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What Are Coordinate (Coordinating) Conjunctions? (with Examples)

What Are Coordinate (Coordinating) Conjunctions? (with Examples)

Coordinate conjunctions (or coordinating conjunctions) most commonly join like with like. This means, for example, they join an adjective with an adjective, a noun with a noun, or a clause with a clause.

The three most common coordinate conjunctions are and, but, and or. There are seven in total. They are:
  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So
You can remember them using the mnemonic F.A.N.B.O.Y.S.

Examples of Coordinate Conjunctions

Here are some examples of coordinate conjunctions:
  • The waiters served sandwiches and cakes.
  • (joins two nouns)
  • The manager, his deputy, or his secretary will be with you in a moment.
  • (joins three nouns)

  • He is a small but aggressive dog.
  • (joins two adjectives)

  • He typed the letter quickly but accurately.
  • (joins two adverbs)

  • She must be able to sing and dance.
  • (joins two verbs)

  • She must be able to sing like a rock star, and dance like a ballerina.
  • (joins two phrases)

  • She must be able to sing, and she must be able to dance.
  • (joins two clauses)

When to Use a Comma before a Coordinate Conjunction

There is often confusion over when to use a comma before a coordinate conjunction. Here is a summary of the rules:

When your coordinate conjunction joins two items, do not use a comma. For example:
  • Cheese and biscuits
However, if you think it helps your reader, you can use a comma. For example:
  • The Bakerloo line runs between Elephant and Castle, and Harrow and Wealdstone
When you have three or more items, it depends what convention you're following. For example:
  • Cheese, pickle, and biscuits
  • (for those following the Oxford Comma convention)
  • Cheese, pickle and biscuits
  • (for those not following the Oxford Comma convention)
When your coordinate conjunction joins two (or more) independent clauses (i.e., ones that could stand alone as individual sentences), then use a comma. For example:
  • I like sweet things but prefer savoury dishes.
  • (In this example, prefer savoury dishes cannot stand alone as a sentence. This is just an example of a coordinate conjunction joining two phrases.)
  • I like sweet things, but I prefer savoury dishes.
  • (In this example, the individual clauses can stand alone. They are independent clauses. That's why there is a comma before but.)
Interactive Test
 
 

Take a longer test on coordinate conjunctions.