English - Conjunctions and Connectives

In the following sentences there are missing conjunctions. Put the most appropriate from the given list in the correct places.

I stood on the deck ______ it was very windy.

______ I had worked hard, I found the test easy.

a) FIRSTLY b) EVEN THOUGH c) HOWEVER d) BECAUSE e) DUE TO

In the recent past the government has decided that the word 'connectives' be replaced with the word 'conjunctions' in primary schools. Unfortunately, this means that some children have slightly more difficulty in understanding the term as 'connectives' was self-explanatory. Essentially, the terms are synonymous. There are very small differences but these are not worth bothering with and for your child's school entrance tests either could be referred to.

A connective or conjunction joins two clauses. The majority are single words although there are several which have two or three component words. Examples are 'but', 'however', 'as long as' and 'when'. Clauses containing these elements at the start will need a main clause to work with them.

In the questions above, your child needs to read through and picture the scenario. (S)he should then try and imagine an appropriate word to fit in without looking at the answer - once they have a good idea it is just a matter of finding that word (or a synonym) and reading the sentence to see if it makes total sense. If they are unable to work out a word without looking at the possible answers, go through each one at a time and see what works grammatically and whether the sentence 'feels' right. Sometimes answers make grammatical sense but don't really read right. An example would be 'BECAUSE' being used in the first sentence.

I stood on the deck BECAUSE it was very windy.

It makes sense, there is nothing technically wrong with this. However, it seems counter-intuitive to stand on the deck due to it being windy. The question asks for the most appropriate answer so we should think of the context and use a conjunction which suggests the action was taken despite the weather conditions:

I stood on the deck EVEN THOUGH it was very windy.

The second sentence suggests the test was straightforward and that I had worked hard. Again, 'EVEN THOUGH' is grammatically correct but once again, it makes a rather peculiar sentence. There seems to be no reason to tell someone that I found it easy despite the work that I had put in. The most appropriate answer is:

BECAUSE I had worked hard, I found the test easy.

Example 2

Underline the conjunctions in the following sentences.

  1. Since the ball had rolled under the scoreboard, the fielder found it very difficult to fetch it.
  2. She had taken the second one yet wondered whether it would have been better to have chosen the first.

Firstly, we need to remember that the conjunction is a word (or words) which links two elements of a sentence together. It could be in the middle of a sentence or at the beginning, but never at the end.

Let's look at the action or actions in each sentence. In the first, a ball has rolled under a scoreboard (one action) and a fielder is struggling to find it (second action). The conjunction will bring the two together in one sentence. In this case, it is the word 'Since' at the start of the sentence.

In the second sentence, the two actions are a woman taking something and the same person thinking about the decision that has been made. When you break sentences down like this, it should be relatively straightforward to spot the conjunction. In this case, it is 'yet'.

While the conjunctions in each of the sentences above were single words, ensure your child has seen a list of the different connecting words and phrases that are regularly used in English. In my classroom I would always have a few helpful lists of them and a lot of classrooms I visit have the same but there are plenty of lists online. If your child knows that phrases are sometimes used as conjunctions, they will be able to pick out the whole conjunction and not just one word which could be marked as wrong. For example, 'even though' could gain a mark whereas 'even though' would not.

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