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Definition: Words or phrases that are used to introduce an idea relating to what has been said in the preceding sentence or sentences are called sentence connectors or conjunctions. They always refer to an idea expressed already. Thus, they establish a logical connection between two ideas.  A sentence connector without a preceding sentence or phrase becomes meaningless.

Example: Hari and Rakesh are good players. (Note: and is the word that is connecting two words)

Conjunctions join sentences together and often make them more compact; thus, instead of writing a long sentence ‘Hari is a good player and Rakesh is a good player’, we write the same in a short and more meaningful way, i.e. ‘Hari and Rakesh are good players’

Read the following sentences:

  1. Four and three make seven.

  2. Raj went to school but Aditya stayed at home.

  3. We can read as well as write.

  4. I am very strong though I am old.

In the above sentences the words in italics and, but, as well as, though join words together. These words are called Conjunctions.

⇒ Sometimes, however, the Conjunction and joins words only. For example, 

Four and three make seven.

Raj and Aditya are brothers.

Raj and Aditya came home together.

Such sentences cannot be resolved in two sentences.

We need to use Conjunctions very carefully as they are quite similar to Relative Pronouns, Relative Adverbs and Prepositions, which are also connecting words. 

 Relative Pronouns: who, whose, whom, which, that.

 Relative Adverbs: when, where, why, how.

 Prepositions: in, at, to, on, with, etc. 

I know the boy who admires you. ‘Who’ is a Relative Pronoun. It joins two sentences: ‘I know the boy’ and ‘the boy admires you.’ It refers to the noun boy.

I know the house where the boy lives. ‘Where’ is a Relative Adverb. It joins two sentences: ‘I know the house’ and ‘In that house, the boy lives’. It does the work of modifying the verb ‘lives’.

Take this and give that. And is a conjunction and simply joins the two parts of the sentence; it does not do other work like a Relative Pronoun and Relative Adverb.  

Observe that a Preposition also joins two words but it does more; it governs a noun or a pronoun as,

She sat beside Radha. She stood behind me. 

Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative Conjunctions are the conjunction words that connect equal sentence elements together (like two nouns) and are always composed of two words. 

Either – or He is either a good singer or an excellent singer. 

Neither – nor He draws neither neatly nor properly.

Both – and We both love and respect her.

Whether – or I have to go whether I like it or not. 

Not only – but also The boy is not only very healthy but also very happy. 

When Correlative conjunctions join two sentences, the structure after each of the correlated words should be the same.

Compound Conjunctions

Some compound expressions or phrases can be used as Conjunctions; these are called Compound Conjunctions.

In order that.   The news was published in order that all students might know.

Provided that. I will rent you the flat provided that you do not cook meat.

On condition that. I will forgive you on the condition that you do not repeat this mistake.

As soon as. He took off his coat as soon as he returned home. 

Classes of Conjunction

Conjunctions are divided into two classes according to their functions:

  1. Coordinative Conjunctions

  2. Subordinative Conjunctions

A Coordinative Conjunction joins together words, phrases or clauses of equal rank or importance. 

Ex: Molly sang and Polly danced. The sentence contains two independent statements or two statements of equal rank or importance and none is dependent on the other for its meaning. So and in the sentence does the work of a Coordinative Conjunction. The important Coordinating Conjunctions are: and, but, for, or, nor, also, either….or, neither….nor.

Coordinating Conjunctions are of four kinds:

a. Cumulatives or Copulatives are those that merely add or connect one sentence or word to another.

Ex: He is guilty and his sister also.

Mohan as well as you are successful.

b. Adversatives are those, which express the contrast between two sentences.

Ex: He is wise but his brother is foolish. 

He was all right; only he was tired.

c. Disjunctives or Alternatives are those, which express a choice between two statements. 

Ex: He is either a fool or a rogue.

Walk fast else you will not overtake him.

d. Illatives are those by which one statement or fact is proved or inferred from another.

Ex: Something certainly fell in for I heard a splash. 

Work Hard, for no one can succeed without hard work.

Subordinative Conjunctions joins a clause to another clause where one clause (subordinate clause) is dependent on another clause (principal clause) for its full meaning.

Ex: He said that he was ill. In this sentence, ‘That he was ill’ depends on ‘He said’ for its full meaning. Independently ‘That he was ill’ has no sense.

The important Subordinative Conjunctions are: After, before, when, where, why, how, till, unless, etc.

Subordinative Conjunctions are classified according to their meanings, as follows:

a. Time: after, before, since, as soon as, while, until, as, so long as, if, whether, on condition.

Ex: I would die before I lied.

I returned home after he had gone.

b. Purpose: in order that, lest, so that, that.

Ex: We eat so that we may live.

He held my hand lest I could fall. 

c. Cause: because, since, as.

Ex: Since you wished it, it shall be done.

He may enter, as he is a friend.

d. Condition: provided or provided that, supposing, unless, as, if whether, on condition.

Ex: Balu will go if Vinay goes.

Grievances cannot be redressed unless they are known.

e. Result or Effect: so…that

Ex: He was so tired that he could hardly stand.

f. Comparison: than, no less than, as…as, as much as.

Ex: He is stronger than Hari.

g. Manner: as, so far as, according to, as if.

Ex: According to Ram, Hari is not coming to school.

h. Concession or Contrast: though, although, however, notwithstanding, as, even if, whatever, whichever.

Ex: A book is a book, although there is nothing in it. 

Solved Example

Fill in the blanks with appropriate conjunctions from the options given.

  1. Work regularly, ____________ you cannot prosper.  

(i) otherwise (ii) so (iii) and (iv) therefore

  1. They said the movie was fantastic, ____________ I watched it.

(i) and (ii) but (iii) so (iv) for

  1. ________ you _________ he will have to do this job.

(i) both … and (ii) either … or (iii) neither … nor (iv) none of these

  1. I have met ________ his brother __________ his father.

(i) either … or (ii) neither … nor (iii) whether … or (iv) none of these

  1. She had not prepared herself for the test, ________ she sat for it.

(i) therefore (ii) otherwise (iii) nevertheless (iv) and

Ans. a) otherwise

         b) so

         c) either … or

         d) neither … nor

        e) nevertheless

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. What is a Conjunction?

Ans. The conjunction is a word or a phrase that joins together words or phrases or parts of sentences.

Q2. What are the two kinds of Conjunction?

Ans. The two kinds of Conjunctions are Coordinative Conjunction and Subordinative Conjunction.

Q3. What are the kinds of Subordinative Conjunction?

Ans. The kinds of Subordinative Conjunction are Time, Purpose, Cause, Condition, Result, Comparison, Manner, and Concession.