English Grammar Conjunction Rules and Uses

What is a Conjunction?
A conjunction is a part of speech that is used to connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences.

There are mainly two types of conjunctions – coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions.

1. Coordinating Conjunctions
A coordinating conjunction connects elements of the same kind.
Commonly used Conjunctions List: and, or, but, for, therefore, yet, etc.
Examples:

It stands on the hill and overlooks the plain.
I say this but she says that.
That coat cannot be mine, for it is too big for me.
This must not happen again, or you will be dismissed.
He is rich, yet he is not happy.
2. Subordinating Conjunctions
A subordinating conjunction connects a subordinate clause to the main clause.
Commonly used Conjunctions List: when, while, where, though, although, till, before, unless, as, after, because, if, that, since, etc.
Examples:

Since it stands on the hill it overlooks the plain.
Although I say this she says that.
When Gawain saw the Green Knight he did not show that he was afraid.
We were happy when we received the first prize.
She began to cry because she had lost her golden chain.
Important Rules and Uses of Conjunction
1. ‘Since‘ as conjunction means:
A) From and after the time when.
For example:

Many things have happened since I left the school.
I have never seen him since that unfortunate event happened.
B) Seeing that (considering the fact that)
For example:

Since you wish it, it shall be done.
Since that is the case, I shall excuse you.
2. ‘Or‘ is used:
A) To introduce an alternative.
For example:

You must work or starve.
You may take this book or that one.
He may study law or medicine or engineering or he may enter into trade.
B) To introduce an alternative name or synonym.
For example:

The violin or fiddle has become the leading instrument of the modern orchestra.
C) To mean otherwise.
For example:

We must hasten or night will overtake us.
3. ‘If‘ is used to mean:
A) On the condition or supposition that.
For example:

If he is here, I shall see him.
If I had a million dollars, I’d be content.
B) Admitting that.
For example:

If I am blunt, I am at least honest.
C) Whether
For example:

I asked him if he would help me.
D) Whenever
For example:

If I feel any doubt I enquire.
4. ‘That‘ is used:
A) To express a reason or cause.
For example:

Not that I loved Caesar less but that I loved Rome more.
He was annoyed that he was contradicted.
B) To express a purpose and is equivalent to in order that.
For example:

He kept quiet that the dispute might cease.
C) To express a consequence, result, or effect.
For example:

He bled so profusely that he died
5. Lest
‘Lest‘ is used to express a negative purpose and is equivalent to ‘in order that… not’, ‘for fear that’.
For example:

He lied lest he should be killed.
I was alarmed lest we should be wrecked.
6. ‘While‘ is used to mean:
A) During that time, as long as
For example:

While there is life there is hope.
B) At the same time that.
For example:

While he found fault, he also praised.
7. Only
‘Only’ means except that, but, were it not that:
For example:

A very pretty woman, only she squints a little.
The day is pleasant, only rather cold.
8. After, before, as soon as, until
The conjunctions ‘after‘, ‘before‘, ‘as soon as‘, ‘until‘ are not followed by a clause in the future tense. Present Simple or Present Perfect tense is used to express a future event.
For example:

I will phone you after I arrive here.
I will phone you after I have arrived here.
9. As if
‘As if‘ used in the sense of presence and express the unreal behavior of a person. It would be is generally followed by a subject + were + complement.
For example:

He loves you as if you were his own child.
Sometimes she weeps and sometimes she laughs as if she were mad.
The clause that begins with as if should be put into the past simple tense, if the preceding clause expresses a past action. But if it expresses a past action it should be followed by the past perfect tense.
For example:

He behaves as if he were a lord.
He behaved as if he had been a lord
10. As long as and Until
While ‘as long as’ is used to express time in sense of how long, ‘Until‘ is used to express time in sense of before.
For example:

Until you work hard you will improve. (Incorrect)
As long as you work hard you will improve. (Correct)
He learnt little as long as he was 15 years old. (Incorrect)
He learnt little until he was 15 years old. (Correct)
11. No sooner
‘No sooner‘ should be followed by verb + subject, and ‘than’ should begin another clause.
For example:

