Subordinating conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions are words and phrases that link dependent clauses with independent clauses. Such words or phrases show how dependent clauses add further information to the independent clause it is attached to. Sentences with an independent clause and at least one dependent clause are called complex sentences.

Master how subordinating conjunctions function and you will be producing complex sentences in no time!

Most commonly used subordinating conjunctions list:

  • after
  • as
  • as soon as
  • because
  • before
  • by the time
  • even if
  • even though
  • every time
  • if
  • in case
  • now that
  • once
  • since
  • so that
  • then
  • the first time
  • unless
  • until
  • when
  • whenever
  • whether or not
  • while
  • why

This might look like a daunting list but these words/phrases can be roughly grouped into 3 groups according to:

  • those showing cause and effect
  • those showing significance of time and place
  • those showing a condition

Some fit into more than one group. Try and put the items on the list into 3 groups.


Insert the correct subordinating conjunction in the gaps

  1. The costly clean-up couldn’t begin _________ the storm had completely passed. (even if, although, after, until)
  2. I don’t like going on holiday too often ____________ my cats feel abandoned. (so that, while, until, in case)
  3. ____________ I open a cupboard, my cats come charging into the kitchen expectantly and excitedly. (the first time, so that, even though, as soon as)
  4. ____________ I do go away, I make sure someone responsible stays with my cats. (because, unless, whenever, as long as)

Commas? – Numbers 3/4 above have commas in the middle separating the independent and dependent clauses because these sentences start with a coordinating conjunction. The first two do not have commas because the coordinating conjunction is in the middle.

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