Coordinating Conjunctions Header Image

Knowing how to use conjunctions can expand your English communication to a whole new level. Conjunctions are the part of speech that lets you connect two or more thoughts together (such as and and or).

To communicate clearly and precisely, it’s important that you understand the different types of conjunctions and the rules for using them.

Types of Conjunctions

The following different types of conjunctions have specific functions: 

  • Coordinating conjunctions – These join two clauses or ideas of equal importance in terms of grammar and syntax. 
  • Subordinating conjunctions – These connect two clauses of unequal rank, one clause being dependent on another 

What Are the 7 Coordinating Conjunctions? 

The good thing about coordinating conjunctions is that you can easily memorize them, using the acronym FANBOYS:

For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, and So. 

Out of these seven, the word so can function either as a coordinating conjunction or a subordinating conjunction, depending on the usage: 

  • The baby was crying, so she stopped what she was doing and picked him up. (Coordinating Conjunction Usage)

In the example above, the word so connects two independent clauses, and it means something similar to therefore. 

Contrast it with the following example: 

  • David is doing plenty of odd jobs so he can buy more lovebirds. (Subordinating Conjunction Usage)

In this example, the word so connects two clauses, wherein “he can buy more lovebirds” is dependent on “David is doing plenty of odd jobs.” The word so functions more like so that. 

How to Use Coordinating Conjunctions 

Coordinating conjunctions can be used to join verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, phrases, and clauses, as you’ll see in the examples below:

Joining two or more verbs

  • The dog barked and chased me down the road.
  • The little boy jumped and danced around the room.
  • They chopped and diced the vegetables for their mom.  

Joining two or more nouns

  • Would you like coffee, tea, or orange juice? 
  • She went to Paris, Italy, and Germany in that one trip. 
  • All the hospitals and clinics are all filled up. 

Joining two adjectives

  • The old cottage was dilapidated but obviously well-loved in its day. 
  • The dog is friendly to babies yet fierce to trespassers. 
  • This book is very entertaining and insightful. 

Joining two adverbs

  • Speak clearly and concisely. 
  • The teacher trained her students to write carefully and beautifully. 
  • The waves crashed loudly and angrily against the shore. 

Joining two phrases 

  • He put his head on the pillow and fell asleep right away. 
  • The horse raised its neck and whinnied in fear. 
  • The storm raged strong, but the police continued their search for the missing boy. 

Joining two clauses

  • The sun was shining, but he brought an umbrella anyway. 
  • The Woodlawn High School Football Team made it to the championships, yet they befriended their rivals, the Banks Jets. 
  • It was an emotional night, but the coach stood off to the side, hard-hearted as ever. 

Can You Start a Sentence with a Coordinating Conjunction? 

In high school, you were probably taught that you should never start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction. But in reality, when you are writing in paragraphs, it’s perfectly fine—go back to the start of this sentence, and you’ll see I started it with “But”! 

A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t start a stand-alone sentence with a coordinating conjunction, but if it continues a thought from a previous sentence, you can do so. 

Conjunctive Adverbs 

In addition to the FANBOYS, other words can also connect phrases and clauses, such as: 

  • however
  • nevertheless
  • moreover
  • meanwhile
  • furthermore

These words function in a way similar to coordinating conjunctions, but they are known as “conjunctive adverbs” because they connect phrases and clauses in a way that shows cause and effect, sequence, or other relationships. 

Coordinating Conjunctions Quiz 

Test your knowledge with this free Coordinating Conjunctions Quiz PDF download. Circle the coordinating conjunctions in the sentences below. You may circle more than one per sentence. 

  1. The boys and girls all ran out to play 
  2. Rain or shine, we’re going on that picnic!
  3. Somebody or other needs to see to the repair of the car. 
  4. The exam was long and difficult, but I think I passed. 
  5. The bike swerved and tumbled over the sidewalk. 
  6. It rained, so the wedding reception was moved indoors. 
  7. Ted was rocking in the chair and Mina was by the fireside. 
  8. The train stops at Elderberry St., Peabody Avenue, and Main Street. 
  9. The library is a good source for books and documentaries. 
  10. His book came out in paperback, hardback, and ebook formats. 
  11. He liked her, but her family stood in the way. 
  12. She wanted to go to the farm, yet her heart was also calling her to stay in the city. 
  13. “I am dark yet lovely,” said the Shulammite shepherdess. 
  14. Why can’t you man up and own up to your responsibilities? 
  15. Can you get me some eggs, butter, and milk on your way home? 

Answer Key

  1. The boys and girls all ran out to play. 
  2. Rain or shine, we’re going on that picnic!
  3. Somebody or other needs to see to the repair of the car. 
  4. The exam was long and difficult, but I think I passed. 
  5. The bike swerved and tumbled over the sidewalk. 
  6. It rained, so the wedding reception was moved indoors. 
  7. Ted was rocking in the chair and Mina was by the fireside when Peter arrived. 
  8. The train stops at Elderberry St., Peabody Avenue, and Main Street. 
  9. The library is a good source for books and documentaries. 
  10. His book came out in paperback, hardback, and ebook formats. 
  11. He liked her, but her family stood in the way. 
  12. She wanted to go to the farm, yet her heart was also calling her to stay in the city. 
  13. “I am dark yet lovely,” said the Shulammite shepherdess. 
  14. Why can’t you man up and own up to your responsibilities? 
  15. Can you get me some eggs, butter, and milk on your way home? 

Using Coordinating Conjunctions 

More likely than not, you already use coordinating conjunctions extensively in your speech and writing. But if you need help identifying them, start by memorizing the acronym FANBOYS, and you’ll start to see each of them in sentences you read. 

This will help you learn to write more effective and well-structured sentences, so you can connect ideas and clearly communicate your points.

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