Stage 7 Stage 8

Conjunctions are words that we use to join two clauses together to make longer sentences. There are many words that we use for this purpose. However, the three most common are ‘and’, or ‘and’ but.

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We use the word ‘and’ to link two ideas together. These can be similar ideas. For example to describe someone you can say “The girl was gentle and pretty.” It is used here to link the two adjectives for the girl.

We can also use it to present two different or consecutive concepts. For example we can say “I left work and then I went to the bar.” These are obviously consecutive actions that we have linked in the one sentence.

To link two contrasting or opposite ideas, we commonly use the word ‘but’. For example, if someone invites me to a party I might reply “I would love to come, but it is not possible tonight.” As you can see here we have two contrasting clauses about the same idea.

We use the word ‘or’ when we want to present a choice and there can be only one answer. For example we can ask “Do you want to go to the cinema, the beach or to a restaurant?” We are offering three choices of where to go and the person we are speaking to can only choose one.

There are many other words that we can use as conjunctions as well. Words such as ‘if’, ‘because’ and ‘when’ are often used to join concepts together. Let’s look at some examples.

~ I like to go to the beach because I can swim there.
~ I will win the lottery if I am lucky.
~ She will eat her dinner when she gets home.

We can also use these conjunctions to start a sentence. The second part of the sentence is usually separated from the first by a comma. For example,

~ If we go to New York, we will be able to see the Statue of Liberty.
~ Because I am so tall, I need to duck when I go through a doorway.
~ When he gets home, he will watch television.

In general we cannot start a sentence like this with the conjunctions and, or and but. It is allowable in exceptional circumstances, but it is not usual. Consider these two sentences.

~ I was told I could go to the top of the building, but I didn’t want to.
~ But I didn’t want to, I was told I could go to the top of the building.

The first sentence is great. It makes sense. The second sentence is not good at all. It makes no sense. This is why we generally cannot start a sentence with but, because it just won’t make sense.

Conjunctions are a very common and useful way of making sentences. You can use them to construct long and elaborate sentences or simply to join to concepts together. Have a look at our question and answer section and see if you can master this very important part of English.

K. Charles

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Kym Charles