend the regular ones.
  9. The Silver Oak Restaurant is doing a very good business this summer, ____ the restaurant called ‘Wasabi’ just adjacent to it is losing business as it is not able to meet the customers’ expectations.
  10. Come and visit me ____ you leave.
  11. ____ the sky is falling down, you’ll be my only
  12. ____ calling several times, he never received a reply.
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