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Conjunctive Adverbs: Learning Helpful Adverbial Words

What is a conjunctive adverb? This part of speech goes by many names, including adverbial conjunctions and subordinating descriptive words.

But what exactly are these words and how can you use them to become a better English speaker and writer? These are questions you will find the answers to in this informative article. You will also find great examples, a list of verb-modifying words, and a simple conjunctive adverb definition below.

Before you begin, check out this helpful spell check for your next paper or writing assignment. It helps identify and correct grammar mistakes. There is also another tool that can create citations for your work using MLA format. Bookmark this great resource to double-check and cite your work before turning in a new project!

What Are Conjunctive Adverbs?

Let’s begin by breaking the word conjunctive adverb into different parts.

First, we have the word conjunction. There are many different types of these words, but generally they all have a similar function. Each one works to connect one word, phrase, clause, or sentence to another.

You can also call these words connecting words. You use them to create smoother sentences that transition from one topic to another. Basically, they help your audience better understand what you mean when you speak or write.

Common conjunctions include:

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

Remember, this is a list of conjunctions, not a list of conjunctive adverbs.

Now that you understand what connecting words are, you should have a better understanding of the purpose of conjunctive adverbs. A conjunctive adverb is a part of speech made up of adverbials that connect words, phrases, and sentences together.

Do you need a reminder of what an adverbial word is? Essentially, these words modify verbs. They give more information about how someone or something takes an action.

Back to the question, “What is a conjunctive adverb?” A conjunctive adverb differs from common conjunctions in that it strengthens your sentence. A conjunctive adverb may be used to shorten sentences as well. In most cases, they are punctuated differently than common conjunctions. Most of all, they help your reader transition from one phrase to the next.

Quick examples of adverbial conjunctions include:

  • Moreover
  • Nevertheless
  • However
  • Instead
  • Likewise

So, now that you know the individual parts of conjunctive adverbs, here is an easy to understand conjunctive adverb definition:

Conjunctive adverbs are verb-modifying words that connect ideas together.

Simple enough, right? Let’s learn how to identify these words and how to use them in sentences. Before you begin, if it would help you to see another definition then look at this page. Once you’re done reading, come back here to find examples.

A List of Conjunctive Adverbs

Do you expect adverbs to end in “-ly”? This method of identification will only take you so far. Notice how many of the adverbs on this list of conjunctive adverbs do not end in “-ly”:

Also Accordingly Additionally Again
Anyway As a result Besides Conversely Consequently
Contrarily Comparatively Certainly Eventually Equally
Elsewhere Further Finally Furthermore Henceforth
Hence However In fact In contrast In comparison
In addition Incidentally Instead Indeed Just as
Likewise Moreover Meanwhile Next Nevertheless
Namely Nonetheless Now Notably Otherwise
On the other hand Rather Still Subsequently Similarly
That is Thereafter Then Therefore Thus
Undoubtedly Uniquely

 

As you can see, there are many different adverbial connecting words. Whereas there are around 29 regular conjunctions, there are nearly twice as many adverbial connecting words. There might be some that you don’t know in the list of examples of conjunctive adverbs above, but don’t worry—you’ll learn many of them soon.

Before we examine some examples of conjunctive adverbs, feel free to learn more about connecting words by viewing this further reading. It’ll provide background on the rules you’re about to learn around forming sentences with adverbial connecting words (plus more conjunctive adverb examples).

Learning the Rules: Examples of Conjunctive Adverbs

You already know that conjunctive adverbs connect ideas together. These words are great for connecting two main clauses (also known as independent clauses) together.

The following rules will help you understand the conjunctive adverb definition and answer, “What are conjunctive adverbs?”

Want a quick reminder about independent clauses? An independent clause makes up every sentence. It contains a subject and a verb, and expresses a complete thought. For example, Teddy ate a slice of pizza is an independent clause. It includes Teddy, who is the subject, and ate, which is the verb.

Rule 1: Complete Sentences Connected With an Adverbial Require a Semicolon

What is a conjunctive adverb, and how do you use it? Whenever you connect two main clauses that have similar meanings, use a semicolon and a transition word from the list above. The formula is:

Complete sentence +; + adverbial connecting word + complete sentence.

