There are many words used in English to link various phrasal elements. One such part of speech is the coordinate/coordinating conjunction, which plays a salient role in sentence structure and how a sentence is interpreted. In this article, we’ll explain what a coordinating conjunction is, offer some examples of its usage, and discuss common mistakes one should avoid.
What is a Coordinate Conjunction?
A coordinating conjunction, such as for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so is a joining word used to connect two sentence fragments of equal importance in terms of structure and rank. For instance, I arrived at class early today but still did not get a good seat; here, the conjunction “but” unites two subordinate clauses semantically and syntactically.
Here are the grammatical structures that a coordinating conjunction ties together to form a sentence:
A word is a single unit of speech or writing that mostly cannot stand on its own to form meaning.
The conjunction ‘and’ and ‘or’ commonly joins words in a series.
|– She cried and screamed.|
– Aryan is deciding whether to pursue medicine or engineering.
A phrase is a group of words without a subject-verb unit that helps complete a sentence.
|– He likes staying at home but forces himself to socialize outside.|
– Layla is surprised to win a scholarship and grateful for the opportunity.
A clause is a cluster of words containing a subject-verb unit. It can be an independent clause that can stand on its own or a dependent clause that is not a complete sentence.
|– I am excited to go on vacation, yet nervous about the long flight.|
– Carlos does not like to eat at fast food restaurants, nor does he like to cook.
Coordinate Conjunctions Rules
Among the four types of conjunctions, coordinate conjunctions are the most straightforward. They join two equal elements in a sentence, such as two independent clauses, two phrases, or two words. They help make fluid compound sentences and express a complete idea.
A sentence without a coordinate conjunction sounds monotonous. For example, Alejandro bought a new vacuum cleaner. It is not functioning well. Here, the two sentences are not connected and sound dull. To improve it, add a coordinate conjunction: Alejandro bought a new vacuum cleaner, but it is not functioning well.
There are seven common coordinating conjunctions. The table below summarizes how to use them correctly.
|For||shows the reason of an action||– He had driven through the snow, for his mother called for help.|
– We have tried to make the celebration perfect, for it is the last time we will be together.
|And||adds information; creates a series of options or ideas or serial sentence||– William baked a carrot cake and cooked chicken curry for the party.|
– I need an interesting book, a cup of tea, a relaxing ambiance, and a comfortable chair to read.
|Nor||negates a statement; commonly used with auxiliary verbs ‘do’ and ‘does’||– She does not know how to commute here nor does she have a car.|
– The kids do not like to play at the park nor do they like to stay at home.
|But||expresses a contrast between two events or actions||– We struggled to keep the business afloat but are now seeing a profit.|
– Starting a workout routine is challenging but rewarding.
|Or||gives options; can also be used in a series||– Do you want to visit the site or watch a movie?|
– We can sell these online, open a garage sale or donate it at the foundation.
|Yet||indicating concession or contrast||– The team was exhausted yet they still managed to win the game.|
– He wanted to go on vacation yet he had no money.
|So||conveys a result of an action or event||– Maya passed the board examination, so her parents celebrated at a fancy restaurant.|
– The passer-by saw the crime, so he was invited to testify.
Punctuation of Coordinating Conjunctions
Punctuation is a foundational grammar skill in writing. Understanding how to properly punctuate your sentences can make all the difference between conveying a clear message or losing your reader along the way. One particular rule that often trips people up is knowing when to use commas before coordinating conjunctions.
Here are the rules of punctuation you must remember:
- Use a serial comma or the Oxford to separate items in a series.
- I washed the dishes, folded the linens, and vacuumed the carpet.
- He bought me flowers, chocolates, and a teddy bear for Valentine’s.
- We want quality education, responsive government, and a safe environment.
- If a coordinating conjunction combines two independent clauses, place a comma before the coordinating conjunction.
- He was tired, so he decided to take a nap.
- Ana wanted to go to the beach, but her friends wanted to go hiking.
- They need to submit the proposal, yet they have not finished it.
- Do not use a comma when a coordinate conjunction connects two words, phrases, or dependent clauses.
- He was old yet energetic.
- The cat jumped over the fence and into the garden.
- Nena is beautiful and intelligent.
- Do not use a comma when a coordinate conjunction starts a sentence.
- They met after all the challenges they faced. And they all lived happily ever after.
- Romer reviewed only for two days. Yet he still managed to pass the exam.
- Kimberly finds hiking hard. But she refused to give up.
Examples of Coordinate Conjunctions
- For Diana despises confrontations, she avoids arguments.
- He turned his back on you, for he was not in a good mood.
- We will provide the transportation cost and meals for one week.
- A dog, cat, and hamster are great pets.
- Harold does not drink eight glasses of water nor eats healthy food.
- That group of friends does not eat in the cafeteria, nor do they go to the library.
- He called you several times, but your phone was probably on silent.
- Sarah needs a new pair of shoes but does not have enough money.
- Do they need a hammer or a screwdriver?
- I can’t decide if I should go to the theatre or visit my friend.
- The opposition does not have a strong argument, yet they still insist on their position.
- It was raining heavily, yet the children still went outside to play.
