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The Coordinating Conjunction in English Grammar

Traditional grammars define conjunctions as words that “link together other words, phrases, and clauses.” Coordinating conjunctions are a type of conjunction that link, or coordinate, two or more linguistic constituents such as words, phrases, and clauses. Coordinating conjunctions perform the grammatical function of coordinator. Coordinators join or link two or more words, phrases, and clauses.

The seven coordinating conjunctions in English, which can be remembered through the acronym FANBOYS, are:

  • for*
  • and
  • nor
  • but
  • or
  • yet
  • so

*The conjunction for is not commonly used in either spoken or written Modern English.

Using Coordinating Conjunctions

Prescriptive grammars require that the linguistic constituents linked by a coordinating conjunction be of the same grammatical form. For example, the following sentences contain coordinating conjunctions that join equal constituents:

  • The extroverted but shy boy danced on stage. (adjectives)
  • You may walk, jog, or run. (verbs)
  • The library and the student center are open late. (noun phrases)
  • The copier runs exceptionally quietly and incredibly efficiently. (adverb phrases)
  • The weather is lovely, so the weatherman was wrong. (verb clauses)
  • Canada is only hours away, yet I have never visited the country. (verb clauses)

However, native English speakers often use coordinating conjunctions to join different grammatical forms. For example, the following sentences contain coordinating conjunctions that join unequal constituents:

  • He screams loudly and like a girl. (adverb and prepositional phrase)
  • The shoes must be inexpensive or on sale. (adjective and prepositional phrase)
  • The cat broke the plate, but the glass was broken by the dog. (active voice and passive voice)

Coordinating conjunctions are conjunctions that link two or more linguistic constituents such as words, phrases, and clauses. Prescriptive grammars require that the linguistic constituents linked by a coordinating conjunction be of the same grammatical form; however, English speakers often join different grammatical forms with coordinating conjunctions.

References

Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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