Let’s look at some conjunctive adverb examples. When you use an adverbial connecting word to connect two sentences, you’ll get something like this:

  • Jeffrey doesn’t want to go to school today; nevertheless, his mother is making him attend classes.

Nevertheless is the adverbial connecting word in the sentence above. It’s functioning the same way as a coordinating connecting word such as but, so, and yet. However, the difference here is that a coordinating conjunction does not require a semicolon, while an adverbial connecting word does.

Rule 2: You Can Use Connecting Adverbials With a Single Main Clause

You can use connecting adverbials at the beginning, middle, and end of a main clause. These words can still function without connecting two independent clauses together. Instead, each one helps a reader transition from one point to the next. With this use, you don’t need a semicolon and can instead use a comma most times. Here are some examples:

  • Frank was put on hold by his cable company for nearly two hours. Eventually, he got in touch with a customer service rep.
  • Jan has never gotten the high score in Space Invaders. She is determined, nonetheless, to improve her score.
  • There was something about studying for a math exam that made him anxious. He had no trouble studying psychology, however.

Rule 3: Depending on the Sentence, You Might Not Need a Comma When Using a Connecting Adverbial

Sometimes, a break in the sentence is too weak to justify halting the reader with a comma. In fact, a comma can make a sentence sound choppy. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Today Maria ordered a cappuccino instead of getting her normal iced coffee.
  • Today Maria ordered a cappuccino, instead, of getting her normal iced coffee.
  • Harrison certainly didn’t like it when his teacher called on him to answer a question in class.
  • Harrison, certainly, didn’t like it when his teacher called on him to answer a question in class.

Now, that you know the rules to using connecting adverbials, how about taking a quick break? Try learning about APA format and more styles that guide you on how to make citations. These are important skills for both academic and professional writing. Once you’re done, look at more conjunctive adverb examples below.

  • Paul copied his classmate’s homework. As a result, his teacher docked his grade.
  • Stacy went to the computer store; however, they were out of her favorite smartphone.
  • Your work isn’t bad; in fact, you probably deserve a raise.
  • She developed writers block; consequently, she didn’t write another novel for years.
  • He didn’t like eating tomatoes as a child; conversely, ketchup is his primary food source today.
  • They forgot class was canceled for the week; undoubtedly, they had trouble figuring out how to spend their free time.

Why Use Connecting Adverbials?

Transition words are incredibly important for great writing. They help your writing flow and make it seem like you actually planned out exactly what you wanted to say.

In addition, using connecting adverbials grows your confidence as a writer. Instead of using plain language and simple words, you can create more in-depth and detailed sentences.

Lastly, it’s important to continue learning new ways of writing. You have the opportunity to impress your teacher by using more descriptive words like eventually, fortunately, and certainly instead of and, but, and so.

How to Identify Connecting Adverbs with this Conjunctive Adverb Definition

What are conjunctive adverbs? Are you still struggling to identify this type of word in a sentence? That’s understandable. After all, we know adverbs modify verbs and adjectives. These words don’t necessarily appear to be doing that.

The focus here is on the word conjunctive, or connecting. In fact, conjunctive comes from the Latin word meaning “to join together.” Adverbial conjunctions use adverbs to illustrate how, when, where, how much, or how often something happens, just like an adverb.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you think you’ve spotted one.

  • Is the word describing how, when, where, how much, or how often something is happening? (Now, eventually, additionally, etc.)
  • Does the word come after a semicolon? If so, there’s a great chance it’s an adverbial.
  • Is the word following or followed by a comma? This is a clue, but not a sure thing.
  • Does the word link two related ideas together? If so, you may have found your adverbial.

More Tips To Know

Yes, you can improve your writing by using adverbial conjunctions. However, you don’t want to overdo it. Using the same style of sentence repeatedly can hinder the flow of your message.

Also, your teacher may advise you to never start a sentence using a conjunction, like and, but, yet, or so. This rule doesn’t apply to a conjunctive adverb. If you’re thinking of starting a new sentence with and, try adverbials instead, like additionally, furthermore, or moreover.

In conclusion, give connecting adverbials a try in your next project. You won’t regret it!


Published March 6, 2019. Updated June 15, 2020.

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