Conjunctions are words that are parts of speech that are vital in making the English language readable. If there were no conjunctions, you would read text something like this:
"Jack went up the hill."
"Jill went up the hill."
Now read the sentence: "Jack AND Jill went up the hill."
The word, AND, that joins the two sentences into one larger sentence is known as a conjunction. Conjunctions are joining words that join two words or two phrases or two clauses. There are three types of conjunctions - coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions and correlative conjunctions.
Coordinating conjunctions are single word conjunctions and there are only seven of these. They are: FOR, AND, NOR, BUT, OR, YET and SO. The primary function of these conjunctions is to join two words or two phrases or two independent clauses.
Subordinating conjunctions are conjunctions that join an independent clause with a dependent clause. For instance, ‘I went swimming’ and ‘it was cold’ can be joined to make the sentence ‘I Went swimming ALTHOUGH it was cold.’ The word ALTHOUGH is the subordinating conjunction.
Correlative conjunctions are conjunctions similar to coordinating conjunctions that join clauses that are similar. Correlative conjunctions come in pairs and they are few in number. For instance, ‘NEITHER my sister NOR my brother is right-handed’ and ‘BOTH my sister AND brother are left-handed’ are sentences that use the correlative conjunctions NEITHER…NOR and BOTH…AND.
Coordinating and correlative conjunctions are generally categorised into conjunctions of addition/negative addition, contrast, alternative and inferential. Conjunctions of addition just add without any qualification. Conjunctions of contrast help to show contrast. Alternative conjunctions help to choose between two alternatives. Inferential conjunctions help to draw inferences. Conjunctions have a way of being used in many different situations. Take the quiz that follows and learn the various conjunctions that light up our language.