Conjunctions are linking words like and, or, but, then and because:
They knocked down all the houses and they built a car park.
Are there four or five people living in that house?
My shoes look great but are not very comfortable.
And, but, either … or, etc. (coordinating conjunctions)
Coordinating conjunctions connect items which are the same grammatical type, e.g. words, phrases, clauses. The most common coordinating conjunctions are and, or, but.
Which do you prefer? [word]Redor[word]blue?
The meal was [phrase]very expensiveand[phrase]not very nice.
[clause]There are seats outsidebut[clause]some people don’t like sitting outdoors.
My grandmother’s name was Wall. But she became Jenkins when she got married to my grandfather. (In very formal writing, we don’t normally start a sentence with but.)
[prefix]Pro-and[prefix]anti-government supporters waited outside the parliament.
Some coordinating conjunctions have two parts: either … or …, neither … nor …, both … and …:
You can drink chocolate milk either hot in the winter or cold in the summer.
Neither Lisa nor Helena had been to Italy before. (Lisa hadn’t been to Italy before and Helena hadn’t been to Italy before.)
Both you and I know what really happened. (You know and I know what happened.)
Apart from two-word conjunctions, we only use one conjunction to connect words or phrases:
Because my alarm didn’t go off, I was late for work.
Not: Because my alarm didn’t go off, so I was late for work.
After, although, as soon as, etc. (subordinating conjunctions)
Common subordinating conjunctions are: after, (al)though, as, before, if, since, that, until, when, whereas, while, once, so, as soon as, provided that. When a clause follows these conjunctions, it becomes a subordinate clause, which needs a main clause to make a complete sentence.
[subordinate clause]After we had talked on the phone, [main clause]I wrote down what we had decided.
[main clause]Everyone enjoyed the fishing trip[subordinate clause]although no one caught any fish!
[subordinate clause]Before we left at four o’clock, [main clause]we had something to eat.
When the subordinate clause comes before the main clause, we usually put a comma at the end of the clause. When the main clause comes first, we don’t need to use a comma.
Some subordinating conjunctions consist of more than one word: as long as, as soon as, except that, in order that, so as to, provided that:
As long as the waves are high enough, we can go surfing.
Provided that he pays a fine, he will not have to go to jail. (formal)
Conjunctions that can be modified by adverbs
Some subordinating conjunctions may be modified by adverbs (underlined). For example just when, ever since, only if, just as, simply because, right before:
The phone rang justwhen I’d gone to bed.
I have been afraid to swim in the sea eversince I was young.
Position of subordinating conjunctions
Words and phrases such as above all, anyway, as a result, as well, eventually, firstly, however, overall, rather, then, therefore, though, on the contrary (linking adjuncts) can create similar meanings to conjunctions (e.g. adding, cause and effect). These words are adverb phrases and can come in any position which an adverb can occupy:
He left home late. (As a result) he (as a result) didn’t arrive until 8 pm (as a result).
We cannot do this with subordinating conjunctions, which must come at the beginning of the clause. Subordinating conjunctions create a grammatical connection between two clauses, making one dependent on the other.
Subordinating conjunction so:
He couldn’t get money from the bank so he couldn’t buy a house.
These two sentences mean the same thing but they are connected differently:
So makes a subordinating link between the cause/reason (He couldn’t get money from the bank) and the result (he couldn’t buy a house). This is a grammatical link. The position of so cannot change.
Linking adjunct as a result:
He couldn’t get money from the bank. As a result he couldn’t buy a house.
As a result creates a link between two clauses based on meaning. We can move as a result (He couldn’t get money from the bank. He couldn’t buy a house as a result).