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In this blog we will learn a very interesting topic of English Grammar i.e. CONJUNCTIONS.

Let’s begin with some examples:

  • God made the country and man -made the town.
  • She must weep, or she will die.
  • Two and two make four.

In 1 and 2 we can see the conjunctions join together two sentences.

In 3 we can see the conjunctions join together two words only.

So by this we can say that, A Conjunction is a word which merely joins together two sentences and sometimes words.

Or we can say, it is word which joins two sentences, words or phrases with each other in a professional way.

As a part of speech, Conjunctions are important in conveying the whole thought of the spoken or written language. The importance of conjunctions lies in the fact that they make any sentence sensible and comprehensible.

It is very important that Conjunctions must be carefully distinguished from Relative Pronouns, Relative Adverbs, and Prepositions, which are also connecting words.

For example:-

  • This is the house that Jack built. (Relative Pronoun)
  • This is the place where he was murdered. (Relative Adverb)
  • Take this and give that. (Conjunctions)

In sentence 1, we can see that the Relative Pronoun that refers to the noun house and also joins the two parts of the sentence.

In sentence 2, we can see that the Relative Adverb where modifies the verb was murdered and also joins the two parts of the sentence.

In sentence 3, we can see that the Conjunctions and simply joins the two parts of the sentence, it does no other work.

Conjunctions are known as connective or linking words. They join thoughts, actions and ideas, as well as clauses and phrases. Each of the three different types of conjunctions joins different parts of a sentence together. The main job of a conjunction is to link together different parts of a sentence to help you connect or emphasize ideas or actions. Conjunctions help you form more complex and interesting sentences and make your writing flow more smoothly.

Now, as we are aware about Conjunctions let’s move forward and have a look to Types of Conjunctions:

  1. Coordinating Conjunctions: Coordinating means of equal rank. a coordinating conjunction joins words, phrases or clauses which have similar grammatical structure. It is also called a coordinator.

The chief Coordinating Conjunctions are:  And, but, for, or, nor, also, either……or, neither……nor.

It joins, word + word; phrase + phrase; clause + clause.

For example:

  • He bought a book and a pen. (two words)
  • You may meet me at my home or at my office. (two phrases)
  • I waited for him but he didn’t come. (two clauses)

Coordinating Conjunctions are further divided into 4 kinds:

  • Cumulative or Copulative which merely add one statement to another.

For example:

  • We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone.
  • Adversative are the one which express opposition or contrast between two statements.

For example:

  • I was annoyed, still I kept quiet.
  • Disjunctive or Alternative are the one which express a choice between two alternatives.

For example:

  • Either he is mad, or he feigns madness.
  • Illative are the once which express an inference.

For example:

  • All precautions must have been neglected, for the plague spread rapidly.
  1. Subordinating Conjunctions: they are the one which joins a subordinate (dependent) clause to a main (independent) clause. The chief Subordinating Conjunctions are: After, because, if, that, though, till, before, unless, as, what, where, while.

It joins Main clause + Subordinate clause or Subordinate clause + Main clause.

A main clause is a group of words having a subject and a verb. A main clause can stand alone as a sentence because it can give complete meaning. On the other hand, the subordinate clause cannot stand alone as a sentence, as it does not give complete meaning. It depends on main clause to give complete meaning.

For example:

  • After the shower was over the sun shone out again.
  • He ran away because he was afraid.
  • I know not why he left us.

Usually Subordinating Conjunctions are classified according to their meanings as follows;

  • Time. I would die before I lied.

           Many things have happened since I saw you.

  • Cause or Reason. My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.
  • Purpose.  We eat so that we may live.
  • Comparison. He is stronger than Rustom.
  • Result or Consequence. He was so tired that he could scarcely stand.
  1. Correlative Conjunctions: they are paired words. It joins words, phrases or clauses having reciprocal or complementary relationship.

Some Conjunctions are used in pairs; such as,

  • Eithe .. or: Either take it or leave it.
  • Neither……nor: it is neither useful nor ornamental.
  • Not only ..but also: Not only he is foolish, but also obstinate.

As, we are clear about the types of conjunctions, let us have a look to some of the Conjunctions and their uses which will help us to learn them easily.

