Coordinating Conjunctions – Learn What They Are, Their Definition, Usage with Examples

Conjunctions are generally used in a sentence to combine two words, phrases or clauses and they are divided into three main types namely coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions and correlative conjunctions. This article discusses the meaning and usage of coordinating conjunctions in detail along with examples and practice questions to help you have a clear understanding and use them effectively.

Table of Contents

What is a Coordinating Conjunction?

A coordinating conjunction is a short word that is used in a sentence to link or join two or more words, phrases or clauses that have equal grammatical and syntactic importance. Let us now look at how different dictionaries define coordinating conjunctions.

Definition of a Coordinating Conjunction

A coordinating conjunction is defined as “a word such as or, and or but, that connects clauses or sentences of equal importance”, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary. The Collins Dictionary defines a coordinating conjunction as “ a word such as ‘and,’ ‘or,’ or ‘but’ which joins two or more words, groups, or clauses of equal status, for example two main clauses.” According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a coordinating conjunction is “a conjunction (such as and or or) that joins together words or word groups of equal grammatical rank.”

Types of Coordinating Conjunctions

Based on the role they play in a sentence, coordinating conjunctions are classified into four main types. They are:

  • Cumulative Coordinating Conjunction – This type of coordinating conjunctions are used to add a statement, a phrase or a word to another.

For example: I went to buy groceries and my brother went to the clinic.

  • Alternative Coordinating Conjunction – This type of conjunction is used to present or link alternative ideas or objects. It can also be used to list different options in order to provide a choice between them.

For example: Do you want noodles or pasta for breakfast?

  • Adversative Coordinating Conjunction – This type of conjunction is used to denote contrasting ideas or opposing statements.

For example: We finally reached the restaurant but we were not hungry anymore.

Latha was sick, yet she went to work.

  • Illative Coordinating Conjunction – This type of conjunction is used to indicate an observation or inference.

For example: I cannot go out as planned for it is raining heavily.

I had to buy some groceries so I went to the supermarket.

Examples of Coordinating Conjunctions

In the English language, there are seven coordinating conjunctions and they are referred to by the acronym FANBOYS. Given below are the coordinating conjunctions in English.

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

Now, take a look at how these coordinating conjunctions can be used differently to link the various parts of a sentence.

‘For’

  • Combining two parts of the sentence – Popeye could not make it to the party for the rain.
  • Combine two clauses – She was on leave yesterday, for she was sick.

‘And’

  • Combining two nouns – Kukku and Deepa have been married for three years now.
  • Combining two phrases – Keeping a journal and listening to music are my hobbies.
  • Combine two clauses – The Taj Mahal is in Agra, and it is considered as a symbol of Shahjahan’s love for his wife, Mumtaz.

‘Nor’

  • Combining two nouns – She does not like having milk nor eggs.
  • Combining two phrases – Do not forget to lock the door nor turn off the lights.
  • Combine two clauses – Danny does not miss the gym, nor does he miss his diet.

‘But’

  • Combining two nouns – It is not Henry who should do it but you.
  • Combining two phrases – I was looking for you but found your brother instead.
  • Combine two clauses – Kavitha is not a fan of marvel movies, but she loved Black Panther.

‘Or’

  • Combining two nouns – The speech would be given by Priya or Inba.
  • Combining two phrases – Would you like to cook your own food or order food online?
  • Combine two clauses – You can go to the theater, or watch it online.

‘Yet’

  • Combining two phrases – It was raining yet sunny and bright.
  • Combine two clauses – My brother just had his lunch, yet he says he is still hungry.

‘So’

  • Combining two phrases – I did not find the measuring cups so used measuring spoons to prepare the dough for the cake.
  • Combine two clauses – The mother bird left, so my brother took care of it.

Points to Remember When Using Coordinating Conjunctions

There are some points to keep in mind when you use coordinating conjunctions. Have a look at the following.

  • When coordinating conjunctions are used to combine two independent clauses, a comma should be used before the latter clause.
  • When coordinating conjunctions are used in a sentence to connect two phrases, a comma need not be used.
  • When a coordinating conjunction is used to connect multiple nouns or a list of items, you have the liberty to use a comma or not before the coordinating conjunction.
  • It is always perceived that you cannot start sentences with a conjunction but that is not the truth. You can use a conjunction to start the sentence if the particular context demands or allows it.

Test Your Understanding of Coordinating Conjunctions

Now that you have learned the different ways in which coordinating conjunctions can be used, try applying your knowledge. Fill in the blanks with the most suitable coordinating conjunction in the following sentences:

1. Sid ____ Neena planned to have dinner at China Valley.

2. See to it that you leave home early ______ you can reach the exam center in time.

3. She reached home late, ______ she looked very energetic.

4. Do you like black olives ______ green olives?

5. I am sure I locked the door, _____ I cannot remember if I took the keys.

6. My friend _____ I had dinner at Patiala House ______ it was the last day before she moved to Delhi.

7. My cousin did not collect the clothes from the dry cleaner ______ did he buy the things required for the birthday party.

8. He had a lot of sweets to an extent that he could become sick, ______ he says he can have more.

9. The teacher did not ask for you _____ him.

10. I met my friend at Anna Nagar, _____ from there, we went to the Thiruvanmiyur Beach together.

Check if you got your answers right from the following:

1. Sid and Neena planned to have dinner at China Valley.

2. See to it that you leave home early so you can reach the exam center in time.

3. She reached home late, yet she looked very energetic.

4. Do you like black olives or green olives?

5. I am sure I locked the door, but I cannot remember if I took the keys.

6. My friend and I had dinner at Patiala House, for it was the last day before she moved to Delhi.

7. My cousin did not collect the clothes from the dry cleaner nor did he buy the things required for the birthday party.

8. He had a lot of sweets to an extent that he could become sick, yet he says he can have more.

9. The teacher did not ask for you but him.

10. I met my friend at Anna Nagar, and from there, we went to the Thiruvanmiyur Beach together.

Frequently Asked Questions on Coordinating Conjunctions in English

What is a coordinating conjunction?

A coordinating conjunction is a short word that is used in a sentence to link or join two or more words, phrases or clauses that have equal grammatical and syntactic importance.

What is the definition of a coordinating conjunction?

A coordinating conjunction is defined as “a word such as or, and or but, that connects clauses or sentences of equal importance”, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary. The Collins Dictionary defines a coordinating conjunction as “ a word such as ‘and,’ ‘or,’ or ‘but’ which joins two or more words, groups, or clauses of equal status, for example two main clauses.” According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a coordinating conjunction is “a conjunction (such as and or or) that joins together words or word groups of equal grammatical rank.”

What are the coordinating conjunctions in English?

There are seven coordinating conjunctions in English and they are as follows:

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

What are the types of coordinating conjunctions?

Coordinating conjunctions are classified into four main types based on the role they play in a sentence. They are:

  • Cumulative Coordinating Conjunction
  • Alternative Coordinating Conjunction
  • Adversative Coordinating Conjunction
  • Illative Coordinating Conjunction

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