Classes of Conjunctions

There are two classes of Conjunctions:

  • Co-ordinating Conjunctions

  • Subordinating Conjunctions

What are Co-ordinating Conjunctions?

Co-ordinating Conjunctions - they join together clauses of equal rank, i.e. coordinating clauses.

Co-ordinating clauses have their own independent meaning and can stand on their own.

Birds fly and fish swim.

The chief Co-ordinating Conjunctions are:

and, or, but, for, while, nor, also, either-or, neither-nor, yet, then, as well as, with, together with, without, besides, alongwith, not only…but also, not merely…but also, whether…or, else, or else, still, so, therefore, otherwise, nonetheless, however, nevertheless, hence, thus, whereas etc.

Clauses of equal rank status

  • Subject - Subject
  • Object – Object
  • Compliment – Compliment
  • Preposition – Preposition
  • Verb – Verb
  • Adjective – Adjective
  • Adverb – Adverb

Either Meenakshi will dance or sing with me. (incorrect)
Meenakshi will either dance or sing with me. (correct)

Our company not only manufactures keyboards but also headphones. (incorrect)
Our company manufactures not only keyboards but also headphones. (correct)

Replacement of Co-ordinating Conjunctions

Most of the Co-ordinating Conjunctions may be replaced with a comma, semicolon, or colon (except ‘or’, ‘nor’).

Aanya went out to play but Geetanjali stayed in to work.
Aanya went out to play; Geetanjali stayed in to work.

Types of Co-ordinating Conjunctions

Co-ordinating Conjunctions are of four kinds:

Cumulative or Copulative Conjunctions

They just add one statement to another or one word to another (two nouns, two pronouns, two adjectives etc).

She is rich and happy. (and connecting two adjectives – rich, happy)

Adversative Conjunctions

They express opposition or contrast between two statements.

This is a slow, but certain method.
I was humiliated, still I did not react.

Disjunctive or Alternative Conjunctions

They express a choice between two alternatives.

She must admit her crime, or she will get a harsher punishment.
Work quickly, else you will not be able to deliver the project on time.

Illative Conjunctions

They join two actions in which one action is the result of the other action (i.e. they express an inference).

All precautions must have been neglected in Italy, for the covid-19 spread rapidly.

What are Subordinating Conjunctions?

Subordinating Conjunction – it joins sub-ordinating clause with main clause.

The main Subordinating Conjunctions are:

after, because, if, that, in order that, so that, unless, until, till, since, ever since, before, after, as long as, as soon as, that, so long as, because, as, as if, even if, even though, though, although, hardly…when, if, whether, scarcely…when, no sooner…than, lest, provided that, supposing, in case, when, whenever, where, who, whoever, however, while.

As soon as the speech started, the demonstrators rushed to the platform.
(As soon as the speech started – subordinate clause; the demonstrators rushed to the platform – main clause)

‘than’ – it is also a Subordinating Conjunction.

I like you better than she (likes you).
I like you better than (I like) her.

Types of Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating Conjunctions may be classified according to their meaning:


when, whenever, till, until, before, since, while, as soon as, as long as, just as, after

The patient died before I could do anything.
Many things have happened since we met last year.


where, wherever

We can play wherever we want.

Cause or Reason: since, because, as

Since you have asked for it, it will be provided to you.
My apprehensions are becoming a reality, because my son is performing poorly in academics.
As my manager was not there, I spoke to his assistant.

If ‘as’ and ‘since’ denote a reason, they are not followed by ‘so’

As he was ill, so he could not play. (incorrect)
As he was ill, he could not play. (correct)

Since she is a liar, so we cannot trust him. (incorrect)
Since she is a liar, we cannot trust him. (correct)


that, so that, in order that, lest

We work so that we may grow.
She taught me lest I should fail.

Result or Consequence

so … that, such … that

She was so hurt that she could hardly hold back her tears.


if, supposing, unless, provided

I will resign if Mayank resigns.
We will lose the match unless we improve our run rate.


though, although

Though he cheated me, yet I will give him a second chance.
A claim is a claim, although there’s no substance in it.


as, as … as, so … as, than

Hawking was as creative as Einstein in thought experiments.
A wise enemy is better than a foolish friend.

as … as / so … as is used to make a comparison between two person or things. While ‘as…as’ can be used in both affirmative and negative sentences, but ‘so … as’ is used only in negative sentences.

She is as good a student as you. (Affirmative sentence)
She is not as good a student as you. (Negative sentence)
She is not so good a student as you. (Negative sentence)

Words that can work both as subordinating and coordinating conjunction

Few words can function both as subordinating and coordinating conjunction, depending on what meaning they convey.

Let’s see some of such words.


However is a:

  • coordinating conjunction – when it means ‘even though/but’
    Mayank is very hard-working, however there seems to be some fault in his stars. (as ‘however’ is a coordinating conjunction here, so we cannot put it in the beginning)

  • subordinating conjunction - when it means ‘no matter how much’
    However difficult my life is, I will make it a grand success.


While is a:

  • coordinating conjunction – when it means ‘whereas’
    Your dog is cute while mine is ugly. (as ‘while’ is a coordinating conjunction here, so we cannot put it in the beginning)

  • subordinating conjunction - when it means ‘during’
    While I was studying, he was playing in the backyard.

Position of subordinating conjunctions

We can put a subordinating conjunction anywhere.

  • $Clause_1$ + Subordinating conjunction + $Clause_2$ = meaningful
  • Subordinating conjunction + $Clause_2$ + $Clause_1$ = meaningful

My manager thinks I am satisfied because I don’t complain. (correct)

Because I don’t complain, my manager thinks I am satisfied. (correct)
(Because I don’t complain - sub-ordinate clause; because – subordinating conjunction)

Position of coordinating conjunctions

If we put a coordinating conjunction at the beginning then it will be meaningless. Though we can place a coordinating conjunction anywhere in the middle.

  • $Clause_1$ + Coordinating conjunction + $Clause_2$ = meaningful
  • Coordinating conjunction + $Clause_2$ + $Clause_1$ = meaningless

Extra Books and Tools

If you prefer to learn via books, or want some good English Grammar books for reference purposes, you may read this article which enlists some of the books recommended by us.
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