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 examples of the coordinating conjunctions being 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.
- 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.
- They kicked and punched him. (Connecting words)
- Her 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.
- The audience was not very impressed by their performances, 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.
- Without looking, he stepped on a dog’s tail, but he didn’t get bitten.
- There were only small beans in the soup, but it is more delicious than the tomato soup I had yesterday..
Or: We use or to show alternatives or different possibilities.
- We can go now with umbrellas 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.
- He is only a little boy, yet he is able to carry such a heavy load.
- I reached 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.
- The rain got heavier, so the match had to be abandoned.
- Her neighbor threatened to burn her house down, so she made a police report.
Avoid repeating unnecessary words when using conjunctions
The underlined words can be avoided as unnecessary.
- 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)