Conjunction (grammar)

“But” redirects here. For other uses, see BUT.

In grammar, a conjunction (abbreviated CONJ or CNJ) is a part of speech that connects two words, sentences, phrases or clauses together. A discourse connective is a conjunction joining sentences. This definition may overlap with that of other parts of speech, so what constitutes a “conjunction” must be defined for each language. In general, a conjunction is an invariable grammatical particle, and it may or may not stand between the items it conjoins.

The definition may also be extended to idiomatic phrases that behave as a unit with the same single-word conjunction (as well as, provided that, etc.).

Many students are taught that certain conjunctions (such as “and”, “but”, “because”, and “so”) should not begin sentences; although authorities such as the  state that this teaching has “no historical or grammatical foundation”.

A simple literary example of a conjunction: “the truth of nature, and the power of giving interest” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria)

Correlative conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions work in pairs to join words and groups of words of equal weight in a sentence. There are six different pairs of correlative conjunctions:

  1. either…or
  2. not only…but (also)
  3. neither…nor (or increasingly neither…or)
  4. both…and
  5. whether…or
  6. just as…so

Examples:

  • You either do your work or prepare for a trip to the office.
  • Not only is he handsome, but he is also brilliant.
  • Neither the basketball team nor the football team is doing well.
  • Both the cross country team and the swimming team are doing well.
  • Whether you stay or you go, it’s your decision.
  • Just as many Australians love cricket, so many Canadians love ice hockey.
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