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  • Writer's pictureKat Taylor

The power of conjunctions: how to use them effectively and debunking common misconceptions


Text reads: And breathe. An example of when it is ok to start a sentence with a conjunction

A conjunction is a part of speech that connects words, phrases, or clauses in a sentence. It serves to link different parts of a sentence together to show the relationship between them, allowing you to form complex sentences that link and flow naturally. Without conjunctions, sentences would become clunky and overly wordy, like in the example below:


"I like ice cream. I like cake. I don't like doing the dishes after eating ice cream and cake."


A better way to say it would be,


"I like eating cake and ice cream, but I don't like doing the dishes afterwards!"



Types of conjunctions


There are three main types of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and correlative conjunctions.


1. Coordinating Conjunctions:


Coordinating conjunctions are used to connect words, phrases, or clauses that are of equal importance in a sentence. Some common coordinating conjunctions include and, but, or, nor, for, so, and yet. For example:


- I like to read books and watch movies.


- She wanted to go to the park, but it started raining.


- You can have cake or ice cream for dessert.


2. Subordinating Conjunctions:


Subordinating conjunctions are used to connect an independent clause (a complete sentence) with a dependent clause (an incomplete sentence). These conjunctions show the relationship between the two clauses, such as cause and effect, time, condition, or contrast. Some common subordinating conjunctions include because, although, while, if, since, and unless. For example:


- I will go to the beach if the weather is nice.


- She studied hard because she wanted to pass the exam.


- Although it was raining, they decided to go for a walk.



3. Correlative Conjunctions:


Correlative conjunctions are pairs of conjunctions that work together to connect words, phrases, or clauses in a sentence. Some common correlative conjunctions include either...or, neither...nor, both...and, not only...but also, and whether...or. For example:


- You can either eat pizza or pasta for dinner.


- She is both intelligent and hardworking.


- Not only did he finish his homework, but he also cleaned his room.



How to use conjunctions in a sentence


To use conjunctions in a sentence, you simply need to identify the parts of the sentence you want to connect and choose the appropriate conjunction based on the relationship you want to convey. Remember to use commas when necessary, especially with coordinating conjunctions that connect independent clauses.



Starting a sentence with a conjunction


Many of us were taught in school that you must never start a sentence with a conjunction. In fact, schools are still teaching this now - my own daughter preaches, "Mummy, you can't start a sentence with and!" But (see what I did there?), that rule is a myth, or at least a misconception. As shown above, you can start a sentence with a subordinating conjunction such as although if the dependent clause comes before the independent clause, but it is also okay to begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction like and or but; it can be a great device to add emphasis—just don't overuse it!


"Have a great holiday! And don't forget to send me a postcard!"



In conclusion, conjunctions play a crucial role in connecting different parts of a sentence and creating meaningful relationships between them. By understanding the different types of conjunctions and how to use them effectively, you can improve the clarity and coherence of your writing.



 

I hope you've found this series helpful, but if you still don't know your adjectives from your elbow, a professional proofreader like me can help polish your prose and make sure your writing is the best it can be. Get in touch today to see how I can help.

 


Photo by Valeriia Bugaiova on Unsplash


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