Conjunctions are words used as joiners. They are joining words and their main function is to link together two different parts of a sentence. Different kinds of conjunctions join different kinds of grammatical structures. The short, simple conjunctions are called “coordinating conjunctions”: and, but, or, nor, for, yet, so.
A coordinating conjunction joins parts of a sentence (for example words or independent clauses) that are grammatically equal or similar. A coordinating conjunction shows that the elements it joins are similar in importance and structure.
Most common Coordinating conjunctions:
For: it answers the question ‘why?’ (“She is risking her safety, for she has been abusing drugs far too long.”).
And: presents non-contrasting item(s) or idea(s) (“They sing and dance.”).
Nor: presents a non-contrasting negative idea (“She doesn’t revise her lessons nor does she go to her classes.”).
But: presents a contrast or exception (“She has a lot of drug dealers as friends but she is clean.”).
Or: presents an alternative item or idea (“I have to do it or I will be eliminated.”).
Yet: presents a contrast or exception (“They are homeless yet they don’t beg.”).
So: presents a consequence (“She obtained her BA so we all sent her congratulations messages.”).
1. Coordinating conjunctions always come between the words or clauses that they join.
- Catherine loves scary movies but John loves fantasy movies.
- Jimmy hates carrots and cucumbers.
2. When a coordinating conjunction joins independent clauses, it is always correct to place a comma before the conjunction:
- I want to work as an interpreter in the future, so I am studying many languages at university.
3. However, if the independent clauses are short and well-balanced, a comma is not really essential:
- She is severe so she hurt people around.
4. When “and” is used with the last word of a list, a comma is optional:
- He plays piano, guitar, drum, and saxophone.
- He plays piano, guitar, drum and saxophone.