Conjunctions - English Grammar Notes

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  • A conjunction is a word that connects words or groups of words. Like prepositions, conjunctions show a relationship between the words they connect. But, unlike prepositions, conjunctions do not have objects.
  • There are 3 main categories of conjunctions;
    1. Coordinating conjunctions
    2. Subordinating conjunctions
    3. Correlative conjunctions

Coordinating Conjunctions

  • Coordinating conjunctions connect related words, groups of words, or sentences.
  • There are three coordinating conjunctions: and, but and or. And is used to join words, groups of words, or sentences together. But shows contrast while or shows choice.


- The bull and the cart are inseparable. (connects two subjects).
- The cart carries the farmer and his tools. (connects two direct objects).
- The food was hard and tasteless. (connects two predicate adjectives).
- Each night, the dancers danced in a circle or in several other patterns. (connects two prepositional phrases).
- Some people died in the fracas, but most managed to escape, alive. (connects two sentences).

Exercise 1

Complete each of the following sentences using the most appropriate coordinating conjunction

  1. Bats and insects fly, ____________ only birds have feathers.
  2. Eagles build nests on cliffs ______________ in tall trees.
  3. Parrots live in wild places _______________ in zoos.
  4. Swallows ______________ sparrows often build nests in buildings.
  5. Hummingbirds are tiny __________ very brave.
  6. Many birds fly south in winter, ______________ others do not.
  7. Their feathers keep them warm ____________ dry.
  8. A bird can fly forward _____________ backward.
  9. Many birds shed old feathers ______________ grow new ones.
  10. Their legs are weak ____________ their wings are strong.

Subordinating Conjunctions

  • Subordinating conjunctions connect two or more clauses to form complex sentences (to be discussed later). Subordinating conjunctions introduce subordinate clauses. They include because, since, if, as, whether, and for.


  1. If I go home, my dog will follow me.
    - The subordinating conjunction if connects the subordinate clause I go home with the main clause my dog will follow me.
  2. They stayed inside the church because it was raining.
  3. He was always rude since he was a child.
  4. The rain fell as they entered the building.
  5. The pastor asked the congregation whether they were happy.
  6. The man rejoiced for he had won a prize.

Exercise 2

Join the following pairs of sentences using the most appropriate subordinating conjunctions.

  1. They arrived late. It was raining heavily.
  2. John worked hard. He wanted to buy a house.
  3. I won’t carry the umbrella. You need it.
  4. I drove the car madly. I was later for the meeting.
  5. He will come. The meeting ends.

Correlative Conjunctions

  • Correlative conjunctions are conjunctions that are used in pairs to connect sentence parts. These include either ….. or, neither ….. nor, not only……. but also, whether ……. or and both …… and.


    - Both boys and girls attended the conference.
    - People brought not only food but also clothes for the victims of the floods.
    - The students ride either on bicycles or motorbikes.
    - The sailor had to decide whether to sail on or head back when the weather changed.
    - Neither John nor James was moved by the shocking news.

Exercise 3

Join the following pairs of sentences using the correlative conjunctions in brackets.

  1. The vehicles stopped for repairs. The vehicles stopped for fuel. (either…..or)
  2. The drivers knew they had to travel more than fifty kilometres. If they did not travel more than fifty kilometres, they would have to endure harsh storms. (either….or).
  3. Many people build their own homes. Many people grow their own food. (not only…but also)
  4. Men wanted to buy the pictures. Women also wanted to buy the pictures.(both…. and)
  5. Maize is an important part of a Kenyan’s diet. Meat is important too. (both… and)


Exercise 1

  1. but 
  2. or           
  3. or          
  4. and            
  5. but             
  6. but
  7. and
  8. or
  9. and
  10. but

Exercise 2

  1. They arrived late because it was raining heavily.
  2. John worked hard as he wanted to buy a house.
  3. I won’t carry the umbrella for you need it.
  4. I drove the car madly since I was late for the meeting.
  5. He will come before the meeting ends.

Exercise 3

  1. The vehicles either stopped for repairs or for fuel.
  2. The drivers knew they had either to travel more than fifty kilometres or endure harsh storms.
  3. Many people not only build their own homes but also grow their own food.
  4. Both men and women wanted to buy the pictures.
  5. Both maize and meat are important parts of a Kenyan’s diet.
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