Conjunctions: an introduction

We’ve now finished our look at adverbs and move to a new part of speech, conjunctions. But before we continue, let’s just look back at what we’ve covered so far. We’ve looked at nouns, which can be thought of as containers of meaning, and pronouns, which substitute for nouns so that we don’t always have to repeat ourselves. We also looked at verbs, the action words that ‘drive’ the meaning of nouns. We then looked at adjectives, which add ‘colour’ to nouns, pronouns and adjectives by describing or modifying them, and we looked at adverbs, which perform a similar function for verbs, adjectives and other adverbs.

Conjunctions – along with another part of speech, prepositions – are joining words. They join sentences, or meaningful groups of nouns and verbs, together to make longer sentences or to provide more detailed meaning. In the same way that a road junction enables us to change the direction of our travel by going in a different direction by joining a different road, conjunctions enable us to explore additional or related meaning.

In the same way that several roads join at Camberwell Junction, conjuctions allow us to join sentences together

Conjunctions are like pronouns and different from nouns and verbs in that they are made up of a small, specific group of words. Depending on how you count them, there are around 30 conjunctions in English. They include words such as and, or, but, yet, since, although, because, until and while. Some conjunctions are made up of more than one word, such not only . . . but also, as much as and neither . . . nor.

There are three types of conjunctions: coordinating, subordinating  and correlative, and we look at these in turn over the next few weeks.

I went to stress – and I cannot stress this enough – conjunctions are different from conjunctive adverbs. Conjunctions join sentences; conjunctive adverbs, as I have explained elsewhere, create needless waffle.

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Image: Camberwell Junction by kind permission of Fitzroys (property agents)

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