Coordinating Conjunctions Types & Examples

In English grammar, there are various parts of speech that are very necessary to form complete and meaningful sentences. While nouns and verbs are very common, conjunctions are also an important part of speech that we use regularly in every sentence.

Conjunctions are basically words that help us connect parts of sentences to form a single one. They are the type of words that join or link together with other words, phrases, or nouns in a sentence. They enable us to form complex and elegant sentences by avoiding short and clumsy ones.

However, there are various types of conjunctions. In this post, we will focus on the first and the most popular type, the coordinating conjunction. In a very general sense, coordinating conjunction can be understood as the words that join two equally important ideas together in a sentence. Coordinating conjunctions can further be divided into various types under which different conjunction words perform different coordinating functions. So, let us get into a detailed discussion below.

What are Coordinating Conjunctions?

Coordinating conjunction is a type of conjunction that is one among the various parts of speech in English grammar. The simple definition of coordinating conjunctions would be that they are the words that help join two other words that are of equal grammatical ranks and importance in a sentence.

Simply put, this type of conjunction joins the group of words that are of the same kind. For instance, they link a verb to verb, a subject to subject, a verb phrase to verb phrase, a noun to noun, etc. These are words that enable us to make long and complex sentences instead of making a series of short liners for every thought we want to convey.

After learning the definition, it becomes quite easy to realize what exactly we are talking about. Coordinating conjunctions are those typical words that usually come in the middle of a sentence with a comma preceding it. They are words like and, but, or, yet, for, nor, and so.

Let us quickly have a look at some examples to remove any confusion.

  • I left my keys and notes in the back seat of my car.
  • She was ready to come to the party, but her parents had to leave.
  • He is very popular, yet he is not satisfied.
  • I was coughing vigorously, so I wanted to have some hot water.
  • My best friend doesn’t smoke, nor does she drink.

As we can see, the bolded words above are connecting two parts of a sentence into a single one. And since they are connecting elements of the same kind, they are said to be coordinating conjunctions.

Now, it is important to notice that each coordinating conjunction is linking two elements in different contexts. While they all aim to connect two parts, each of them functions under different conditions. This further can be studied as the types of coordinating conjunctions.

Types of coordinating conjunctions and their functions

Coordinating conjunctions can be broadly divided into four types. They are; cumulative coordinating conjunctions, adversative coordinating conjunctions, alternative coordinating conjunctions, and illative coordinating conjunctions.

1. Cumulative coordinating conjunction

Cumulative coordinating conjunctions refer to the words that join or link two non-contrasting elements. Simply put, they merely connect one statement to another. They are words like and, as well as, not only… but also, both….and, etc.

For example;

  • My parents cooked for me, and I cleaned the house.
  • The red team, as well as the blue team, were playing soccer yesterday.
  • I brought all the files and notes that you asked for.
  • She is not only a singer but also a dancer.

2. Adversative coordinating conjunctions

Adversative coordinating conjunctions are the connecting words that link two contrasting objects or ideas together in a sentence. That means they try to express the opposition between the two statements. They are words like but, still, yet, while, nevertheless, etc.

For example;

  • My cat is huge, but she is very weak inside.
  • My friends are rich, but they don’t brag about it.
  • He is an intelligent student, yet his parents are unhappy with his performance.
  • The rope was very thick, but it was not so strong.

3. Alternative coordinating conjunctions

Alternative coordinating conjunction is a type of coordinating conjunction that connects or links two alternatives. That means these words try to present two elements of alternate expressions, often indicating a choice between them. They are words like or, otherwise, either…or, neither…nor, etc.

For example;

  • You should listen to the teacher’s instructions or leave.
  • I have to complete all the assignments, otherwise, I will lose marks.
  • He didn’t study, neither did he bring his notes.
  • You can have chicken or vegetarian dishes.

4. Illative coordinating conjunctions

Illative coordinating conjunctions are the words that present elements as a consequence or result of an action. That means these words try to connect words to express an inference. They are words like so and for.

For example;

  • He is a very hardworking person, so he will definitely pass.
  • She must have slept early, for her phone says switched off.
  • He was feeling dizzy, for he saw blood in the hospital.
  • I could not rest last night, so I’m very sleepy right now.

These are the four basic types of coordinating conjunctions. All of them try to link words in a sentence and produce a complete one under different circumstances.

Some basic rules of coordinating conjunction

Let us quickly have a look at some of the basic rules that we need to follow while using coordinating conjunction:

  • When we use a coordinating conjunction to connect two independent clauses, we always use a comma before the conjunction.
  • While using a coordinating conjunction to join two individual words or phrases, we never use a comma.
  • When a coordinating conjunction is used to connect more than two phrases, it becomes optional to use a comma.

So, we have coordinating conjunctions that are popularly seen in almost every sentence. They simply try to connect two parts of the same kind together to give us a concrete and meaningful sentence.


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