You use conjunctions to connect different phrases within a sentence.
The easiest conjunction is "and". I like dogs and I like cats.
The use of different conjunctions makes your texts more fluent and interesting. Only using "and" would be really boring…
You have to differentiate between two different kinds of conjunctions: coordinating and subordinating conjunctions. "And" is a coordinating conjunction.
Coordinating conjunctions connect two main clauses. Subordinating conjunctions connect a main clause with a subordinate clause. They emphasise the main clause more than the subordinate clause.
He was doing his homework and cooking dinner at the same time.
Would you like to come with us or would you rather stay at home?
I like pop music but I prefer classical music.
both … and
I travelled to Spain and visited both Barcelona and Madrid.
either … or
You could either wear a dress or a skirt.
neither … nor
Neither does he like Asian food nor sushi.
not only … but also
He not only studies three subjects but also has a job as a waiter.
There are numerous different subordinating conjunctions. They can be divided in groups referring to time, reason and condition. Some subordinating conjunctions do not fit into any of these groups, though.
Clauses of Time
Subordinating conjunction (time)
He found his keys after he had been looking for them for hours.
I had just left the house as it suddenly started raining.
as soon as
I'll call you as soon as I know more about it.
You should better start studying before it is too late.
The children seem unhappy since their father has left the family.
I won't tell you until you promise you will keep it as a secret.
It was not until he was standing directly in front of me that I recognized Tim.
We were in the middle of a discussion when without a warning Mr Smith left.
My mom buys chocolate for me whenever I come home.
Lara was already asleep while Jenny kept playing with her toys.
Subordinating Conjunctions of Reason
- I do not want to come over for dinner because I really do not like sausages.
- Since almost everybody was late, the meeting had to start half an hour later.
- The match was not difficult for him as he was a really good chess player.
If you want to make a condition, you could use one of the following conjunctions. For further reading on a similar topic, go to Conditional Sentences.
- If you do not help me, we will not have a cake tonight.
- We will go on a bike tour tomorrow unless it is raining very hard.
- The children do not feel scared at night as long as their father reads them a story before going to sleep.
More Subordinating Conjunctions
- The team lost the game although it is supposed to be very good.
- We can only go as far as that.
- I won't change my mind even if you ask me a hundred times.
- The sun was really hot so that almost everybody got sunburned.
Now that you have read through all these examples, it is time to get some work done! Take a look at the exercise below and try to fill in the right conjunctions.