Contributor: Kristen Gardiner. Lesson ID: 10475

Are you suffering from uncoordinated or insubordinate clauses? Join some comics, Schoolhouse Rock, and online games to learn how conjunctions can cure your clause concerns and improve your writing!


Grammar, Writing

English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


What are Conjunctions?

Conjunctions are the glue of the English language. Conjunctions stick words together to create compound subjects and predicates; they hold phrases and clauses together to make complete ideas and sentences and compound sentences; they make simple sentences into more interesting complex sentences and they even work together in pairs to help bond things together more closely.

Let's Take a Look at a Quick Video to Help Us Become Familiar with Conjunctions

Schoolhouse Rock, conjunction junction:


Types of Conjunctions

There are three types of conjunctions that we use every day:

1. Coordinating

Coordinating conjunctions connect two words or groups of words that are similar. They may connect two words, two phrases, two independent clauses, or two dependent clauses.

For example, in each of the following sentences the coordinating conjunction “and" connects similar words, phrases, and clauses. Using "and" to connect two words: Hannah and Emily stayed up all night practicing their lines for the school play.

Here, we are using and to connect two people, Hannah and Emily, and show that they performed the same action. Remember to use a comma if you are using it to list three or more people, places, or things.

For example:
Hannah, Emily, and Jess stayed up all night practicing their lines for the school play.

Using "and" to connect two phrases: The cat jumped over the dog and onto the sofa.

Here, the word and is used to connect the cat's two actions.

If we were to break this sentence apart, we would have two parts:

  • The cat jumped over the dog.
  • onto the sofa

As we can see, the phrase, "onto the sofa" is not a complete sentence. A phrase does not contain a subject and a predicate of its own. In order for this to make sense, we would need to make this into two separate sentences:

  • The cat jumped over the dog.
  • The cat jumped onto the sofa.

These two simple sentences sound awkward and choppy on their own. By using the conjunction and we can join the phrases, making these two simple sentences into one sentence with a compound predicate (showing the cat's two actions). This makes our writing more clear and less choppy for the reader.

Using "and" to connect two clauses: A few ducks landed in our pool this fall, and they became so comfortable that they decided to stay all winter.

In this sentence, we see two clauses; in this case, two independent clauses (meaning each clause has its own subject and predicate), joined together to make one flowing sentence.

Clauses can be independent, meaning they can stand alone, or they can be dependent, which means they are missing either a subject or a predicate and must be attached to another part of a sentence to make it complete.

The most important thing to remember when joining clauses with a conjunction is that you must use a comma BEFORE the coordinating conjunction.

Here's another example using two independent clauses:
My dad really dislikes the mall, but he takes me shopping anyway.
(Notice that both sides of the sentence before and after the comma each have a subject and a predicate.)

Here's a example using an independent and dependent clause:
Jeremy once beat me at tag, but was no match for me at jump rope.

girl jumping rope

One good thing about coordinating conjunctions is that there are only seven coordinating conjunctions to remember, using the fun acronym “FANBOYS": for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.

2. Subordinating

Subordinating conjunctions join two groups of words together in a very special way. They join two groups of words together and magically turn one group of words into a special kind of clause that acts like an adverb. Adverbs help to describe the verbs in a sentence, but in this case, the adverb clause created by the subordinating conjunction helps to answer the questions "why" or "when" about the rest of the sentence.

Here are a few examples:

  • I can go shopping after I finish studying for my exam (when).
  • Because it was still early, Pam decided to take baby Phillip for a walk (why).

Subordinating conjunctions can also come in handy when you are trying to bargain:
I’ll give you two Pokémon Cards if you give me that marble you found (conditions or terms).

Subordinating conjunctions also help to show different types of conflict of struggle:
Although he never could figure out why, Spencer smiled at him on his way out the door.
Because he knew he would be late, Caleb was angry with himself for agreeing to go in the first place.

Note: Use a comma when the subordinating conjunction appears at the beginning of the sentence.

magic wand

There are many subordinating conjunctions, but here is a list of a few you will see most often:

  • After
  • Although
  • As soon as
  • Because
  • Before
  • Even though
  • Since
  • Until
  • Unless
  • If
  • While
  • When

3. Correlative

Correlative conjunctions are like best friends because you never find them apart. They are always used in pairs and they act in much the same way as coordinating conjunctions because they join words and parts of sentences that are similar.

The following are some examples of correlative conjunctions:

Both, and:
Both Jim and Dwight made honor roll last semester.

Neither, nor:
Neither Pam nor Angela made the drama production.

Not only, but also:
Not only did Mike get a solo in the choir, but he also got the lead in the school musical.

Back to the Comic

Now that we know a little more about conjunctions, let's take a look at our friends in the comic. If you are having trouble reading it on screen, print Conjunction Comic found in the Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar. Take a look at the boy's choppy sentences in the third panel.

Reread this block with your teacher and use conjunctions to rewrite the block so it sounds less choppy and easier to read. Try to use all three types of conjunctions if possible.

When you are finished, underline all of your coordinating conjunctions in blue, subordinating in red, and correlative (both words) in purple. Give your paper to your teacher to review.

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