These words tend to be small, including words like “and,” “so,” “for,” and “but.” However, they serve a very large function. They connect sweeping ideas together, forming cohesive, comprehensive ideas.
No longer is there a need to write in short, choppy sentences. Coordinating conjunctions are here to save the day.
The English language has seven coordinating conjunctions, and they’re easy to remember if you can just remember the acronym FANBOYS:
For - Explains reason or purpose (just like “because”)
I go to the park every Sunday, for I long to see his face.
And - Adds one thing to another
I like to read, and I write faithfully in my journal every night.
Nor - Used to present an alternative negative idea to an already stated negative idea
I neither love nor hate to watch TV.
But - Shows contrast
Television is a wonderful escape, but it interferes with my writing.
Or - Presents an alternative or a choice
Would you rather read a book or watch a good TV show?
Yet - Introduces a contrasting idea that follows the preceding idea logically (similar to “but”)
I always take a book to the beach, yet I never seem to turn a single page.
So - Indicates effect, result or consequence
I like to read, so my grammar is always on-point.
You’ll notice that, in the example sentences, some of the coordinating conjunctions are preceded by a comma while others are not. There is a very simple reason for this.
If a coordinating conjunction is joining together two independent clauses, it needs to have a comma with it. Independent clauses have the ability to stand alone as complete sentences.
Let’s review the example for “but.” Television is a wonderful escape, but it interferes with my writing. Because these are two independent clauses, they must be joined together by a comma and a coordinating conjunction. If you’re really looking to get fancy, here are 8 times commas were important.
Another misconception is that it’s incorrect to begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction. While this is a good rule of thumb, it’s not a hard and fast rule of grammar.
You might want to limit how often you begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction, but it’s not incorrect to do so, especially if it’ll break up a particularly long sentence into more understandable chunks.
Coordinating conjunctions are the simplest of all the conjunctions to recognize and master. Knowing how they work will improve the quality and complexity of your writing. So, if that’s what you’re after, consider yourself fully equipped! And, while you’re on such a winning streak, feel free to explore the two other types of conjunctions: