Home > Articles > Business & Management

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book


Conjunctions connect words, phrases, or clauses and at the same time indicate the relationship between them. Conjunctions include the simple coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor, so, yet), the subordinate conjunctions (because, since, although, when, if, so that, etc.), the correlative conjunctions (either ...or, neither ... nor, both ... and), and the conjunctive adverbs (however, thus, furthermore, etc.).

Coordinating Conjunctions

The simple coordinating conjunctions are and, but, or, for, nor, so, and yet. They often connect two independent clauses (complete thoughts):

  • The program designer established the default settings, and the programmer built them into the system.
  • Our proposal was a day late, but we were not eliminated from competition.
  • The pump will have to be replaced, or we will continue to suffer daily breakdowns.
  • We rejected his budget, yet he continued to argue that all contested items were justified.


These simple connectors establish the relationship between the thoughts being coordinated:

  • And shows addition
  • Or shows alternative
  • Nor shows negative alternative
  • But and yet show contrast
  • For and so show causality

NOTE 1: When you use a coordinating conjunction to connect two independent clauses or complete thoughts, place a comma before the conjunction, as in the sentences above. However, you may omit the comma when the two clauses are short and closely related. Also, a semicolon can replace both the comma and the conjunction. See SEMICOLONS and COMMAS.

NOTE 2: The conjunctions and and or (preceded by a comma) also connect the last two items in a series:

  • The engineer designed an emergency exit door, a narrow outside stairway, and a concrete support pad.
  • She requested full written disclosure, an apology, or financial compensation.


  1. Ensure that in choosing and and or you select the conjunction that conveys exactly what you mean.

    At first glance, and and or merely join two or more items, but they can and often do imply much more.


    In the following sentences and does more than merely connect the ideas. What and implies is stated in parentheses following each example:

    • He saw the accident, and he called the police. (therefore)
    • My boss is competent, and David is not. (contrast)
    • He changed the tire, and he replaced the hub cap. (then)
    • Explain the cost savings, and I’ll approve your proposal. (condition)


    The conjunction or usually means one of two possibilities:

    • I want either a Ford or an Acura.

    However, or sometimes has other, occasionally confusing, implications:

    • The faulty part or the worm gear seemed to be causing our problem. (Are the faulty part and the worm gear the same? Only knowledgeable readers would know for sure.)
    • Add to the bid, or I’ll reject your offer. (negative condition)
    • He began doing the schematics, or at least he appeared to be doing them. (correction)


  2. Occasionally, sentences can begin with a coordinating conjunction.

    This advice contradicts the rule that many of us learned in school: “Never begin a sentence with and.” Some writers and editors still offer this advice, but most have now recognized that this so-called rule has no basis. Even Shakespeare began some of his sentences with coordinating conjunctions.

    A coordinating conjunction at the beginning of a sentence links the sentence to the preceding sentence or paragraph. Sometimes, the linking is unnecessary:

    • We objected to the proposal because of its length. And others felt that it had errors in its facts.

    The and at the beginning of the second sentence is simply unnecessary. It adds nothing to the thought and may easily be omitted:

    • We objected to the proposal because of its length. Others felt that it had errors in facts.

    Using a conjunction to begin a sentence is not grammatically incorrect. Sometimes, it is good stylistic variation. But it tends to look and sound informal, so avoid this practice in formal documents.

  3. Do not use and or but before which (or that, who, whose, whom, where) unless you use a preceding parallel which (or that, who, whose, whom, where):

    • We explored the DeMarcus itinerary, which you explained in your letter but which you failed to mention in Saturday’s meeting.
    • The meetings should take place where we met last year or where we can arrange for equally good facilities.

    The following sentence violates this principle. Consequently, it is awkward and nonparallel:

    • The plans called for a number of innovative features, especially regarding extra insulation, and which should save us much in fuel costs. (Deleting the and would solve the lack of parallelism in this sentence.)


    Subordinate Conjunctions

    In contrast to the limited set of coordinating conjunctions, subordinate conjunctions are a varied and diverse group:

    • after, although, as, because, before, if, once, since, that, though, until, when, where, while
    • in that, so that, such that, except that, in order that, now (that), provided (that), supposing (that), considering (that), as far as, as long as, so long as, sooner than, rather than, as if, as though, in case
    • if . . . (then)
    • although . . . yet/nevertheless
    • as . . . so
    • more/–er/less . . . than
    • as . . . as
    • so . . . (that)
    • such . . . as
    • such . . . (that)
    • no sooner . . . than
    • whether . . . or (not)
    • the . . . the

    Subordinate conjunctions introduce subordinate clauses and phrases (dependent clauses and phrases that do not convey complete thoughts and are therefore not independent):

    • After the engineer gave her talk
    • Because of the voltage loss
    • When the test results come in
    • While still producing fluids
    • In that you had already made the request
    • Except that the procedure was costly
    • Provided that you calculate the results
    • As though it hadn’t rained enough
    • If we fail
    • As aware as he is
    • So expensive that it was prohibitive
    • Whether or not you submit the report

    These subordinate clauses and phrases must be attached to independent clauses (complete thoughts) to form sentences:

    • After the engineer gave her talk, several colleagues had questions.
    • In that you had already made the request, we decided to omit the formal interview.
    • If we fail, the project stops. (or If we fail, then the project stops.)
    • As aware as he is, he must be sensitive to the personnel problems.


