A coordinating conjunction is used to join together words, phrases, clauses, or sentences. There are seven coordinating conjunctions: and, but, for, nor, or, so, and yet. These words can be remembered by remembering FANBOYS (F = for; A = and; and so on). The most commonly used of these conjunctions are and and but. And connects similar ideas while but connects two contrasting ones. Although coordinating conjunctions share the basic function of connecting words, phrases, and clauses in a sentence, each of them has a specific meaning.  The following show the coordinating conjunctions, and examples of how they can be used. 

For: We use for to express a reason or purpose. It has similar meaning as because, since and as, and can be used in place of any one of them.

 

Examples:

  • He finds it difficult to see clearly, for he is partially blind.
  • He left early, for he had to be on time for the meeting.

 

And: We use and to add one thing to another.

 

Examples:

  • They kicked and punched him. (Connecting words)
  • The mother bought her a strawberry ice cream and a bear lollipop. (Connecting phrases)

 

Nor: We usually use nor before the second negative after the first one. We can also use it as the last of a set of negatives.

 

Examples:

  • The audience was not very impressed by their performance, nor their jokes.
  • I notice your socks are never washed, nor your car.

 

But: We use but to introduce an additional phrase or clause that is different from what has already been mentioned.

 

Examples:

  • He accidentally stepped on a dog’s tail but didn’t get bitten.
  • There was only small beans in the soup but delicious.

 

Or: We use or to show alternatives or different possibilities.

 

Examples:

  • We can go now or when it stops raining.
  • Is that beef or mutton in the curry?

 

Yet: We use yet to add something surprising because of what has just been mentioned. 

 

Examples:

  • He is only a little boy, yet he is able to carry such a heavy load.
  • I arrived there half an hour late, yet no one else had turned up.

 

So: We use so to mean for this reason. It has similar meaning as therefore

 

Examples:

  • The rain got heavier, so the match had to be abandoned.
  • The neighbor threatened to burn their house down, so he made a police report.

 

  

Avoiding repeating unnecessary words when using conjunctions

Examples:

 

  • You need to know what rights you have. You also need to know how to use them.
  • You need to know what right you have and how to use them.
  • This is an expensive machine. It is an immensely useful machine.
  • This is an expensive but immensely useful machine.
  • We didn’t believe a word he said. None of us believe his excuses as well.
  • We didn’t believe a word he said, nor his excuses. 
  • You can choose the white one. You can also choose the black one.
  • You can choose the white one or the black one.

 

(For meaning and use of coordinating conjunctions, see List 12 - Conjunctions)