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

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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.)
 
 

Take a longer test on coordinate conjunctions.


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