- My mother waters the plants regularly; so they stay healthy.
- He created a prototype so he could test the product.
Coordinate Conjunctions Exercises with Answers
Combine the pair of sentences below using coordinate conjunctions.
1. Daniela did not attend her classes. She was ill.
2. The students sang. The students recited a poem.
3. The player tried to catch the ball. His opponent was faster.
4. He was dissatisfied with the results. He scrapped the whole project.
5. The room does not have enough chairs. It does not have enough tables.
1. Daniela did not attend her classes because she was ill.
2. The students sang and recited a poem.
3. The player tried to catch the ball, but his opponent was faster.
4. He was dissatisfied with the results, so he scrapped the whole project.
5. The room does not have enough chairs, nor does it have enough tables.
Coordinate Conjunctions List
Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners
English grammar, like any language, is a complex subject to study. Understanding and applying grammar rules can be challenging, especially for English language learners. However, your success in learning the language is dependent on your learning plan.
First, know that there are different levels of language proficiency. Knowing your status allows you to align it with your study materials and learning strategy. To keep your motivation, select beginner-friendly materials instead of university textbooks when starting. In doing so, you will feel less intimidated by the topics you should learn.
Second, focus on the basics: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Learn how to use them correctly in sentences and understand their meaning. It will help you build a strong foundation for your English language learning journey. Divide those topics into subtopics and learn each concept and rule one by one.
Third, find a reliable source of learning materials. Online resources such as websites, blogs, and YouTube videos are mostly free. LillyPad’s blog, for example, is a great resource for English language learning materials. Additionally, you can find books and other printed materials in your local library or bookstore.
Fourth, practice speaking the language with native speakers or other English learners. It will help you understand how to use the language correctly in conversations and improve your pronunciation.
Finally, be patient with yourself and don’t give up. Learning a language takes time and effort, so set realistic goals and celebrate your achievements along the way.
Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand subordinate conjunctions and types of conjunctions.
Common Errors Made by English Learners
Learning a new language can be difficult, and English is no exception. Even experienced English learners make mistakes when speaking or writing in the language. Here are some of the most common mistakes made by English learners:
|Common Mistake||Why it Happens||Correction||Examples|
|Overusing the conjunction ‘and’||The conjunction ‘and’ is one of the most used coordinate conjunction. Some learners tend to overuse it in the beginning stage of their English language learning journey, for they might be unfamiliar with the other conjunctions.|
The purpose of conjunctions is to make statements coherent and avoid monotony. To achieve this, learn the proper usage of coordinate conjunctions and use them correctly in sentences.
|This sentence is grammatically correct:|
Onion production has increased locally, and the prices remain higher in the market.
However, ‘but’ is more proper to express the contrast of two statements, as in:
Onion production has increased locally, but the prices remain higher in the market.
|Writing sentence fragments when using coordinating conjunctions||Learners sometimes forget that coordinating conjunctions connect two grammatical structures of equal weight.||While it is acceptable to begin a sentence with coordinate conjunctions, ensure that a complete sentence follows a sentence fragment.||Incorrect:|
But I went home alone.
And my sister was with me at the party.
Because she met her friends. Correct:
My sister was with me at the party. But I went home alone.
My sister was with me at the party, but I went home alone.
I went home alone. Because my sister met her friends.
I went home alone because my sister had met her friends.
|Using “and” instead of “but” when the second clause of a sentence states unexpected happenings||Some learners are not familiar with the function of conjunctions. Hence, they tend to use it incorrectly.||Although ‘but’ and ‘and’ are correlative conjunctions, they differ in meaning and usage. The conjunction ‘and’ is for enumeration, while ‘but’ shows contrast or unexpected happening.||Incorrect: I was cooking dinner, and my brother said he already ate outside.|
He prepared a gift, and she didn’t show up.
I was cooking dinner, but my brother said he already ate outside.
He prepared a gift, but she didn’t show up.
Learning Strategies and Best Practices for Coordinate Conjunctions
A holistic approach to learning a language makes it easier to understand and remember. The five macro skills, reading, listening, viewing, speaking, and writing, should be developed and used in the learning process for better language acquisition. The table below lists activities you can do when learning linking verbs:
|Reading||– Use flashcards to know basic English sight words and their meaning.|
– Search for material that contains translations of common expressions from your native language to English.
– Select study materials appropriate for your language proficiency.
|Listening||– Listen to an audiobook or a song and write what you hear to improve your retention of English words.|
– Compare and contrast two audio materials like TV ads and a speech.
– Summarize a podcast, movie, audiobook, and other English audio materials.
|Viewing||– Observe how native speakers speak and try to mimic it.|
– Watch English movies, interviews, and tutorials.
– Use pictographs to learn and remember new words.
|Speaking||– Join a community of English language learners and communicate with them to improve and gain feedback.|
– Integrate the language into your daily life and try to speak using English.
– Participate in speech organizations (e.g. debate clubs, theatre groups)
|Writing||– Write a journal of your learning journey in English.|
– Answer practice tests and create your own sentences.
– Create a reflection essay on the media you watch or listen to.
Coordinate Conjunctions Frequently Asked Questions
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