Coordinating Conjunctions


In the English language, coordinating conjunctions play a pivotal role in sentence construction. They help in connecting words, phrases, or clauses that are equally important within a sentence. Knowledge of coordinating conjunctions is essential for effective writing and speaking. This tutorial will guide you on its usage, types, and rules.

Definition of Coordinating Conjunctions

A coordinating conjunction is a word used to connect two or more sentences, main clauses, or words that share the same significance. It ensures that the different parts of the sentence relate to each other and can function independently.

Types of Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions have seven types, commonly known as the FANBOYS. The acronym FANBOYS stands for For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So. Let's delve into each type:

  • For: It's used to explain reason or purpose. For example: "She took a leave, for she was sick."
  • And: It's used to add information. For example: "She likes cats, and she also has three of them at home."
  • Nor: It introduces a second negative element into the sentence. For example: "I don’t eat meat, nor do I eat dairy products."
  • But: It's used to show contrast. For example: "I tried to lift the weight, but it was too heavy."
  • Or: It provides alternative or choice. For example: "We can eat now, or we can wait for John."
  • Yet: It's used to indicate contrast or unexpected results. For example: "She is very small, yet she can lift heavy weights."
  • So: It shows the result. For example: "He was tired, so he went to bed early."
  • Rules for Using Coordinating Conjunctions

    To use coordinating conjunctions correctly, you must understand and follow certain grammatical rules. These include the following:

  • Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction: When a coordinating conjunction is used to connect two independent clauses, a comma is generally used before it. For example: "I love to read, and I spend most of my free time in the library."
  • Do not use a comma when coordinating conjunctions connect items in a list or two closely connected ideas: When a coordinating conjunction links two items in a list or two closely related ideas, you do not need to use a comma. For example: "I love reading books and magazines."

    Parallel Structure

    When using coordinating conjunctions, you need to maintain parallel structure, meaning the sentence elements that the conjunction connects should have the same grammatical form. For example: "She likes running, swimming, and biking." Each item listed after the conjunction is a present participle, maintaining parallelism.


    Avoid redundancy when using coordinating conjunctions. For instance, the conjunction 'and' is often used inappropriately resulting in tautology. For instance saying "They both are good and are bad." is redundant and incorrect. Instead, you should say "They are both good and bad."

    Common Errors with Coordinating Conjunctions

    While coordinating conjunctions seem simple to use, it's essential to be aware of common mistakes to avoid them.

  • Conjunction Run-on: This is a frequent error where two independent clauses are connected with a coordinating conjunction but without a comma. This results in a run-on sentence. For example: "I love to read and I spend most of my free time in the library." The correct form should be: "I love to read, and I spend most of my free time in the library."
  • Incorrect Placement of Conjunction: The coordinating conjunction should be placed between the elements it's connecting, not at the start or end of the sentence. Incorrect usage includes: "And she went to the market." The correct form is: "She went to the market."


    Mastering the use of coordinating conjunctions requires diligent practice. You can begin by constructing short, simple sentences and gradually move on to more complex ones. Always remember the FANBOYS (For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So) and the grammar rules associated with them.


    By following this guide, you can use coordinating conjunctions effectively to improve the structural integrity of your sentences. They are integral elements that facilitate the flow of thoughts and ideas in a sentence, making your communication clear and efficient.

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