Using Conjunctions to Show the Relationship Between Ideas
You should join ideas together whenever they are closely related. When they are, you have a few options for joining them.
If the ideas are of equal importance, write each idea so that it is a grammatically complete sentence (i.e. it has a subject, verb, and expresses a complete idea), and then use one of the two following techniques:
Use a comma and a coordinating conjunction to join the two ideas. There are only seven coordinating conjunctions:
Example: Mrs. Smith likes bright colors, so she wears yellow polka-dot dresses.
* “So” is NOT a coordinate conjunction when the meaning is “so that.”
** “Yet” is NOT a coordinate conjunction when the meaning relates to time (e.g. She hasn’t finished her work yet.).
Use a conjunctive adverb and a semicolon to join the two ideas. There are a number of conjunctive adverbs. Listed below are some of them:
You can identify conjunctive adverbs because they can be placed in more than one position in the sentence and still make sense (e.g. She wanted to go home; however, she knew she had to finish her paper. OR She wanted to go home; she knew, however, she had to finish her paper.).
Example: Mrs. Smith likes bright colors; therefore, she wears yellow polka-dot dresses.
If the ideas are closely related but NOT equally important, then you can join the ideas with a subordinating conjunction.
First decide which idea you want to emphasize; write this idea as a complete sentence. Then join the other idea to a subordinating conjunction; this forms a subordinate (dependent) clause. This new clause can not stand alone. You must connect it to a complete sentence. A list of some common subordinate conjunctions is given below:
- as (far/soon) as
- as if
- as though
- even if
- even though
- if only
- inasmuch as
- in case
- in order that
- insofar as
- in that
- no matter how
- now that
- provided that
- rather than
- so that
- supposing that
If you place the subordinate clause at the beginning at the sentence, you should follow it with a comma. If you place the subordinate clause at the end of the sentence, you do not need to precede it with a comma UNLESS it is clearly additional (non-restrictive) information.
- Mrs. Smith likes bright colors.
- Mrs. Smith wears yellow polka-dot dresses.
Ideas joined with a subordinate conjunction:
- Because Mrs. Smith likes bright colors, she wears yellow polka-dot dresses.
- Mrs. Smith wears yellow polka-dot dresses because she likes bright colors.