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How to Use Conjunctions to Significantly Improve Your Writing

This lesson will explain the benefits of conjunctions in your writing, not just to be grammatically correct, but also for the benefit of clearer and more organized communication.

Basic English Sentence Structure

A clause in English needs to have two things in order to be a complete idea: 

  1. a subject (a noun or noun phrase)

  2. a verb in a tense (such as past simple or present perfect tense) to communicate the time of the clause, which means when the verb happens

Clause = Noun/Noun Phrase + Verb in a Tense

Using Conjunctions

When you write two clauses in the same sentence, the relationship between these clauses needs to be explained.  Using a comma alone is not enough.  A clause without a conjunction is called an independent clause because it is the main point of the whole sentence. 

If you write more than one clause without a conjunction it will confuse the reader because it will seem like several independent clauses together, which sounds like random thoughts without any relationship to each other.  Your job as a writer is to make it as easy as possible for the reader to understand how your ideas are connected.  When you write two clauses together, think about how they are related. Some example of how they might be related are when the second clauses adds...

more related information / contrast / a reason / a result / a necessary condition / a time reference

Match these conjunctions with their purpose above: so, while, and, as, but, as long as (answers below)

  • More Related Information = and

  • Contrast = but

  • Reason = as

  • Result = so

  • Necessary Condition = as long as

  • Time Reference = while


A person writing

Conjunctions That Don't Require You to Repeat the Same Subject

In general, you need a subject noun for every clause that starts with a conjunction:

  • I didn't buy the jacket because was expensive (incorrect - there is no subject noun for the clause after "because")

  • I didn't buy the jacket because it was expensive (correct - there is a subject noun "it" for the clause after "because")

However, there are a few exceptions. When you use the conjunctions “and”, “or”, “nor”, “but”, or “yet”, you don’t need to repeat the subject if it’s the same subject as in the first clause.  You also don't need a comma.

And

The lifeguard jumped into the water and rescued the drowning boy.

Or

We can go to a museum or walk around the city and look at the buildings.

(Neither) Nor

She is neither working nor studying these days.

But/Yet

He ordered a meal but didn’t eat it / He ordered a meal yet didn’t eat it

However, if you are changing the subject for the second clause, you must add the new subject in:

  • We bought a car, and it has made our life so much easier.

  • I can go to your house, or you can come to mine.

  • She wanted to buys some tickets, but they were too expensive.

  • He asked his friends for help, yet none of them were available.

When you are using a conjunction other than "and", "or", "nor", "but/yet", you always need to include a subject (noun) before the verb tense, even if it’s the same subject as the previous clause.  In the following sentences, identify the missing subjects at the beginning of a new clause and correct them (answers below the sentences):

  1. I usually don't attend the class because is too early in the morning.

  2. I don’t like to go to the downtown area because are too many people there.

  3. Nobody knows if will be successful the project or not.

  4. They are not tall enough so cannot go on the rollercoaster.

Answers:

  1. I usually don't attend the class because it is too early in the morning.

  2. I don't like to go to the downtown area because there are too many people there.

  3. Nobody knows if the project will be successful or not.

  4. They are not tall enough, so they cannot go on the rollercoaster.


Please note that you can find a detailed chart of conjunctions and how to use them at the end of this lesson (after the practice and answers section below).

Improve your grammar quicky and easily with 50 lessons like this one about the most important fundamentals of English grammar, including tenses, prepositions, conditionals and much more!



Practice                                                                                                                                                                                 

Task 1: Read the text below and complete the following steps.

  • How many sentences are there? (look for periods)

  • How many clauses are in each sentence?  (look for combinations of “noun + base form verb” inside each sentence)

  • What are the conjunctions connecting each pair of clauses in a sentence?


  1. Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two years, you are probably aware of the COVID pandemic.

  2. Even if we cannot stay for the whole concert, I would like to get a ticket and see some of it, because there are a lot of famous bands performing.  I know that you don’t like jazz, so you don’t have to come if you don’t want to.

