Parts of Speech: Conjunctions: The Ties That Bind

Conjunctions: The Ties That Bind

Conjunctions connect words or groups of words and show how they are related. There are three kinds of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions, and subordinating conjunctions. Let's look at each one.

  1. Coordinating conjunctions link words or word groups. Here are the seven coordinating conjunctions:
    • for
    • and
    • but
    • or
    • yet
    • so
    • nor
    • And now for some examples:
    • Eat one live toad the first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
    • Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and taste good with ketchup.
You Could Look It Up

Conjunctions connect words or groups of words and show how they are related.

Quoth the Maven

Use this mnemonic to help you remember the seven coordinating conjunctions: FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).

All Tied Up

Underline the coordinating conjunctions in each sentence.

  1. There are two kinds of air travel in the United States: first class and with children.
  2. Almost certainly not Oscar Wilde's last words: “Either this wallpaper goes or I do.”
  3. Winston Churchill said, “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.”
  4. The only reason I intend to take up jogging is so that I can hear heavy breathing again.
  5. It's lonely at the top, but you eat better there.


  1. and
  2. or
  3. for
  4. so
  5. but
  • 2. Correlative conjunctions also link similar words or word groups, but they are always used in pairs. Here are the correlative conjunctions:
  • both … and
  • either … or
  • neither … nor
  • not only … but also
  • whether … or
  • Some examples:
  • He lost both his shirt and his pants.
  • Either you come with us now, or you will miss the boat.
  • 3. Subordinate conjunctions link an independent clause (a complete sentence) to a dependent clause (a fragment). There are only seven coordinating conjunctions and five correlative conjunctions, but you have more subordinating conjunctions than Custer had Native Americans. Here are the most often used subordinating conjunctions:
  • after
  • as long as
  • although
  • as soon as
  • as
  • as though
  • as if
  • because
  • before
  • till
  • even though
  • unless
  • if
  • until
  • in order that
  • when
  • since
  • whenever
  • so, so that
  • where
  • though
  • wherever
  • And a few examples culled from actual insurance forms:
  • The guy was all over the road so I had to swerve a couple of times before I finally hit him.
  • I had been driving for 40 years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.

Fit to Be Tied

Underline the conjunctions in each sentence.

  1. Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.
  2. Don't be irreplaceable—if you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.
  3. After any salary raise, you will have less money at the end of the month than you did before.
  4. When you don't know what to do, walk fast and look worried.
  5. You can go anywhere you want if you look serious and carry a clipboard.
  6. As I told you, work with me, baby.
  7. Since my car is costlier, newer, and flashier than yours, I have the right-of-way.
  8. No sense being pessimistic because it probably wouldn't work anyway
  9. Unless you have a doctor's note, it is illegal to buy ice cream after 6 P.M. in Newark, New Jersey.
  10. When confronted by a difficult problem, you can solve it more easily by reducing it to the question, “How would the Lone Ranger handle this?”
1. then 6. as
2. if7. since
3. after8. because
4. when9. unless
5. if10. when
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Style © 2003 by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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