Can I Join You?
Often used when writing is too staccato, clipped, or choppy, coordinating conjunctions can be used to balance simple sentences. But be careful! Too many conjunctions can result in loose writing that can be considered trite, monotonous, and flavorless.
Keep your readers happy and focused by using these coordinating conjunction tips.
What Is a Conjunction?
For those who need a refresher, a conjunction is a connecting word and is often described as a “joiner.” The most popular conjunctions are coordinating conjunctions (e.g., and). However, there are other conjunction families, such as subordinating conjunctions (e.g., that) and correlative conjunctions (e.g., if … then), waiting to be used (and abused).
Simple conjunctions used to give equal emphasis between words, phrases, clauses, or sentences of equal rank are coordinating conjunctions. A common acronym to remember this family of conjunctions is FANBOYS (for and nor but or yet so).
Coordinating conjunctions join two independent clauses and are usually accompanied by a comma.
The soybean farmer loves to go bungee jumping, but he will never go without his lucky hamster.
When a coordinating conjunction accompanies two well-balanced (interrelated) independent clauses, a comma isn’t necessary.
Frederic, the turtle, played the violin and he was often employed by couples on their first date.
The coordinating conjunction and is used before the last item in a simple series.
Samuel loves his cooking, his family, and his cat.
For emphasis, a coordinating conjunction can be used (instead of a comma) to connect items in a simple series.
Steven ate 6 hotdogs and 5 hamburgers and 16 steaks – it’s no wonder why his bad cholesterol is so high!
Coordinating conjunctions are used to join two words or phrases.
After reflecting on her favorite superheroes, Jenny realized neither Captain America nor the Hulk wore a cape.
Additional Coordinating Conjunction Tips
- You can use And or But at the beginning of a sentence if the sentence cannot function without it and it isn’t connected to the previous sentence. Just don’t overdo it! Beginning with a conjunction excessively can make your writing look incompetent.
- Semicolons shouldn’t be used in the presence of a coordinating conjunction unless there is extensive punctuation required in one or more individual clauses. [Learn more]
- Don’t capitalize coordinating conjunctions in titles, unless the word is four or more letters. [Learn more]
Loose (Joiners) vs. Simple (Sentences)
Make sure your writing is well balanced by employing both simple sentences as well as joiners to avoid appearing too loose (borderline verbose) or too simple (short and choppy).
Too Simple …
Bricklaying is a masonry skill. It should be left to the professionals. Most people think bricklaying is a simple task. One day, the time comes to do the actual bricklaying. But it is not as simple as it looks.
Too Loose …
Bricklaying is a masonry skill and it should be left to the professionals even though most people think bricklaying is a simple task, until one day, the time comes to do the actual bricklaying, but it is not as simple as it looks.
Find balance! For emphasis or to drive a point home, use a simple sentence. For exposition or clarifying descriptions, use joiner sentences. Above all, explore how you can construct an engaging sentence by experimenting with conjunctions, punctuation, and more.
A Well-Balanced Version …
Bricklaying is a masonry skill that should be left to the professionals. Most people think bricklaying is a simple task, but the day will come to do the actual bricklaying and that’s when they know … It is not as simple as it looks!
Use these coordinating conjunction and well-balanced sentence tips to keep your readers engaged. We’ll be exploring more joiners and the conjunction family in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!