  3. Ice skating is a lot harder than it looks.  It requires balance and you need to keep moving or it’s likely that you’ll fall down.

Task 2: Find where a conjunction is needed to connect clauses together in the three sentences below.  Then, add one of the options below to link the clauses together:

but, which, as, so, because, and

  1. Originally I didn’t want to get a dog, they leave fur everywhere, as soon as my roommate brought our dog home for the first time, I fell in love.

  2. The price of housing has been increasing for several years, is a problem because many young adults cannot buy a home, they are still living with their parents.

  3. I believe people are more divided politically now than ever, I blame social media for this problem, platforms like social media provide opportunities for extreme political groups to spread lies and hatred easily.

Answers                                                                                                                                                                                

Task 1:

  1. 1 sentence / 2 clauses with 1 conjunction "unless"

  2. 2 sentences / sentence #1 = 3 clauses with 2 conjunctions "if" & "because" / sentence #2 = 4 clauses with 3 conjunctions "that", "so", & "if"

  3. Ice skating is a lot harder than it looks.  It requires balance and you need to keep moving or it’s likely that you’ll fall down. 2 sentences / sentence #1 = 2 clauses with 1 conjunction "than" / sentence #2 = 4 clauses with 3 conjunctions "and", "or", "that".

Task 2:

  1. Originally I didn’t want to get a dog, because/as they leave fur everywhere, but as soon as my roommate brought our dog home for the first time, I fell in love.

  2. The price of housing has been increasing for several years, which is a problem because many young adults cannot buy a home, so they are still living with their parents.

  3. I believe people are more divided politically now than ever, and I blame social media for this problem, because/as platforms like social media provide opportunities for extreme political groups to spread lies and hatred easily.

Table of Conjunctions

Reasons

(happens earlier

as a cause)

because

since

as

He got fired because he lied to his manager

He got fired since he lied to his manager

He got fired as he lied to his manager

Result/Effect

(happens later

as a result)

so

He lied to his manager, so he got fired.

Time

while

when

once

as soon as

after

before

until

since

I’ll call you while I’m driving home.

I’ll call you when my meeting ends.

I’ll call you once my meeting ends.

I’ll call you as soon as my meeting ends.

I’ll call you after my meeting ends.

I’ll call you before I get on the plane.

I’m going to wait here until they arrive.

I’ve working for this company since I graduated university

Conditions

(something required to happen first to get a result)

if

(even) if

(as long) as

(provided) that

unless

The event will be cancelled if the weather is bad.

The event won’t be cancelled even if the weather is bad.

The event won’t be cancelled as long as the weather is good.

The event won’t be cancelled provided that the weather is good.

The event won’t be cancelled unless the weather is bad.

Contrast

(opposite)

although

while

even though

Although jellyfish look cute, they are actually quite dangerous.

While jellyfish look beautiful, they are actually quite dangerous.

Even though jellyfish look beautiful they are actually quite dangerous.

Comparisons

while

whereas

than

(as +) as

While baseball has nine players, basketball only has five.

Baseball has nine players, whereas basketball has only five.

Baseball has more players than basketball.  (use “than” with comparative adjectives)

Basketball doesn’t have as many players as baseball does.

After Verbs of Speaking, Thinking & Feeling

that

The company announced that there will be a meeting.

He mentioned that everyone will attend the meeting.

I hope that it’s a good meeting.  I think (that) it will be.

Adjective Clauses

that

which

who

I need an apartment that has big windows.  (“that” means apartment)

I wrote the IELTS exam, which was quite challenging.  (“which” means “the IELTS exam”)

On the bus, I saw a guy who I went to high school with (“who” means this guy)

Noun Clauses

what

where

when

why

how

I don’t what I should do (something)

The invitation doesn’t say where the party will be (at some place)

I remember when we surprised her for her birthday (at some time)

Nobody knows why they left so suddenly (for some reason).

 

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