Definition and Types of Conjunction| Parts of Speech

Definition of Conjunction

The word Conjunction means union, concurrence or coexistence. Let us look at the definition of Conjunctions. Conjunctions are simply words that join sentences, clauses and sometimes words. These join together sentences are to make them more compact. Unlike Relative Adverbs and Relative Pronouns, Conjunctions just simply join and perform no other job. Look at the examples below to get a clear understanding.

  • The teacher is young, but she is weak.
  • Sara and Hania are sisters.

In the first example, the conjunction ‘but’ is joining two sentences and is also making them smaller. So instead of saying ‘but she is talented’ we have shortened the sentence and made it compact.

In the second example, the conjunction and is only joining two words.

Definition of conjunction in dictionary

Definitions of conjunction vary according to dictionaries. Click here for the definition of conjunction in Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Kinds of Conjunctions

There are two types of Conjunctions: Correlative Conjunctions and Compound Conjunctions.

Correlative Conjunctions

There are some Conjunctions which are used as pairs. These types of conjunctions are called Correlative Conjunctions or just Correlatives. Common Correlative Conjunctions are as follows:

Either –or, neither –nor, both –and, though –yet, whether –or, not only –but also

Examples of Correlative Conjunctions in sentences:

  • Either do this or do that.
  • Though it was raining heavily, yet she still managed to come.

Take note that correlative conjunctions should be placed right before the words to be joined. We cannot write: She not only speaks English, but also Arabic.

The correct way is: She speaks not only English, but also Arabic.

Compound Conjunctions

Many compound expressions are also used as conjunctions. These compound expressions are called Compound Conjunctions. Common words that come under the category of Compound Conjunctions are as follows.

In order that, as if, as soon as, as well as, inasmuch as, provided that, even if, etc

Examples of Compound Conjunctions in sentences:

  • The house looks as if it was made hundreds of years ago.
  • You can have the sweets provided that you brush your teeth afterwards.
  • I accept your invitation, inasmuch as spending time with you is great

Classes of Conjunctions

Conjunctions are divided into two classes: Co-ordinating Conjunctions and Subordinating Conjunctions.

Coordinating Conjunctions

The word co-ordinating means ‘of equal rank’. The conjunctions which join together two sentences or clauses or equal rank or significance are known as Co-ordinating Conjunctions. They connect two independent clauses together. The main coordinating conjunctions are as follows:

And, but, for, nor, or, also, neither –nor, either –or

Examples of Coordinating Conjunctions in sentences:

  • Dogs bark and cats mew.
  • I went to work but my sister stayed at home.

Kinds of Co-ordinating Conjunctions: These are the four kinds of Coordinating Conjunctions: Cumulative Conjunctions, Adversative Conjunctions, Disjunctive Conjunctions and Illative Conjunctions.

Cumulative Conjunctions: These conjunctions simply add one clause to another. Cumulative Conjunctions are also called Copulative Conjunctions.

Examples in sentences:

  • The cat got up and ran very fast.
  • He plays guitar as well as he paints pictures.

Adversative Conjunctions: These conjunctions are used to indicate opposition or contrast between two statements or clauses.

Examples in sentences:

  • He is ill, but he is getting better.
  • She was all right; only she had a headache.

Disjunctive Conjunctions: Distinctive Conjunctions are used to present two sentences which provide two alternatives. These conjunctions are also known as Alternative Conjunctions.

Examples in sentences:

  • You must quit smoking, or you will get seriously ill.
  • Revise your lesson; else you will fail the test.

Illative Conjunctions: Illative conjunctions denote inferences. They make an assumption in one statement based on the condition in the other statement.

Examples in sentences:

  • Someone is at the door, for the bell rang.
  • I have been applying for Colleges everywhere, so I will definitely get in one.

Subordinating Conjunctions

The conjunctions which join together an independent clause to a dependent clause are called Subordinating Conjunctions. The main Subordinating Conjunctions are:

After, before, because, if, till, as, that, though, although, unless, etc

Examples in sentences:

  • After the rain was over the sun came out again.
  • I will wait here till you come back.

Kinds of Subordinating Conjunctions: According to their meanings, subordinating conjunctions are classified as: Subordinating Conjunctions of Time, Subordinating Conjunctions of Cause, Subordinating Conjunctions of Purpose, Subordinating Conjunctions of Consequence, Subordinating Conjunctions of Condition, Subordinating Conjunctions of Concession and Subordinating Conjunctions of Comparison.

Subordinating Conjunctions of Time: These conjunctions are used to indicate time of happening of something.

Examples in sentences:

  • I went home after the sunset.
  • Hani reached the ceremony before it was over.

Subordinating Conjunctions of Cause: Subordinating conjunctions of course are used to show the cause and effect of something. They give the reason behind the happening of something. These are also called Conjunctions of Reason.

Examples in sentences:

  •  She baked a cake because it was her birthday.
  • Since you have been gone, I am doing the dishes.

Subordinating Conjunctions of Purpose:  These are the conjunctions which denote the purpose of things that: why something was done or why something happened.

Examples in sentences:

  • He ate, so that he won’t be hungry.
  • I went to the doctor lest my wound should be infected.

Subordinating Conjunctions of Consequence: These conjunctions show the result of some happening. For this reason they are also Conjunctions of Result.

Examples in sentences:

  • She worked so many hours that she could barely sit.
  • The seminar was boring so people started yawning.

Subordinating Conjunctions of Condition: Subordinating Conjunctions of Condition are used to express that something will happen if some other thing is done. Or what will happen if the condition of one clause is fulfilled.

Examples in sentences:

  • She will work if she gets paid handsomely.
  • People will not succeed unless they work efficiently.

Subordinating Conjunctions of Concession: These conjunctions concede or state a fact or idea regardless of what claim is made in the main clause. Look at the following examples to get clear on this one.

  • Though my cat is ill, yet it plays all day.
  • Even though he was rich, he never looked down upon anyone.

We can see that in example one, regardless of illness of the cat, it still plays. So in spite of whatever is said in the clause, a fact is still presented by using a conjunction of concession.

Subordinating Conjunctions of Comparison: Subordinating Conjunctions of Comparison are used to show a comparison between two things, in two statements.

Examples in sentences:

  • She is stronger than her friend.
  • Our team wore white whereas their team