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Compound conjunctions

Compound conjunctions

What is a compound sentence?

As we mention in our guide on how to write better sentences, compound sentences combine two or more independent clauses. The key here is independent clauses, which are clauses that can each stand alone as a separate sentence. Essentially, a compound sentence brings together individual, related sentences as one.

(If you’re unfamiliar with these terms, please check out our guide to clauses in English, which better defines what constitutes a clause.)

Compound sentences are easy to identify because they usually use a coordinating conjunction, which you may remember as FANBOYS: forandnorbutoryet, and so. However, compound sentences can also use a semicolon to connect two clauses, in which case no conjunction is necessary.

Let’s look at some compound sentence examples to see how they work.

Compound sentence examples

Below are two simple complete sentences, each with its own subject and verb:

I have a pet iguana. His name is Fluffy.

To combine them into a compound sentence, we simply add a comma plus the coordinating conjunction and:

I have a pet iguana, and his name is Fluffy.

Alternatively, we can make a compound sentence by adding only a semicolon, and the sentence will still be correct:

I have a pet iguana; his name is Fluffy.

Although they’re talking about the same topic, the subject of each independent clause is different: The first clause’s subject is I, and the second one’s subject is name. That’s part of what makes them independent, and a sentence is considered compound only when it consists of independent clauses. For example, the sentence below is not a compound sentence:

I have a pet iguana whose name is Fluffy.

To be a compound sentence, it needs at least two subjects and two verbs. If both independent clauses use the same subject, it must be stated twice, as in the quote below, for the sentence to be compound:

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples. —Mother Teresa

Be careful of sentences with only two subjects or only two verbs—these are not the same as compound sentences. The following sentence is not a compound sentence, because there is only one subject (I) even though there are two verbs (chew and study), and because what comes after the conjunction and is not an independent clause:

I came here to chew bubblegum and study grammar.

However, you can turn this sentence into a compound sentence by adding another independent clause with a second subject:

I came here to chew bubble gum and study grammar, but I’m all out of gum.

Keep in mind that imperative sentences don’t always show their subjects, because they’re implied. That leads to compound sentences like this example, the first independent clause of which has the implied subject you:

Get me some water, or the fire will spread!

Let’s look at some more compound sentence examples from some of history’s greatest writers:

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” —Lao Tzu

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” —Oscar Wilde

You will face many defeats in life, but never let yourself be defeated.” —Maya Angelou

Group of words which are used as conjunctions are known as compound conjunctions.

Ex : in order that, as though,

       on condition ,in as much as,

       even if, as well, as so that

       as soon as, provided that

       as if


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