What Are Conjunctive Adverbs? (with Examples)

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Conjunctive Adverbs

A conjunctive adverb is a word (or short phrase) that provides a link to the previous sentence or previous independent clause. Here is a list of common conjunctive adverbs:
  • also
  • consequently
  • furthermore
  • however
  • incidentally
  • indeed
  • likewise
  • meanwhile
  • nevertheless
  • nonetheless
  • therefore
They can also be phrases (i.e., not just single words):
  • as a result
  • as a consequence
  • for example
  • on the contrary
conjunctive adverbs examples

Conjunctive adverbs are also known as transitional phrases because they act like a bridge (i.e. provide the transition) from one idea to the next idea. As a result, they are good for keeping your readers on track with your thinking and creating easy-to-follow texts.

Examples of Conjunctive Adverbs in Sentences

Here are some examples of conjunctive adverbs in sentences:
  • The instructor's English is poor; consequently, they all failed the exam.
  • The instructor's English is poor. Consequently, they all failed the exam.
Note that a conjunctive adverb is preceded by a semicolon when it joins two independent clauses but a period (full stop) when it joins two sentences.
  • Mr. Evans is my father; however, I am not responsible for what he says.
  • You failed to meet the deadline. Therefore, the deal is off.
Read more about semicolons before transitional phrases.

Real-Life Examples of Conjunctive Adverbs

Here are some real-life sentences that feature conjunctive adverbs:
  • God could not be everywhere. Therefore, he made mothers. (Author Rudyard Kipling)
A conjunctive adverb typically starts a new sentence, but, if you wanted a smooth transition between your ideas, it is possible to use a semicolon before a conjunctive adverb.
  • Orthodox medicine has not found an answer to your complaint; however, luckily for you, I happen to be a quack. (Cartoonist Mischa Richter)
  • When I took part in European summits, it was unpleasant for me to hear Romanian, Polish, Portuguese and Italian friends speak English, although I admit first contacts can be made in this language. Nevertheless, I will defend everywhere the use of the French language. (Good luck with that, President Francois Hollande.)
  • Not all chemicals are bad. For example, without hydrogen and oxygen, there'd be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer. (Author Dave Barry)
  • To a pagan, there is no purpose to suffering; as a result, he lives a life of loneliness and frustration. (Mother Mary Angelica)
  • I think; therefore, I am. (French philosopher René Descartes)

Click on Two Conjunctive Adverbs

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A Video Summary

Here is a short video summarizing this page on conjunctive adverbs:

Why Should I Care about Conjunctive Adverbs?

Using a conjunctive adverb is a great way to keep your readers on track because it prepares them for the impending information by contextualizing it with the story so far. (NB: As conjunctive adverbs provide the logic for the transition between your ideas, they are also known as transitional phrases.) Here's the biggest mistake with conjunctive adverbs: You can't use a comma before one. No, really, you can't. No, really.
  • The instructor's English is poor, consequently, they all failed the exam.
  • You failed to meet the deadline, therefore, the deal is off.
  • I normally like toffees, however, I dislike these ones.
  • (This is a very common mistake, especially with the word however.)
Note: A conjunctive adverb bridging two sentences or independent clauses is followed by a comma but not preceded by one.

Preceding "however" (or any conjunctive adverb) with a comma and writing a new sentence is known as a run-on error or a comma-fault error. Remember that a conjunctive adverb is typically written with a capital letter and is preceded by the end punctuation (usually a period) of the last sentence. It is possible to use a lowercase letter for your conjunctive adverb and precede it with a semicolon, but don't do that too often. It quickly gets annoying.

Read more about using semicolons.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

Starting a sentence with "however" Take a test on conjunctive adverbs What are adverbs? What is an independent clause? Semicolons before transitional phrases What is a run-on error? Glossary of grammatical terms