Coordinating Conjunction

Understanding the Uses of Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions are the easiest and most common type of conjunction.

A coordinating conjunction conjoins two words or group of words that are “equal” in terms of their syntactic status, i.e., they must be of the same word class or phrasal category, and they must have the same syntactic function.

There are seven coordinating conjunctions, for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so; sometimes “then” can also function as coordinatinating conjunction.

The acronym: FANBOYS is usually used to remember these conjunctions, as shown below:

FANBOYS
ForAndNorButOrYetSo

There are also four other coordinating conjunctions known as correlative pairs or correlative conjunctionOpens in new window, these include: “either … or,” “neither … nor,” “both … and,” “not only … but (also).”

In addition to this, some grammarians include also, “and yet,” and “and then.”

Coordinating conjunctions always come in between the two units that are conjoined.

Survey the following examples.

In the examples below, the conjunctions are in bold, and the syntactic relation of the words they conjoin are indicated at the top:

Joining Nouns
  • Researches will provide information on production and then storage.
  • The mechanism of health and safety could be quite a blur.
  • We are lagging on infrastructure, technology, pharmaceutic, and yet electricity.
Joining Pronouns
  • Neither they nor we have got any reason to revolt.
Joining Verbs
  • She can neither walk nor talk.
  • We’ll just kick back and eat and eat.
Joining Adjectives
  • Common, but simple design problems …
  • What the scientist envisages is neither plausible nor practicable.
Joining Adverbs
  • It's either now or never.

Coordinating Conjunctions Joining Phrases

Joining Noun Phrases
  • a handsome boy and lovely girl
Joining Adjectival Phrases
  • It was so near, yet so far.
Joining Determiner Phrases
  • that’s either two years or a year between them.
Joining Verb Phrases
  • She would bark furiously and growl ferociously.
Joining Prepositional Phrases
  • They are either in the cupboard or under the sink.

Coordinating Conjunctions Joining Clauses

When a coordinating conjunction connects two independent clauses, it is often (but not always) accompanied by a comma:

  • Alex wants to play for Young Stars, but he has had trouble meeting physique requirements.

When the two independent clauses connected by a coordinating conjunction are nicely balanced or brief, many writers will omit the comma:

  • Gretchen has a great jump shot but she isn’t quick on her feet.

The comma is always correct when it is used to separate two independent clauses connected by a coordinating conjunction.

A comma is also correct when and is used to attach the last item of a serial list, although many writers (especially in newspapers) will omit that final comma:

  • Gretchen spent her summer studying basic math, writing and reading comprehension.

When a coordinating conjunction is used to connect all the elements in a series, a comma is not used:

  • Presbyterians and Methodists and Baptists are the prevalent Protestant congregations in Oklahoma.

A comma is also used with but when expressing a contrast:

  • This is a useful method, but difficult to practice.

In most of their other roles as joiners (other than joining independent clauses), coordinating conjunctions can join two sentence elements without the help of a comma:

  • Hemingway and Fitzgerald are among the American expatriates of the between-the-wars era.
  • Hemingway was renowned for his clear style and his insights into American notions of male identity.
  • It is hard to say whether Hemingway or Fitzgerald is the more interesting cultural icon of his day.
  • Although Hemingway is sometimes disparaged for his unpleasant portrayal of women and for his glorification of machismo, we nonetheless find some sympathetic, even heroic, female figures in his novels and short stories.

Among the coordinating conjunctions, the most common, of course, are and, but, and or. It would be helpful to delve into the uses of these three little words. They are discussed at length in a designated post hereOpens in new window.