Correct Usage of Conjunctions
Connecting Words, Phrases, and Clauses
Aug 17, 2009 Carol Rzadkiewicz
There are four types of conjunctions, but in order to use them correctly, writers must first understand the role each type plays within the structure of a sentence.
There are eight parts of speech, one of which is the conjunction; and as the word “conjunction” implies, this part of speech acts as a “connector,” linking words, phrases, and clauses. Moreover, there are four categories of conjunctions, and each category establishes a specific relationship between items in a sentence.
The seven coordinating conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so; and they’re used to connect words, clauses, or phrases of equal grammatical weight. For example, they might be used to connect two or more nouns, verbal phrases, independent clauses, prepositional phrases, etc. They also establish certain relationships:
• And = means addition
• Or = establishes positive choice
• But = means contrast
• Nor = establishes negative choice
• Yet = shows contrast
• So = shows results
• For = shows reason
1. Tom and Sue got married on April Fools Day. (Two nouns)
2. Tom had written the first draft of his novel but thrown it in the trash. (Two verbs)
3. Tom wanted to devote all his time to writing, so Sue worked two full-time jobs. (Two clauses)
4. Watching Sue splash through the rain to her car, Tom said, “Now, to watch football or not to watch football, that is the question.” (Two infinitive phrases)
5. Tom jotted down plot ideas on his shirtsleeves, on the throw pillows, and on the arms of the sofa. (Three prepositional phrases)
Correlative conjunctions work together in pairs, and there are four of these conjunctive duos: either—or, neither—nor, both—and, not only—but also.