English grammar teachers love to teach lessons on conditional conjunctions because they serve such an important function in our writing. There are only a few different types of conjunctions in the English language, but we use them quite frequently in both the written and spoken word, often without considering the fact that they are conjunctions.
"If" is a commonly used conditional conjunction. In truth, it's easy to mistake it for an article. It's short and sweet, just like, "a," "an," and "the." Yet, conditional conjunctions serve a far more important role. Let's discuss how to spot them and how they work in everyday language.
Before diving into conditional conjunctions, it's helpful to review what a conjunction is first. All conjunctions join words, phrases, and clauses together smoothly. "And" and "but" win the popularity contest for generic conjunctions. They are coordinating conjunctions.
Words such as these make it possible for two different ideas to hinge upon each other in one complete sentence. With conjunctions, we're able to write more complex and interesting ideas.
Conditional conjunctions, in short, are used to describe a condition. It's really that simple. Common examples of conditional conjunctions include:
By using these conjunctions, we're showing that one clause in a sentence is dependent upon the other. We often use conditional conjunctions to describe hypothetical situations or to explain why something has happened, will happen, or is currently happening.
Ask yourself, am I trying to explain that something will happen on the condition that another thing will happen? If so, you'll probably use a conditional conjunction to express that idea in a sentence.
Here are a few sample sentences that use conditional conjunctions to join two ideas together.
In each of these sample sentences, the structure indicates that the second part of the sentence is a result of the first part of the sentence.
It's also worth mentioning that each clause containing the conditional conjunction is a dependent clause. That it, it can't stand alone as a complete sentence. Meanwhile, the second half of each sentence is an independent clause and can stand alone as a compete thought.
The best way to get a handle on conditional conjunctions is to practice using them in sentences. For example, take a look at the following paragraph. Can you spot all of the conditional conjunctions? The answers are at the bottom of the page.
Since it's spring, there are many flowers in the garden. You can pick one if you'd like! They smell so good because I take great care of them. Unless you lack the capacity to smell, you'll probably enjoy the way the roses smell. Once you fetch my scissors, I'll cut some for you to take home!
For a longer list of conditional conjunctions with sample sentences, check out Examples of Conditional Conjunctions.
That classic jingle, "Conjunction Junction," was a masterpiece. We can hear it now: "Conjunction junction, what's your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses."
Without conjunctions, we'd be forced to write in short, staccato sentences. Now, our world is open to the possibility of compound sentences and truly unique, detailed thoughts.
If you're planning to continue to explore the wonderful world of conjunctions, enjoy this article on Teaching Conjunctions. It'll help you lay it all out for your learners, one piece of the puzzle at a time.
Practice paragraph answers:
Since, if, because, unless, once