  1. Since: as a Conjunction, it apparently has 2 different meanings or we can say it can be used in 2 different ways;
  2. From and after the time when. 

For example:

  • Many things have happened since I left school.
  • I have never seen him since that incident.

Note: Since, when used as a Conjunction in this sense, should be preceded by a verb in the present perfect tense, and followed by a verb in the simple past tense.

  • Seeing that, in as much as. 

For example:-

  • Since you wish it, it shall be done.
  • Since that is the case, I shall excuse you.
  1. Or:  it is used in 3 different ways,
  2. To introduce an alternative. 

For example:

  • Your purse or your life.
  • You must work or starve.

Note: there may be several alternatives each joined to the preceding one by or, presenting a choice between any two in the series.

For example:

  • He may study law or medicine or engineering, or he may enter into trade.
  • To introduce an alternative name or synonym. 

For example:

  • The violin or fiddle has become the leading instrument of the modern orchestra.
  • To mean otherwise. 

For example:

  • We must hasten or night will overtake us.
  1. If: it is used in 4 different ways:
  2. On the condition or supposition that. 

For example:

  • If he is there, I shall see him.
  • Admitting that. 

For example:

  • If I am poor, yet I am honest.
  • Whether. 

For example:

  • I asked him if he would help me.
  •  Whenever. 

For example:

  • If I feel any doubt, I inquire

Note: it is also used to express wish or surprise. For example:

  • If I only knew.
  1. That: As, a conjunction, it retains much of its force as a Demonstrative Pronoun.

That is used in 3 different ways:

  • To express a Reason or cause, and is equivalent to because, for that, in that. For example:
  • He was annoyed that he was contradicted.
  • To express a Purpose, and is equivalent to in order that. For example:
  • We saw that we may reap.

Note:- In today’s time that is rarely used for reason or purpose.

  • To express a consequence, Result or Effect. For example:
  • I am so tired that I cannot go on.
  1. Because, for, since: these three conjunctions denotes a very specific point for the sentences. Because denotes the closet casual conjunction, for denotes the weakest, and since comes between the two sentences.

As, we are now clear with the major topics of conjunctions, now let’s move forward and have a look to some of the rules of conjunctions which will help us to prepare and learn in a systematic and easy manner.

Rule no 1: ‘Until’ is time oriented and ‘Unless’ is action oriented. Both of these are negative words. So, not, never and no cannot be used with the clause containing these words.

For example: Wait for me in the parking until I return.

                          Unless you work hard, you will not succeed.

Rule no 2:- In an affirmative sentences doubt and doubtful are followed by if/ whether. On the other hand, in a negative or an interrogative sentence, doubt and doubtful are followed by that.

For example: I doubt if she will participate in the dance competition.

            I do not doubt that she will participate in the dance competition.

Rule no 3: If two subjects are joined by ‘Either-Or’, ‘Neither-Nor’, the verb agrees with the subject that is near.

For example: Either Ramesh or I am ready to do this work.

Rule no 4:- The phrase “seldom or ever” is meaningless. We should say “seldom or never”.

For example: Such goods are made for export, and are seldom or never used in this country.

Rule no 5: Directly should not be used as a conjunction where as soon as would in every way be better.

For example: As soon as (not directly) the session of 1999 commenced, the government was pressed to do something for the unemployed.

Note: According to Fowler, “the conjunctional use of directly is quite defensible, but is chiefly colloquial”.

Rule no 6: Lest is a negative word and is always followed either by should or first form of the verb. Remember, the words (not, no, never) cannot be used with lest.

 For Example:  Dance carefully lest she should fall.

                  Dance carefully lest she falls.

Note: ‘Lest’ is rare in modern English. The modern idiomatic construction after ‘lest’ is ‘should’. (As mentioned in the rule)

Rule no 7: Scarcely should be followed by ‘when’, and not by ‘then’.

For example: Scarcely had he gone, when (not than) a policeman knocked at the door.

Rule no 8: When conjunctions are used as correlatives, each of the correlated words should be placed immediately before the words that is to be connected.

For example: He not only visited Agra, but also Delhi.

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