Subordinating Conjunctions Types & Examples

In English grammar, we use various parts of speech and elements to form complete and meaningful sentences. And among the parts of speech, nouns, verbs, and adjectives are the commonly known and important ones. However, we have one more equally important part, the conjunctions.

Conjunctions are defined as words that mainly join two clauses or parts of sentences together to form a single concrete one. They help us avoid making a series of short sentences and create a complex one. These conjunction words can be studied into three types that function in different ways. In this post, we will learn the second most common type of conjunctions known as the subordinating conjunction.

Subordinating conjunctions are basically the conjunction words that present the subordinate clause in a sentence. They add the informative part of the sentence and make it a complete one. However, there are specific rules and types of subordinating clauses that need strict attention. Let us discuss them below.

What are Subordinating Conjunctions?

Subordinating conjunctions are one of the three types of conjunctions in English grammar. It can be defined as the conjunction words that link a dependent clause to an independent clause. Thus, the dependent clauses in such sentences are very commonly known as subordinate clauses.

Simply put, subordinate conjunctions are the type of linking words that introduce a dependent clause in a sentence, which basically works as an informational part of the sentences. That means they try to add extra meaning or modify the main clause with added information.

What is a Dependent Clause?

A dependent clause in English grammar is a type of sentence that has a subject-verb agreement but does not provide a complete meaning on its own. They are always reliant on the main or independent clause to make sense and give a valid message. So, when a dependent clause is presented by a word in a sentence, that word is said to be the subordinating conjunction, and the clause is called the subordinate clause.

Subordinate conjunctions are words like although, because, before, after, even if, if, while, etc. Now, let us look at some examples.

  • I’ll talk to you after my meeting ends.
  • She was home early because she had to leave for her party.
  • My family is having a hard time while I am here doing nothing.
  • Although I have been here before, it feels so new and fresh.
  • The teacher doesn’t care what you do as long as you complete your homework on time.
  • I want to finish my official work before I leave for dinner.

Here, all the bolded words join a dependent clause to an independent one. They help make the sentence complete. Hence, they are called the subordinating conjunctions.

However, it is to notice that each conjunction links two clauses under different contexts. This further can be studied as the different types of subordinating conjunctions.

Types of Subordinating Conjunctions

The subordinating conjunctions can connect an independent clause to a dependent clause in different terms. They are categorized by meaning as,

1. Subordinating Conjunction of Time

This is a type of subordinating conjunction that links a dependent clause to an independent one by showing time relation. That means it tells the time of the action in the main clause, and the subordinate clause brings in the time relation.

They are words like; after, as soon as, before, while, since, by the time, etc.

  • I will leave after I complete my work.
  • We will walk as soon as the teachers signal us.

2. Subordinating Conjunction of Place

This type of conjunction simply talks about where the action in the main clause takes place. That means they connect the dependent clause to the independent one and establish a place relation.

They are words like; wherever, where, everywhere

  • You can stop and rest wherever you feel like.
  • He is staying where his friends live.

3. Subordinating Conjunctions of Reason

This is the type that shows a cause and effect relation between two clauses. They tell us why an action occurred in the main clause.

They are words like; because, since, so that, in order that, etc.

  • He couldn’t join us because his parents didn’t allow him.
  • Since you were late, the teacher was unhappy.

4. Subordinating Conjunctions of Manner

This type basically tries to introduce a dependant clause that tells in what manner the main clause takes place.

They are words like; as, as though, like, as if, etc.

  • She orders me as if she is my boss.
  • He was walking like a monkey.

5. Subordinating Conjunctions of Condition

This is basically the type that tries to indicate the condition of the occurrence of the independent clause.

They are words like; if, only if, assuming, provided that, etc.

  • I will get a phone if I secure good marks.
  • The teacher will treat us provided that we perform well in the orientation.

6. Subordinating conjunctions of concession

This is the type that tries to introduce a subordinate clause with the intention to show that an action in the main clause happens in spite of something else, like an obstacle or hindrance.

They are words like; although, even though, though

  • Although I was tired, I went to the party.
  • The teacher was screaming though the class was silent.

7. Subordinating Conjunction of Comparison

This is the type of conjunction that links an independent clause to a dependent clause and compares one with the other.

They are words like; as…as, than, just as

  • She is not as good as you at dancing.
  • I know her better than you do.

Subordinate Conjunction vs Relative Pronouns

Now, many people confuse the use of relative pronouns and subordinate conjunctions. It is important to learn that though they look alike, they function differently.

Relative pronouns are words like who, which, that, etc. They are different from subordinate conjunctions because they act as the subject of the dependent clause. But on the other hand, subordinate conjunctions do not try to act as the subject of the dependent clause, nor do they refer to the subject of the main clause.

For example;

  • The teacher was mad at me even though I completed my work. (Subordinate conjunction)
  • He went to London, which is the best place to study. (Relative pronoun)

So, we have subordinate conjunctions that act as the words that link an independent clause to a dependent one. While different words relate clauses in different terms, they all aim to introduce a subordinate clause.

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