English Grammar: Conjunctions

A Conjunction is a word which connects together sentences or words. These are also called linking words or connectors.

Correlative Conjunctions

Conjunctions which are used in pairs are called Correlative Conjunctions or Correlatives. For example,

  • Either-or: Either take it or leave it. 
  • Neither-nor: It is neither useful nor ornamental. 
  • Both-and: We both love and honor him.
  • Though-yet: Though he is suffering much pain, yet he does not complain. 
  • Whether-or: I do not care whether you go or stay. 
  • Not only-But also: Not only he is foolish, but also obstinate.

Types of Conjunctions

Conjunctions are divided into two classes

  1. Coordinating
  2. Subordinating

Coordinating Conjunctions

A Coordinating Conjunction joins together clauses of equal rank. These conjunctions join two words, phrases or independent clauses. Coordinating conjunctions appear in the middle of a sentence, without a comma for the same subject, and with a comma for different subjects.

Examples: and, but, yet, even, as well as, for, or, nor, also, either-or, neither-nor

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions link two sentences or clauses of unequal rank. A Subordinating Conjunction joins a clause to another one, which it depends for its full meaning. They appear at the beginning of a sentence with a comma or in the middle of a sentence with no comma.

Examples: after, because, if, that, though, although, till, before, unless, as, when, where, while, since, untill

Although

After although, use a subject + verb

  • Although it rained a lot, we enjoyed our holiday.
  • I didn't get the job although I had the necessary qualifications.

Compare the meaning of although and because

  • We went out although it was raining heavily.
  • We didn't go out because it was raining heavily.

In Spite of, Despite

After in spite of or despite, use a noun, a pronoun (this/that/what etc.) or -ing

  • In spite of the rain, we enjoyed our holiday.
  • I didn't get the job in spite of having the necessary qualifications.
  • She wasn't well, but in spite of this she continued working.
  • In spite of what I said yesterday, I still love you.

Despite is the same as in spite of. We say in spite of, but despite (without of)

  • She wasn't well, but despite this she continued working. (not despite of this)

You can say in spite of the fact (that) and despite the fact (that)

  • I didn't get the job in spite of the fact (that) I had the necessary qualifications.

Compare in spite of and because of

  • We went out in spite of the rain. (or despite the rain)
  • We didn't go out because of the rain.

Compare although and in spite of / despite

  • Although the traffic was bad, we arrived on time.
  • In spite of the traffic, we arrived on time.
  • I couldn't sleep although I was very tired.
  • I couldn't sleep despite being very tired.

Though

Though is the same as although

  • I didn't get the job though I had the necessary qualifications.

In spoken English we often use though at the end of a sentence

  • The house isn't so nice. I like the garden though. (= but I like the garden)
  • I see them every day. I've never spoken to them though. (= but I've never spoken to them)

Even though is a stronger form of although

  • Even though I was really tired, I couldn't sleep. (not Even I was really tired)

In Case

Some examples of in case

  • I'll leave my mobile phone switched on in case Shiela calls. (= because it is possible she will call)
  • I'll draw a map for you in case you have problems finding our house. (= because it is possible you will have problems)
  • I'll remind them about the meeting in case they've forgotten. (= because it is possible they have forgotten)

We use just in case for a smaller possibility

  • I don't think it will rain, but I'll take an umbrella just in case. (= just in case it rains)

Do not use will after in case. Use a present tense for the future

  • I'll leave my phone switched on in case Shiela calls. (not in case Shiela will call)

"In case of" is not the same as "in case". In case of = if there is

  • In case of fire, please leave the building as quickly as possible. (= if there is a fire)
  • In case of emergency, call this number. (= if there is an emergency)

Unless

Some examples of unless

  • I,ll see you tomorrow unless I have to work Late. (= except if I have to work late)
  • There are no buses to the beach. Unless you have a car, it's difficult to get there. (= except if you have a car)
  • 'Shall I tell Lara what happened' 'Not unless she asks you' (= only if she asks you)
  • Sonia hates to complain. She wouldn't complain about something unless it was really bad. (= except if it was really bad)
  • We can take a taxi to the restaurant unless you'd prefer to walk. (=except if you'd prefer to walk)

As

You can use as when two things happen at the same time

  • We all waved goodbye to Lara as she drove away. (We waved and she drove away at the same time)
  • As I walked along the street, I looked in the shop windows.
  • Can you turn off the light as you go out, please?

Something happened as you were doing something else (in the middle of doing something else)

  • Katrina slipped as she was getting off the bus.
  • We met Palak as we were leaving the hotel.

You can also use just as (= exactly at that moment)

  • Just as I sat down, the doorbell rang.
  • I had to leave just as the conversation was getting interesting.

We also use as when two things happen together in a longer period of time

  • As the day went on, the weather got worse.
  • I began to enjoy the job more as I got used to it.

Compare as and when

  • As I drove home, I listened to music. (= at the same time)
  • When I got home, I had something to eat. (not As I got home)

 

A Conjunction is a word which merely joins together sentences, and sometimes words.

