The Conjunction


A conjunction is a word that joins words, phrases and sentences.


 Two and two make four.
  Neither George nor his friend is present today.
 She bought a red pen and a blue pencil.
 You can go either by bus or by train.
 He will be in the library or in the garden.
 Work hard or you will fail.
 The train comes at 2 o’clock and it leaves an hour later.

In these sentences the words in the italics are joining words.
In the first sentence the conjunction and joins two nouns, two and two. In the third sentence , and joins two noun phrases, a red pen and a blue pencil.In the last sentence the conjunction and joins two sentences, The train comes at 2 o’clock and it leaves an hour later. Thus a conjunction may join words, phrases and sentences.

Kinds of Conjunctions:

a) Coordinating conjunctions.


I have purchased a new table and a few chairs.
He is strong and healthy.
Write your answer neatly and briefly.
His speech was long but interesting.
The manager as well as his assistant was absent.
She may go today or tomorrow.
I received a letter from him a week ago but I have not replied to it yet.

The words italicized in these sentences are all coordinating conjunctions. In the first sentence and joins two noun phrases, a new table and a few chairs. In the second sentence it joins two adjectives, strong and healthy. In the third sentence it connects two adverbs, neatly and briefly. In sentence seven the conjunction but joins two main clauses. These clauses are of equal rank and are called coordinate clauses. Such conjunctions are called coordinating conjunctions. Briefly then, coordinating conjunctions join two words, phrases or clauses of same grammatical class.

Some coordinating conjunctions:

and      for        only        but     still      or     yet        nor   so   otherwise

Neither…..nor    Either………or    Both…and         not only …but also.

b) Subordinating conjunctions: Subordinating conjunctions are used to join the main clause and a subordinate clause. These conjunctions are placed at the head of the subordinate clause.


 He told me that he had got a good job.
 I don’t know where he has kept it.
Father asked me why I was so late.
He came when the party was over.
A poet reaches where no one else can reach.

The italicized words in the sentences given above introduce subordinate clauses and are therefore known as subordinate conjunctions.

Some subordinating conjunctions:

That,    whenever,    until,    unless,  when,    while,    till,   though,
Where,    as,    wherever,    although,     why,    before,    because,  than,    how,    after,    in order that,   if,    so that,     since,    lest,  whether,      even if,      scarcely…..when,         though…..yet,  as soon as,    no sooner …….than,      as if,         as long as,  as much as,    as though,       in case  .


c) Sentence connectives.

Look at the following examples:
  1. We were getting late. So we decided to take a taxi.
  2. It’s dark and you can’t go out. Moreover, it is raining.
In these examples so and moreover have been used to join sentences. In the first example So refers to the effect of being late. In the second, moreover is used to say something additional. We call such words as sentence connectives. Sentence connectives are employed to connect sentences or ideas in a continuous piece of writing.

Some other sentence connectives:

Otherwise,        as such,     but,     accordingly,      in spite of,  besides,  on the  contrary,       on the other hand,  for example,     similarly, in addition,    nevertheless.   

Combine the sentences choosing the correct conjunction from those given here: still, otherwise, or, but, and, neither, nor, either, or, not    only…but also, both and so.

  1. We saw the fire on the top floor. We ran to put it out.
  2. We saw the fire on the top floor. We could do nothing to put it out.
  3. Take your pen. Write down what I say.
  4. I invited him to stay with us. He said no.
  5. I have always helped him. He has never thanked me.
  6. Hurry up. You will be late for the class.
  7. He has not given me the job. He has not promised to do so.
  8. The bus was half empty. It did not stop.
  9. She wants tea. I prefer coffee.
  10. He shook hands with us. He didn’t speak a word.
  11. It was very hot yesterday. It is not so hot today.
  12. He forgets what he has taken. He remembers what he has to take from others.
  13. He was beaten. He was robbed.
  14. She sings very well. She dances very well.
  15. Return the book to the library in time. You will have to pay a fine.
  16. He began drinking heavily. He lost all his wealth.
  17. You can pay your fees in cash. You can pay your fees by cheque.
  18. Zambia has become independent recently. Angola has become independent recently.
  19. We can stay in a hotel. We can stay with our friends.

Fill in the blanks with suitable subordinating conjunctions.

  1. We didn’t know …..he had already left.(that, when, until)
  2. Put out the lights….you go to sleep.(before, till, after)
  3. We went out …..the sun rose.(as long as, while, as soon as)
  4. Children were playing …the parents were quarrelling.(when, till, while)
  5. The agitation continued…… the leader were arrested.( when before, till)
  6. The agitation continued even…… the leader were arrested.( when after, till)
  7. He was turned out…..he had spoken rudely to the teacher.(because, when, though)
  8. We have not heard from him….he left the town. (when, because, since)
  9. Her parents can’t find a match for her…she is very tall.(as, though. So that)
  10. Search for your purse….you dropped it.(wherever, when, where)
  11. There is no reason….you should resign your job.(why, since, when)
  12. Give the boy some tonic….he recovers quickly. (such that, so that, in case)
  13. Keep my telephone number….you need it.(so that, in order that, in case)
  14. He behaved in ….a manner …. I felt insulted.(so…that, such…that, in case)
  15. Note it in your diary….you should forget it.( so that, lest. In order that)
  16. He has never come here….I have invited him many times.(because, though, since)
  17. …..did the father leave, ….the children started quarrelling again.(As soon as, no sooner…than )
  18. ….had we sat down to lunch ……our dear uncle came.(As soon as, No sooner …than, Scarcely…when)
  19. ….you have done very badly, you should get a first class.(Unless, Since, Though)
  20. …the watch does not give correct time, you may return it.( Unless, if, Though)
  21. You must move out of the house…you like it or not.(if, unless, whether)
  22. It all ended….we had expected.(since, as, though)
  23. They were not at home…we called on them. (while, since, when)
  24. Tell us ….the quarrel started.(how, until, as)

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