    NOTE 1: A subordinate clause or phrase that opens a sentence should be followed by a comma. The preceding sentences illustrate this rule. See COMMAS.

    NOTE 2: When the subordinate clause or phrase follows the independent clause or main thought of the sentence, no commas are necessary:

    • The experiment failed because of the voltage loss.
    • We would have denied the request except that the procedure was so costly.
    • We wondered whether you would turn in your report.

    NOTE 3: Occasionally, the subordinate clause or phrase interrupts the main clause and must have commas on both sides of it to indicate where the clause or phrase appears:

    • The President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after receiving the latest aerial reconnaissance photos of the area, decided on a naval blockade of all ports.
    • Our budgetary problems, regardless of the Madiera Project expense, would have taken care of themselves if the prime rate hadn’t gone up three points.
  4. Subordinate conjunctions can begin sentences:

    • When the test results come in, we’ll have to analyze them carefully.
    • Because the project manager was unfamiliar with the budget codes, we failed to expense the costs of fabrication.

    NOTE: The old-school rule “Never begin a sentence with because” was and remains a bad rule. You may begin a sentence with because as long as the dependent clause it introduces is followed by an independent clause or complete thought.

  5. Distinguish between some subordinate conjunctions that have overlapping or multiple meanings (especially because/since/as and while/although/as).

    Avoid using since and as to mean “because”:

    • Because the Leiper Project failed, several engineers were reassigned to electro-optics. (not Since the project failed . . . )
    • Because we had ample supplies, no new batteries were ordered. (not As we had ample supplies . . . )

    Avoid using while and as to mean “although”:

    • Although many employees begin work at 8 a.m., others begin at 7 a.m. (not While many employees begin work at 8 a.m.... )
    • Although the value of the test results declined, we still felt we could meet the deadline. (not As the value of the test results declined . . . )

    Correlative Conjunctions

    Correlative conjunctions are pairs of coordinating conjunctions:

    • both . . . and
    • either . . . or
    • neither . . . nor
    • not only . . . but also
  6. Make the constructions following each coordinating conjunction parallel:

    • The committee was interested in both real estate holdings and stock investments. (not . . . both in real estate holdings and the stock investments.)
    • The investigation revealed that either the budget was inaccurate or our records had gaps. (not The investigation revealed either that the budget was inaccurate or our records had gaps.)

    NOTE: Faulty parallelism problems occur when the same phrase structure or word patterns do not occur after each coordinating conjunction:

    • He was aware that not only was the pipe too small but also that the pipe supports were made of aluminum instead of stainless steel.

    This sentence is confusing because the two thats are not parallel. The first that comes before not only, and the second that comes after but also. A parallel version of the sentence is much smoother:

    • He was aware not only that the pipe was too small but also that the pipe supports were made of aluminum instead of stainless steel.


    Conjunctive Adverbs

    Conjunctive adverbs are adverbs that function as conjunctions, typically by connecting independent clauses or complete thoughts. Usually, a semicolon appears along with the conjunctive adverb. The most common conjunctive adverbs are accordingly, also, besides, consequently, further, furthermore, hence, however, moreover, nevertheless, otherwise, then, therefore, thus, and too. See TRANSITIONS.

    NOTE: Conjunctive adverbs and the accompanying semicolons lengthen sentences and convey a heavy, formal tone. If possible, replace conjunctive adverbs with and, but, or, for, nor, so, and yet.

  7. Use a semicolon before and a comma after conjunctive adverbs used to join two complete thoughts:

    • Motherboard assembly is a lengthy production process; however, the individual assembly steps must still be tightly controlled.
    • Increasing pressure in the T-valves is potentially dangerous; nevertheless, we will not be able to monitor effluent discharge without increasing the pressure.


    NOTE: You can omit the comma following the conjunctive adverb if the sentence is short:

    • I think; therefore I am.
  8. Use a comma following conjunctive adverbs at the beginning of a sentence:

    • Therefore, I am recommending that Pharmaco reconsider the baseline scores for the principal efficacy parameters.
    • However, sulfur compounds might not be the answer either.

    NOTE 1: You may omit this comma if the sentence is short:

    • Thus the plan failed.

    NOTE 2: If the adverb appears at the beginning of the sentence but does not behave as a conjunction, it is part of the sentence and cannot be followed by a comma:

    • Then the seam split at the forward discharge valve, and the boiler lost pressure rapidly.
    • Regardless of how we examined the problem, we could not resolve the fundamental dispute between the software designers and the copyright holders.

    See COMMAS.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020