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How to Use Coordinating Conjunctions with Easy Examples

What is the most important part of speech in the English language? You could say that nouns—the people, places, and things that we speak about—are high on the list. You could also argue that verbs, states of being, and action words are incredibly important, as well. But, there’s also another category in the English language that enables you to communicate clearly.

Are you curious to know about this crucial part of speech? You’re about to discover some of the words which allow you to structure complex sentences and write confidently. Let’s learn about joining words and, more specifically, the coordinating conjunction.

Do you need an overview of joining words before diving into coordinating conjunctions? That’s not a problem! Here’s an explanative link for you to review. Once you’re done learning the fundamentals, return here to continue learning.

What is a Coordinating Conjunction?

There are different types of joining words which all connect words, phrases, clauses, and sentences together. The subordinates connect two clauses that are not of equal importance together in a sentence. On the other hand, a coordinating conjunction does connect two pairs of words with equal importance together. A third type, correlative words, also connect two clauses of equal importance; however, they operate in pairs instead of alone. Finally, some adverbs can connect parts of a sentence together. Let’s begin by focusing on a group of simple joining words. These will make it easier for you to form a variety of sentences as you speak and write.

Here’s a coordinating conjunction definition: A coordinating conjunction joins words together that are of equal syntactic importance. You can use them to show that two dependent clauses deserve equal emphasis.

As this definition is rather technical, let’s break down the definition of coordinating conjunction into individual parts. First, coordinating conjunctions join words, phrases, parts of speech, main clauses, and sentences together. The words you connect will always be of equal importance. Thus, you won’t use coordinating conjunctions when you’re trying to emphasize one group of words over another.

Soon, you’ll see examples of how these joining words work. Before you do, why not take a quick break to study APA format for writing academic papers? Learning about these guidelines and studying more styles of creating citations will help you better understand the writing process! Once you’re done with those lessons, you’ll continue here by finding the answer to the question, “what is a coordinating conjunction?”

The Seven Words in This Category

There’s not just one coordinating conjunction word—there are several words you can select from. To remember them all, use the acronym FANBOYS. Here’s what each letter in FANBOYS stands for and an example of how to use each word:

F — For

  • Jessie slammed the refrigerator door in disappointment, for there was nothing in the fridge that he could eat.

A — And

  • Lauren loved her new puppy and her older cat too.

N — Nor

  • Stella didn’t want to attend her school dance, nor did her friend Nancy.

B — But

  • Fifi didn’t like her new chew toy, but the neighbor’s dog was content with it.

O — Or

  • Would you like to go swimming, or would you prefer to stay home?

Y — Yet

  • He didn’t want to wear the silly pirate outfit his mother picked, yet he had grown out of his other Halloween costumes.

S — So

  • I didn’t think you were going to finish that chocolate cake, so I decided to help you out.

You can form two individual sentences with each of the examples above. Without joining words, the second example would become:

  • Lauren loved her new pet puppy. Lauren loved her older cat too.

The problem with omitting joining words is that it creates repetitive sentences. The individual sentences that share connected information do not flow well from one idea to the next. That’s why it’s best to connect two sentences with equal syntactic value with a joining word. Get more info about joining words here.

The Definition of Coordinating Conjunction: A Rule to Remember

Can you use the words for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so at the beginning of a sentence? Whereas your English instructor might warn you against it, there are times where using a coordinating conjunction to begin a sentence is fine.

So, what’s the reason for telling English students to avoid beginning a sentence with a joining word? It turns out that when you start your sentence with a joining word, it’s easier to create writing fragments, instead of creating a whole sentence. But if there’s a main clause following the joining word, then starting a sentence with a coordinating conjunction shouldn’t be a problem.

How this Category of Joining Words is Different From the Others

What is a coordinating conjunction and how does it compare to subordinate words? Both connect words together, however, subordination explains that one group of words is more important than another. The equation is:

Independent clause + dependent clause


Dependent clause + comma + independent clause.

This is different from coordinators, which give equal importance to both sets of words. The equation for that is:

Main clause + comma (optional) + coordinating conjunction (FANBOYS) + main clause.

Here is an example of similar sentences that use different joining words and structures:

  • My friend Steward is bringing a cake to the potluck, and Tonya is bringing a fruit salad.

Both Steward bringing a cake and Tonya bringing fruit salad are of equal importance.

  • My friend Steward is bringing a cake to the potluck, if Tonya is bringing a fruit salad.

If Tonya is bringing a fruit salad, then Steward will bring a cake. The first clause is dependent on the second.

Do you need to check your upcoming homework assignment for errors? Here’s a helpful spell check. If you also need to create citations, try this MLA format citing tool!

What is a Coordinating Conjunction and How Do You Punctuate Them?

Punctuation can be tricky when using joining words. Sometimes you need commas, sometimes you don’t. Here are a few easy to remember guidelines.

Coordinating Conjunction Definition: Punctuation Guideline #1

If you want to connect two main clauses using one of the words from the acronym FANBOYS, then use a comma.

  • Whenever I go to school, my dad turns my room into his den, and my mom gets more alone time.

Coordinating Conjunction Definition: Additional Punctuation Guidelines

If you’re connecting two items that aren’t main clauses with a joining word, then you don’t need a comma.

  • My cat loves sleeping and eating.

When you connect a series of items with a joining word, then you should use commas. The Oxford comma (the one before the joining word) is optional. Adding in the final comma often makes your series easier to understand, so try adding it!

  • My car, boat, and shoes are three of my favorite possessions.

Now that you understand joining words a bit better, make your own sentences using the equations above. Try to use each of the seven words from the acronym FANBOYS to create unique sentences!

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