No sooner had I reached the station than the train left.
No sooner did the bell ring than all the students rushed in.
12. As well as
When ‘as well as‘ is used, the finite verb should agree in number and person with the first subject.
For example:

He as well as us is innocent.
‘As well as‘ should never be used in place of ‘and‘, if the first subject is preceded by the word ‘both’.
For example:

Both Rani as well as Kajol came. (Incorrect)
Both Rani and Kajol came. (Correct)
13. Because, Since and for
‘Because‘ is generally used when the reason is the most important part of a sentence.
For example:

Some people like him because he is honest and hard-working.
‘Since‘ is used when the reason is already known or is less important than the chief statement.
For example:

Since you refuse to cooperate, I shall have to take legal steps.
‘For‘ is used when the reason given is an afterthought.
For example:

The servant must have opened the box, for no one else had the key.
‘For’ never comes at the beginning of the sentence and ‘for’ is always preceded by a comma.

14. Scarcely
‘Scarcely‘ should be followed by ‘when’ and not by ‘than.’
For example:

Scarcely had he arrived than he had to leave again. (Incorrect)
Scarcely had he arrived when he had to leave again. (Correct)
15. Either.. or and neither.. nor
Conjunctions such as either.. or, neither.. nor, not only.. but also, both.. and, whether, or etc. always join two words or phrases belonging to the same parts of speech.
For example:

Either he will ask me or you. (Incorrect)
He will ask either me or you. (Correct)
Neither he reads nor write English (Incorrect)
He neither reads nor writes English. (Correct)
Either you shall have to go home or stay here. (Incorrect)
You shall have either to go home or stay here. (Correct)
He neither agreed to my proposal nor to his. (Incorrect)
He agreed neither to my proposal nor to his. (Correct)
16. Although
‘Although‘ goes with ‘yet’ or a comma in the other clause.
For example:

Although Manohar is hardworking but he does not get a job. (Incorrect)
Although Manohar is hardworking, yet he does not get a job. (Correct)
17. Nothing else
‘Nothing else‘ should be followed by ‘but’ not by ‘than’.
For example:

Mr. Bureaucrat! This is nothing else than red-tapism. (Incorrect)
Mr. Bureaucrat! This is nothing else but red-tapism. (Correct)
18. Indeed… but
The correlative conjunctions ‘indeed… but‘ are used to emphasise the contrast between the first and the second parts of the statement.
For example:

I am indeed happy with my school but it produces famous men. (Incorrect)
I am indeed happy with my school but it does not produce famous men. (Correct)
I am indeed happy with my school that it produces famous men. (Correct)
19. Not only… but also
In a ‘not only … but also‘ sentence, the verb should agree with the noun or pronoun mentioned second, that is; the one after ‘but also’, because this is the part being emphasised.
For example:

Not only the students but also the teacher were responsible for what happened in the class. (Incorrect)
Not only the students but also the teacher was responsible for what happened in the class. (Correct)
20. Such.. as and such.. that
‘Such … as‘ is used to denote a category whereas ‘such … that‘ emphasises the degree of something by mentioning its consequence.
For example:

Each member of the alliance agrees to take such action that it deems necessary. (Incorrect)
Each member of the alliance agrees to take such action as it deems necessary. (Correct)
Here “it deems necessary” is not a consequence of “such action”. The sentence wants to imply that the action belongs to the category “as it deems necessary”. In other words, what kind of action? Such action as it deems necessary.
She looked at him in such distress as he had to look away. (Incorrect)
She looked at him in such distress that he had to look away. (Correct)
Here, “he had to look away” is a consequence of “she looked at him in such distress”. In other words, the degree of the distress of looking at him was such that (not as) he had to look away.

A conjunction is not used before an interrogative adverb or interrogative pronoun in the indirect narration.
For example:

He asked me that where I stayed. (Incorrect)
He asked me where I stayed. (Correct)

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