Correlative Conjunctions

Conjunctions which are used in pairs are called Correlative Conjunctions or merely Correlatives. For example,

  • Either-or: Either take it or leave it. 
  • Neither-nor: It is neither useful nor ornamental. 
  • Both-and: We both love and honor him.
  • Though-yet: Though he is suffering much pain, yet he does not complain. 
  • Whether-or: I do not care whether you go or stay. 
  • Not only-But also: Not only he is foolish, but also obstinate.

Classes of Conjunctions

Conjunctions are divided into two classes: Coordinating and Subordinating

Coordinating Conjunctions

A Coordinating Conjunction joins together clauses of equal rank. Examples: And, but, for, or, nor, also, either-or, neither-nor.

Subordinating Conjunctions

A Subordinating Conjunction joins a clause to another on, which it depends for its full meaning. Examples: After, because, if, that, though, although, till, before, unless, as, when, where, while.

Although

After although, use a subject + verb

  • Although it rained a lot, we enjoyed our holiday.
  • I didn't get the job although I had the necessary qualifications.

Compare the meaning of although and because

  • We went out although it was raining heavily.
  • We didn't go out because it was raining heavily.

In Spite of, Despite

After in spite of or despite, use a noun, a pronoun (this/that/what etc.) or -ing

  • In spite of the rain, we enjoyed our holiday.
  • I didn't get the job in spite of having the necessary qualifications.
  • She wasn't well, but in spite of this she continued working.
  • In spite of what I said yesterday, I still love you.

Despite is the same as in spite of. We say in spite of, but despite (without of)

  • She wasn't well, but despite this she continued working. (not despite of this)

You can say in spite of the fact (that) and despite the fact (that)

  • I didn't get the job in spite of the fact (that) I had the necessary qualifications.

Compare in spite of and because of

  • We went out in spite of the rain. (or despite the rain)
  • We didn't go out because of the rain.

Compare although and in spite of / despite

  • Although the traffic was bad, we arrived on time.
  • In spite of the traffic, we arrived on time.
  • I couldn't sleep although I was very tired.
  • I couldn't sleep despite being very tired.

Though

Though is the same as although

  • I didn't get the job though I had the necessary qualifications.

In spoken English we often use though at the end of a sentence

  • The house isn't so nice. I like the garden though. (= but I like the garden)
  • I see them every day. I've never spoken to them though. (= but I've never spoken to them)

Even though is a stronger form of although

  • Even though I was really tired, I couldn't sleep. (not Even I was really tired)

In Case

Some examples of in case

  • I'll leave my mobile phone switched on in case Shiela calls. (= because it is possible she will call)
  • I'll draw a map for you in case you have problems finding our house. (= because it is possible you will have problems)
  • I'll remind them about the meeting in case they've forgotten. (= because it is possible they have forgotten)

We use just in case for a smaller possibility

  • I don't think it will rain, but I'll take an umbrella just in case. (= just in case it rains)

Do not use will after in case. Use a present tense for the future

  • I'll leave my phone switched on in case Shiela calls. (not in case Shiela will call)

"In case of" is not the same as "in case". In case of = if there is

  • In case of fire, please leave the building as quickly as possible. (= if there is a fire)
  • In case of emergency, call this number. (= if there is an emergency)

Unless

Some examples of unless

  • I,ll see you tomorrow unless I have to work Late. (= except if I have to work late)
  • There are no buses to the beach. Unless you have a car, it's difficult to get there. (= except if you have a car)
  • 'Shall I tell Lara what happened' 'Not unless she asks you' (= only if she asks you)
  • Sonia hates to complain. She wouldn't complain about something unless it was really bad. (= except if it was really bad)
  • We can take a taxi to the restaurant unless you'd prefer to walk. (=except if you'd prefer to walk)

As

You can use as when two things happen at the same time

  • We all waved goodbye to Lara as she drove away. (We waved and she drove away at the same time)
  • As I walked along the street, I looked in the shop windows.
  • Can you turn off the light as you go out, please?

Something happened as you were doing something else (in the middle of doing something else)

  • Katrina slipped as she was getting off the bus.
  • We met Palak as we were leaving the hotel.

You can also use just as (= exactly at that moment)

  • Just as I sat down, the doorbell rang.
  • I had to leave just as the conversation was getting interesting.

We also use as when two things happen together in a longer period of time

  • As the day went on, the weather got worse.
  • I began to enjoy the job more as I got used to it.

Compare as and when

  • As I drove home, I listened to music. (= at the same time)
  • When I got home, I had something to eat. (not As I got home)

As also means 'because'

  • As I was hungry, I decided to find somewhere to eat. (= because I was hungry)
  • As we have plenty of time before our flight, let's go and have a coffee.
  • We watched TV all evening as we didn't have anything better to do.
  • As I don't watch television any more, I gave my TV to a friend of mine.

Like

You can use like to say how somebody or something looks/sounds/feels:

  • That house looks like it's going to fall down.
  • Hema sounded like she had a cold, didn't she?
  • I've just got back from holiday, but I feel very tired. I don't feel like I've had a holiday.