4 Types of Conjunctions Every Writer Should Know

Being able to identify different types of conjunctions and use them properly in a sentence is a sign of a strong writer.

Conjunctions are a part of speech that connects parts of a sentence. They could connect items in a list, dependent and independent clauses and even two full sentences combined to be one in a complex sentence. 

What many writers may not know is the English language has different types of conjunctions. To use these words well, you need to know the different types and how each conjunction joins words to make sentences more interesting. 

Exploring 4 Different Types of Conjunctions

Types of conjunctions

In English, four main types of conjunctions can show up. These parts of speech get confusing sometimes because they do not always behave in the same manner. Understanding each type will make it easier to spot and use conjunctions.

1. Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions are the most common kinds of conjunctions people think of when they think of this part of speech. The acronym FANBOYS can help you remember them. The coordinating conjunctions include:

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

How to Use Coordinating Conjunctions

These words connect words, phrases, and clauses. The following sentences show these words used properly, first to connect words:

  • Would you like chocolate, vanilla or strawberry ice cream?
  • The girls and boys cheered about the field day

These words can also connect phrases including prepositional phrases, usually of equal importance:

  • The family wanted to celebrate Christmas early so grandparents could visit.
  • Would you rather vacation on the beach or in the mountains?

Finally, these words can connect clauses. If they are independent clauses that can be a complete sentence if left alone, the connectors must have a comma.

  • We went to the late-night showing of the movie, but our friends could not join us.
  • He was late to work, for he was up so late that night.

2. Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions come in pairs. These groups of words connect parts of a sentence together. Some common correlative conjunctions include:

  • as/as
  • both/and
  • either/or
  • neither/nor
  • not only/but also

How to Use Correlative Conjunctions

correlative conjunctions need to follow what English grammar calls parallel structure. This means that the sentence elements connected are similar. Here are some right and wrong examples to show this:

  • She’s both visited Rome and Sicily. (Not parallel)
  • She’s visited both Rome and Sicily. (Parallel)
  • She’s both been to Rome and been to Sicily. (Parallel)
  • We not only enjoy hiking, but also going to movies. (Not parallel)
  • We enjoy not only hiking, but also going to movies. (Parallel)
  • We not only enjoy hiking, but also enjoy going to movies. (Parallel)

3. Subordinate Conjunctions

Subordinate conjunctions turn a clause that could potentially be independent into a dependent clause. The most common subordinate conjunctions include:

  • Although
  • Because
  • Before
  • If
  • Lest
  • Once
  • Only
  • Since
  • Unless 
  • When
  • While

How to Use Subordinate Conjunctions

Subordinate conjunctions sit at the front of a clause. If the clause starts the sentence, then it has to connect to the rest of the sentence using a comma and conjunction. If it ends the sentence, then it does not require a comma or semicolon.

Here are some example sentences:

  • Because we went to the movie, we overslept the next day.
  • We overslept the next day because we went to the movie
  • The little girl was excited since it was Christmas morning.
  • While she was sleeping, her dad placed presents under the tree.

4. Conjunctive Adverbs

This connector is an adverb that acts as a conjunction in the sentence

The final type of conjunction is a conjunctive adverb. This connector is an adverb that acts as a conjunction in the sentence. They can confuse new English learners because they double up in the sentence. 

Here are some common conjunctive adverbs:

  • Finally
  • After all
  • Besides
  • However
  • Therefore
  • Nevertheless
  • Then
  • However

How to Use Conjunctive Adverbs

When used in a sentence, conjunctive adverbs require a semicolon or period before the word and a comma after. Here are some example sentences:

  • She was a strong student; however, she rarely studied.
  • Johnathan loved to swim. Therefore, he was almost always by the lake in the summer.
  • I never eat vegetables. After all, you only live once, so you might as well enjoy it!

A Final Word on Types of Conjunctions

Conjunctions play an important role in English grammar. They keep sentence fragments from floating around on their own, allow writers to connect series of words, and allow connected ideas to take the same place in the sentence.

The four types of conjunctions all play a similar role, Whether you are using coordinating, subordinate, correlative, or conjunctive adverb conjunctions, they will perform the job of connecting words or phrases in the sentence.

Yet they do have some rules to follow to use them well. Proper placement of punctuation is necessary to avoid grammar mistakes. Knowing the four types of conjunctions will help you understand how to use them in different parts of the sentence, so your writing is grammatically correct.

FAQs on Types of Conjunctions

What are the 4 types of conjunctions?

The four types of conjunctions include:
1. Coordinating conjunctions
2. Subordinate conjunctions
3. Correlative conjunctions
4. Conjunctive adverbs

What are the 7 conjunctions?

Though there are more than seven conjunctions, the coordinating conjunctions include just seven words. These are:
1. For
2. And
3. Nor
4. But
5. Or
6. Yet
7. So

You can remember these words with the mnemonic FANBOYS.

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  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.