Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions help us connect different ideas expressed via our sentences so our overall writing flows smoothly from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph. There are 7 coordinating conjunctions in the English language:

  • for – I buy meaty treats at weekends for the looks on my cats’ faces as they devour them. (for is a bit like because)
  • and – I care for several house cats, and I feed a few neighbourhood strays. (simply adds one idea to another)
  • nor – Bellamy refuses to eat tinned cat food nor does he enjoy packet food. (joins two negative ideas)
  • but – Having lots of cats is great fun but also a distraction at times. (shows how two ideas contrast with each other)
  • or – I wonder would the cats like chicken today or maybe they’d prefer fish? (expresses alternative choices)
  • yet – I’ve bought countless toy mice, yet my cats get so easily bored. (quite like but)
  • so – My cats have all their immunization shots, so they are always healthy and happy. (expresses a result)

As you can see from the examples above, most are very straightforward to use in writing. I would say the only one that is perhaps a little limiting is nor because it presents a negative idea that connects to another already expressed negative idea (see my example). Here’s another example for nor: I haven’t seen nor heard from him in several months. Just remember the formula (nor = negative + negative).

Did you notice in the last example (underlined) I didn’t use a comma as I did in some of the ones at the beginning? Well the reason for that is the two ‘halves’ of that underlined sentence are not both independent clauses, only one is. Independent clauses can stand alone as complete and finished units of language (sentences), however, dependent clauses cannot. So ‘I haven’t seen‘ would not make sense by itself and must depend upon the second part ‘nor heard from him for several months‘ in order to make complete sense. Look at the ones I wrote earlier and see which consist of two independent clauses and which include dependent clauses.

One last thing, some say it is incorrect to begin sentences with coordinating conjunctions however, this is not an unbreakable grammar rule. I just started a sentence with a coordinating conjunction in the previous paragraph. Can you see it?

Coordinating conjunctions are the easiest of all the conjunctions to learn and spending a little time doing so will certainly improve your writing. 🙂

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