Coordinating Conjunction


A coordinating conjunction connects words, phrases, or groups of words in a sentence. The words or phrases being connected should be equal or similar.

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For example, the word and is a coordinating conjunction.

Example sentences with "and":

  • We are hungry and thirsty.
  • He asked us to clean our rooms and wash the dishes.
  • John works as a teacher and Beth works as a nurse.
  • The mailman is running away and the dog is chasing him.
Mailman

There are seven coordinating conjunctions in the English language.

An easy way to remember the coordinating conjunctions is to remember FANBOYS.

F = for
A = and
N = nor
B = but
O = or
Y = yet
S = so

Coordinating conjunctions always go between the words or phrases that they are connecting.

In the examples below, the equal parts of the sentences that are being joined are underlined. The coordinating conjunction is bold.

Examples:

I will be late to the party, for I am working until seven.

Tom likes to read and write.

Sally does not like the mountains, nor does she like the ocean.

I wanted to ride my bike, but the tire was flat.

Fred wants peas or carrots for supper.

I love chocolate, yet I do not eat chocolate ice cream.

She was late to work, so her boss made her stay after five.

Late

Rules for using a coordinating conjunction

1. Put a comma before the coordinating conjunction when it is used to connect two independent clauses.

A clause is a group of words the contain a subject and a verb.

An independent clause (or main clause) expresses a complete thought. It can stand alone as a sentence. For example, "I like apples."

(A dependent clause does not express a complete thought. It cannot stand alone as a sentence. For example, "that I saw last month.")

Examples of independent clauses:
  • Tom walked the dog.

    Subject = Tom
    Verb = walked

    "Tom walked the dog" is an independent clause.

  • Tom grabbed the mail.

    Subject = Tom
    Verb = grabbed

    "Tom grabbed the mail" is also an independent clause.
These two independent clauses can be combined with a coordinating conjunction. When we combine these two sentences, the second "Tom" will be changed to "he."

Examples:
  • Tom walked the dog, so he grabbed the mail.
    OR
    Tom walked the dog, and he grabbed the mail.
Both parts of the sentence have a subject and verb (before and after the coordinating conjunction).

Here are a few more examples of coordinating conjunctions connecting independent clauses.

Incorrect: I want to go see a movie but my sister has my car.

Correct: I want to go see a movie, but my sister has my car.

Incorrect: Lisa loves cats yet she does not want one living in her house.

Correct: Lisa loves cats, yet she does not want one living in her house.

Cat

2. When using a coordinating conjunction to connect two items, do not use a comma.

In the example above with Tom and his dog, we can leave out the comma if we do not have two independent clauses. We do this by leaving out the subject in the second part of the sentence (he).

Example:
  • Tom walked the dog and grabbed the mail.
    ("Tom walked the dog" is an independent clause, but "grabbed the mail" is not.)
Here are a few more examples of how to use a coordinating conjunction to connect two items that are not independent clauses.

Incorrect: She likes apples, and bananas.

Correct: She likes apples and bananas.

Incorrect: My brother is young, but smart.

Correct: My brother is young but smart.

Brothers

3. When using a coordinating conjunction with a list of items (three or more in number), the comma before the coordinating conjunction is optional.

You should put or leave out the comma before the coordinating conjunction based on the style guide you are using.

Example with comma:
  • She is cooking chicken, potatoes, corn, and carrot.

Example without comma:
  • She is cooking chicken, potatoes, corn and carrot. 

These were the uses of the coordinating conjunction. Now do this illustrated worksheet on coordinating conjunctions.

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