Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions are words that their main job is joining two equal grammatical notions together. Here, we will discuss them more thoroughly.

"Coordinating Conjunctions" in English Grammar

What Are Coordinating Conjunctions?

Coordinating conjunctions are words that are used to join two or more words, phrases, or clauses within a sentence that are of equal importance and grammatical structure.

Coordinating Conjunctions in English

In English, we have seven coordinating conjunctions. You can see them in the list below:

Coordinating Conjunctions: Functions

We can use coordinating conjunctions to join different parts of a sentence. To be more precise, we can use them to join:

Coordinating Conjunctions Joining Words and Phrases

As previously mentioned, coordinating conjunctions can be used to join phrases together. There are different types of phrases, and we can use different coordinating conjunctions to join them. For example:

The officer was talking to a crying woman and a suspicious man.

two noun phrases

The question was completely clear but quite hard.

two adjective phrases

The fans showed up to support the team and cheer them up.

two adverb phrases

We can make or order a pizza.

two verb phrases

Keep in mind that coordinating conjunctions can join single words as well as phrases and clauses. They can join verbs, adjectives, nouns, adverbs, pronouns, and prepositions. Look at the examples:

Neither he nor I can dance.

two pronouns

Can he text and drive?

two verbs

We have flights to and from Madrid.

two prepositions

The queen was a beautiful but cruel woman.

two adjectives

The bird is singing happily and loudly.

two adverbs

Tip!

When you join two nouns and use an adjective and a determiner to modify them, be careful about the position of the adjective and the determiner, as it can change the meaning of the sentence. Compare the examples:

Put on your black hat and jacket.

both the 'hat' and the 'jacket' is black.

Put on your black hat and your jacket.

The hat is black, but not the jacket.

Put on your black hat and the jacket.

The hat is black, but not the jacket.

Put on your black hat and the red jacket.

It is clear that the ‘hat’ is black and the ‘jacket’ is red.

Now, let us learn more about English coordinating conjunctions that we can use to join words and phrases.

And

'And' adds a word or phrase to another. Look at the sentences:

I had some bread and butter for breakfast.

Mike and I are dating.

He could win the race slowly and steadily.

Tip!

When creating a list, it is common to use the coordinating conjunction 'and' before the final item, preceded by a comma. However, in some styles of writing, the comma before the coordinating conjunction is optional. Look at the example:

My favorite meal consists of pasta, hot dogs, soup, salad (,) and a glass of cola.

But

'But' as a coordinating conjunction is used to show contrast between two words or phrases of equal importance. Let us see some examples:

The princess has a beautiful face but a cruel heart.

He is fast but careless.

Tip!

You can join more than two words or phrases using coordinating conjunctions. For example:

The exam was completely clear and perfectly understandable but quite hard.

three adjective phrases

The officer was talking to a crying woman, a suspicious man, and a nervous kid.

three noun phrases

Nor

'Nor' is a coordinating conjunction that is used to join two negative ideas together in a sentence. It is typically used after the first negative idea to introduce the second negative idea. For example:

Neither meat nor vegetable is good for her health.

Death spares neither small nor great.

He never forgives nor forgets her.

using 'and' as a coordinating conjunction

Or

'Or' is used to express another alternative or a choice. It can be used between two words with the same part of speech as well as two phrases. Look at the examples:

Are you guys having a boy or a girl?

Would you rather read the book or watch the movie adaptation?

Yet

'Yet' is used to introduce a contrasting idea to something that has already been mentioned in a sentence. It indicates an unexpected or surprising result or outcome. Look at the sentences below:

The food is bad-smelling yet delicious.

She is a smart yet irrational girl.

Coordinating Conjunctions Joining Clauses

We can use coordinating conjunctions to join independent clauses. When two independent clauses are joined by a coordinating conjunction, we need to put a comma before the conjunction. But if the independent clauses are short it is not necessary to use a comma. Compare the examples:

Alex wants to travel to Germany, so he's studying German.

Willy is scared so he can't pet the llama.

Now let us discuss English coordinating conjunctions that can be used to join two clauses:

And

'And' can be used to join two independent clauses. It is used when you want to add or link two complete thoughts that are related to each other. Look at the example:

Sleep now and I will buy you a present.

But

'But' can be used to join two independent clauses and show contrast between them. Look at the example:

I like chocolate ice cream, but Alice likes vanilla ice cream.

Nor

'Nor' is used to connect two negative ideas in a sentence, typically in the second clause, and indicates that neither of the negative ideas is true or applicable. Look at the sentence below:

He didn't take the kids to the zoo, nor did he buy them ice cream.

Or

'Or' can be used to link two alternatives expressed by two independent clauses. Look at the example:

Leave now or you will miss the bus.

Yet

'Yet' is used to introduce a contrasting idea to something that has already been mentioned in a sentence. It indicates an unexpected or surprising result or outcome. It can be used to mean 'but' or 'nevertheless'. Look at the sentences below:

It's a weird-looking dish, yet it's delicious.

I really want a cola, yet my doctor says I cannot have any.

So

We can only use 'so' to join independent clauses, not phrases. It indicates a cause-and-effect relationship between the two clauses. Let us see some examples:

They were out of coffee, so they decided to buy some.

For

'For' is not commonly used in modern English and is considered somewhat old-fashioned or literary. It is typically used to explain or provide a reason or purpose for something. When used to join two independent clauses, it is synonymous with 'because'. It is important to note that 'for' can only be used to join independent clauses, not phrases or individual words. Pay attention to the examples:

I love taking long walks, for it is refreshing and good for my health.

Forget about the past, for what's done is done.

Using Coordinating Conjunction to Join Dependent Clauses

It is also possible to use coordinating conjunctions to join two or more dependent clauses. These clauses can be noun clauses, adjective clauses, or adverb clauses. Let us see some examples:

Unless you try hard and study every day, you cannot pass the exam.

adverb clauses

The man who killed his mother and robbed their house is now in jail.

adjective clauses

To text on the phone and drive carelessly can be dangerous.

verb clauses

Talking to her friends and sharing her sorrow was a big help.

noun clauses

Review

Coordinating conjunctions are used to connect two or more words, phrases, or clauses. There are 7 coordinating Conjunctions in English. All of them can be used to join clauses. Check out the table below to learn which coordinating conjunctions can be used with words and phrases.

Coordinating Conjunctions
Words and, but, yet, or, nor
Phrases and, but, yet, or, nor
Clauses and, but, yet, or, nor, so, for

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