A "conjunction" is a word used to join sentences or words. This is simple but complications arise. Sometimes a conjunction may appear to join just words. In the sentence "The King and Queen began to reign." it would appear that the conjunction "and" joins the words "King" and "Queen". In fact it joins two sentences that are, for convenience, combined into one. These are: "The King began to reign" and "the Queen began to reign". A conjunction can join just two words when any attempt to make a join of two sentences is absurd. We can say "Two and three make five" but not two makes five and three makes five". Confusion between a preposition and a conjunction should not arise if it is remembered that the former always governs a noun or noun equivalent whereas a latter joins but does not govern.

Difficulty can arise in trying to distinguish between conjunctions and relative adverbs.

  1. The day on which she arrived. Relative pronoun.
  2. The day when she arrived. Relative Adverb.
  3. We left when she arrived. Subordinating conjunction.

In (1) a relative adverb is equivalent to a relative pronoun governed by a preposition. At (2) both a relative pronoun and a relative adverb have a noun as their antecedent. With (3) a conjunction has no antecedent noun, it simply joins.

Conjunction phrases are groups of words used instead of single conjunctions.

  1. Mary and William were there. Conjunction.
  2. Mary as well as William was there. Conjunction phrase.
  3. Do so if she comes. Conjunction.
  4. Do so in case she comes Conjunction phrase.

There are also "co-ordinating" and "subordinating" conjunctions:

  1. Co-ordinating conjunctions join parts of a sentence that are of equal rank.
  2. Subordinating conjunctions join noun clauses and adverb clauses with the rest of a complex sentence.
This finishes the parts of speech known as "joining words".













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