Conjunctions

Conjunctions

A conjunction is a word that "joins". A conjunction joins two parts of a sentence.
Here are some example conjunctions:
Coordinating Conjunctions Subordinating Conjunctions
and, but, or, nor, for, yet, so although, because, since, unless
We can consider conjunctions from three aspects.

Form

Conjunctions have three basic forms:
  • Single Word
    for example: and, but, because, although
  • Compound (often ending with as or that)
    for example: provided that, as long as, in order that
  • Correlative (surrounding an adverb or adjective)
    for example: so...that

Function

Conjunctions have two basic functions or "jobs":
  • Coordinating conjunctions are used to join two parts of a sentence that are grammatically equal. The two parts may be single words or clauses, for example:
    - Jack and Jill went up the hill.
    - The water was warm, but I didn't go swimming.
  • Subordinating conjunctions are used to join a subordinate dependent clause to a main clause, for example:
    - I went swimming although it was cold.

Position

  • Coordinating conjunctions always come between the words or clauses that they join.
  • Subordinating conjunctions usually come at the beginning of the subordinate clause.
In this lesson we will look in more detail at:

Coordinating Conjunctions

The short, simple conjunctions are called "coordinating conjunctions":
  • and, but, or, nor, for, yet, so
A coordinating conjunction joins parts of a sentence (for example words or independent clauses) that are grammatically equal or similar. A coordinating conjunction shows that the elements it joins are similar in importance and structure:
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Look at these examples - the two elements that the coordinating conjunction joins are shown in square brackets [ ]:
  • I like [tea] and [coffee].
  • [Ram likes tea], but [Anthony likes coffee].
Coordinating conjunctions always come between the words or clauses that they join.
When a coordinating conjunction joins independent clauses, it is always correct to place a comma before the conjunction:
  • I want to work as an interpreter in the future, so I am studying Russian at university.
However, if the independent clauses are short and well-balanced, a comma is not really essential:
  • She is kind so she helps people.
When "and" is used with the last word of a list, a comma is optional:
  • He drinks beer, whisky, wine, and rum.
  • He drinks beer, whisky, wine and rum.

Subordinating Conjunctions

The majority of conjunctions are "subordinating conjunctions". Common subordinating conjunctions are:
  • after, although, as, because, before, how, if, once, since, than, that, though, till, until, when, where, whether, while
A subordinating conjunction joins a subordinate (dependent) clause to a main (independent) clause:
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Look at this example:
main or
independent clause
subordinate or
dependent clause
Ram went swimming although it was raining.

subordinating
conjunction
 
 
A subordinate or dependent clause "depends" on a main or independent clause. It cannot exist alone. Imagine that somebody says to you: "Hello! Although it was raining." What do you understand? Nothing! But a main or independent clause can exist alone. You will understand very well if somebody says to you: "Hello! Ram went swimming."
A subordinating conjunction always comes at the beginning of a subordinate clause. It "introduces" a subordinate clause. However, a subordinate clause can sometimes come after and sometimes before a main clause. Thus, two structures are possible:
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Ram went swimming although it was raining.
 
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Although it was raining, Ram went swimming.

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