Parts of speech: Conjunction


Since preposition connects nouns to pronoun similarly conjunction are the words that connect two or more clauses.

Examples (italicized and underlined words are conjunctions)
  • He is coming and I shall go now to collect him.
  • They expect me there by now but I can’t go.
  • Alice is busy whereas there are other jobs equally important.
  • He is thinking whether to do it or not.
  • He must tell the truth or he shall be expelled.

Conjunction also joins two words together, like,

Amelia and Rebecca are on the way to college.

Conjunctions are different from demonstratives or relative pronouns (this, that, those, these) and relative adverbs (where etc).

Conjunctions in pairs

Some conjunctions are used in pairs, like;

  • Either you go or I shall call the police. (either – or)
  • Neither he nor Allen is interested in this job. (neither – nor)
  • I can’t understand whether he will come or not. (whether – or)
  • Not only he accepted the offer but also called you immediately. (not only – but also)

Kinds of conjunction

There are TWO types of conjunctions;

  1. Coordinator
  2. Subordinator
  1. Coordinators are those type of conjunctions which join two independent clauses, like;
  • He knew there was a trap and he avoided going there.
  • Its heavy rain today so I cannot go anywhere.
  • There  was a big wave of earthquake yet he managed to come out of the building.
  • College was closed today and I went to see my friend in hospital.

Note: you might have observed that in all the four above examples on either side of conjunction (coordinator) the clauses give complete meaning without the help of second clause, hence they are independent clauses, for example, in first sentence “He knew there was a trap” and  “he avoided going there” are both independent clauses. Similarly in the second sentence “Its heavy rain today” and “I cannot go anywhere” and so on.

  1. Subordinators, as the name indicates, are those type of conjunctions which join independent clause (main clause) to dependent clause (subordinate clause), like;
  • I thought if he could face the circumstances.
  • Don’t run lest you fall.
  • Lecture was over as soon as I reached.
  • Stay here until I come.
  • He understood before anyone else could.

Now you have observed that underlined and italicized words are subordinators and they join  subordinate clause to main or independent clause. If you take the first example you see that “I thought” don’t give complete meaning. You at once think “What I thought?” There is question mark in your mind and that is what we call no complete meaning. When you read the second clause “he could face the circumstances.” there is no question in your mind because the meaning it gives is complete.

What is clause

Clause is the combination of words which sometimes gives complete meaning, like sentence, and sometimes not. The clause which gives complete meanings is called independent or main clause otherwise it is subordinate or dependent clause (consider above examples of coordinator and subordinator). Main clause is different from sentence in a way that sentence has full stops [.] at both ends whereas clause has comma, conjunction or relative pronoun at either side and hence it is the part of a sentence.

Examples of sentence
  • He is expected to come at 12 o’clock today.
  • Thomas More denied the charges.
Examples of clause
  • He thought that I was there. (he thought +  I was there = two clauses)
  • I asked him whether he could help me. (I asked him + he could help me = two clauses)
  • He advised me to come on time. (He advised me + come on time = two clauses)
  • She said, “what are you doing here?” (She said + what are you doing here = two clauses)

Kinds of sentence with respect to clauses

Kind of sentence is determined by the number of clauses and they are as follows;

Note: Red colour is used for dependent clause and blue for independent clause.

  • Simple sentence: one clause.
    Example: He was watching you.
  • Complex sentence: one independent and one dependent clause.
    Example: He asked whether I should help him.
  • Compound sentence: two independent clauses.
    Example: It was dangerous to go outside so I preferred staying inside.
  • Complex compound sentence: two independent and one dependent clause.
    Example: I shall teach you and you must listen to me carefully because it’s important.
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