Coordinating Conjunctions

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

Intermediate
"Coordinating Conjunctions" in English Grammar

What Are Coordinating Conjunctions?

A coordinating conjunction joins two parts of a sentence that are grammatically similar, like two nouns or independent clauses that are grammatically similar. Coordinating conjunctions always come between the words or clauses that they join.

Coordinating Conjunctions in English

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

  1. And
  2. Or
  3. Nor
  4. For
  5. But
  6. Yet
  7. So

How to use Coordinating Conjunctions?

It is important to know that we can use coordinating conjunctions to join different parts of a sentence. To be more precise, we can use them to join:

Coordinating Conjunctions with Words and Phrases

As we mentioned before, we can use coordinating conjunctions to join phrases. You may know that we have 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 him 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

Rules to know:

1. 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. Look at 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.

2. When you want to make a list, before the last item you use the coordinating conjunction 'and', then you put a comma before it. In some styles of writing, putting the comma is optional. Look at the example:

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

3. As you can see in the sentences above, you can join more than two words or phrases using coordinating conjunctions. For example:

The dish 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

I ordered a pizza, a salad, and a cola.

three nouns

Coordinating Conjunctions to Join Words and Phrases in English

Let us learn more about the coordinating conjunctions that we can use to join words and phrases.

And

'And' adds two or more phrases together. 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.

But

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

The princess has a beautiful face but a cruel heart.

She is beautiful but cruel.

Nor

'Nor' introduces a second negative idea to join a negative idea before it. 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 of 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' represents an idea that is contrasting to another idea that is already mentioned. Look at the sentences below:

The food is bad-smelling yet delicious.

She is a smart yet irrational girl.

Coordinating Conjunctions with Clauses

We can use coordinating conjunctions to join dependent clauses.

Rules to know:

1. When two independent clauses (clauses that can stand alone as complete sentences) are joined by a coordinating conjunction, we need to put a comma before the conjunction. For example:

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

2. But if the independent clauses are short it is not necessary to put a comma. For example:

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

Coordinating Conjunctions to Join Clauses in English

And

'And' can be used to join two independent clauses. Look at the example:

Sleep now and I will buy you a present.

But

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

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

Nor

'Nor' introduces a second negative idea to join a negative idea in the first clause. 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' shows contrast and means 'but' or 'nevertheless'. It presents an idea that is contrasting to an idea that is already mentioned. 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. Let us see some examples:

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

For

'For' as a conjunction is not used very often in modern English. It is considered old-fashioned or literary. Normally with two independent clauses, it is synonymous with 'because' and explains a reason or purpose. Remember that we can only use 'for' to join clauses, not phrases or 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.

noun 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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