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Coordinating conjunctions

What is a coordinating conjunction?

Coordinating conjunctions coordinate or join two or more sentences, main clauses, words, or other parts of speech which are of the same syntactic importance. Also known as coordinators, coordinating conjunctions are used to give equal emphasis to a pair of main clauses.

Coordinating Conjunction Rules

As there are only seven of these words, there are just a few rules for using coordinating conjunctions correctly:

  1. It’s a good idea to use the mnemonic “FANBOYS” to memorize coordinating conjunctions so you’ll never forget them. They are:
    • = for
    • = and
    • = nor
    • = but
    • = or
    • = yet
    • = so
  2. Coordinating conjunctions always connect phrases, words, and clauses. For example: This batch of mushroom stew is savory and delicious.
  3. Some instructors warn that starting a sentence with a coordinating conjunction is incorrect. Mostly, this is because they are attempting to help prevent you from writing fragments rather than complete sentences; sometimes though, it’s just a personal preference. The fact is, you can begin sentences with coordinating conjunctions as long as you follow these three rules for doing so:
    • Ensure that the coordinating conjunction is immediately followed by a main clause
    • Don’t use coordinating conjunctions to begin all of your sentences. Do so only when it makes your writing more effective.
    • Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction to separate two independent clauses. They should not be used after coordinating conjunctions used to open sentences unless an interrupter immediately follows.  

Examples of Coordinating Conjunctions

In the following examples, the coordinating conjunctions have been italicized for easy identification.

  1. You can eat your cake with a spoon or fork.
  2. My dog enjoys being bathed but hates getting his nails trimmed.
  3. Bill refuses to eat peas, nor will he touch carrots.
  4. I hate to waste a drop of gas, for it is very expensive these days.

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