April 19, 2016

What Are Conjunctions – And How Do You Use Them?

3 minute read

Conjunctions are a really essential piece of English grammar. We use them all the time, and without them, the way we communicate would be completely different!

And it’s probably safe to say that without realising it, you’re already quite familiar with a few of the most conjunctions.

So what are they, and how are they used? Read on to find out!

What are conjunctions?

Conjunctions are those small words used to link separate clauses and phrases together in a single sentence. These include words like “and”, “or”, “but” and “because”.

You can think of them as the glue that holds a sentence together, helping you to share ideas and make connections more easily, instead of having to make lots of short, blunt little statements.

How to use them

Let’s see them in action with some examples:

“I’m going to the gym and I will go to my friend’s house afterwards.”

“She hurt her back because she fell off her bike.”

“You can either have the cheesecake or ice cream for dessert, but you can’t have both.”

In all of these examples, conjunctions have been used to bring together separate statements into a single sentence. Let’s take a closer look.

In the first example, the conjunction used is “and”. Without it, the sentence would read:

“I’m going to the gym. I will go to my friend’s house afterwards.”

While the information conveyed is still the same, the use of the conjunction helps to create a better flow with the sentence. Without it, the same information seems blunter and a little terse!

In the second example, the conjunction used is “because”. Without it, the sentence reads as follows:

“She hurt her back. She fell off her bike.”

In this case, the conjunction is very important – without it, the meaning of the sentence becomes quite different. The use of “because” shows that there is a connection between the two – an action has happened as a result of something else. Without the conjunction, the connection between the two events is not directly clear.

Which conjunction to use?

There are lots of conjunctions in the English language, and each one has a specific role. Take a look at some of the most common ones to learn how they are used:

  • For: this is used to show the reason or purpose for doing something. For example, “I bought this top for my mother’s birthday party.”
  • And: this adds one item to another. For example, “I am studying English and Chemistry at college.”
  • But: this is used to show some kind of contrast or difference between things. For example, “she talks to her brother, but won’t ever contact her sisters.”
  • Because: this shows that something happens as a result of something else taking place. For example: “He came first in the race because he practiced a lot.”
  • So: this shows that something happens following on from another event. For example: “I had to borrow some money so I could pay for my car.”

Your turn

Conjunctions are found in almost every use of English – pay attention and you’ll start to see them everywhere! A great way to get more familiar with them is by highlighting conjunctions when you see them, and understanding the role they play in the sentence. Try noting down examples you see around you, and see what they would be like without the conjunctions.