Common mistakes in the use of conjunctions

Conjunctions are connecting devices. We use them to connect two or more words, phrases or clauses. Common mistakes in the use of conjunctions are explained in this lesson.

Incorrect: Hurry up, else you will not miss the train.

Correct: Hurry up, else you will miss the train.

‘Else’ or ‘or else’ is a conjunction. It means ‘otherwise’.

Incorrect: You must act now nor you will miss the opportunity.

Correct: You must act now or you will miss the opportunity.

Incorrect: Neither he nor his brother are capable of doing this.

Correct: Neither he nor his brother is capable of doing this.

After ‘neither…nor’, you need a singular verb if the expression after ‘nor’ is singular in number.

Incorrect: Neither the engineer nor his assistants was able to solve the problem.

Correct: Neither the engineer nor his assistants were able to solve the problem.

We use a plural verb when the noun after ‘nor’ is plural in number.

Incorrect: Although it is not raining, but I will take my umbrella.

Correct: Although it is not raining, I will take my umbrella.

Correct: It is not raining, but I will take my umbrella.

We need just one conjunction to connect two clauses.

Incorrect: He will not come unless you don’t invite him.

Correct: He will not come unless you invite him.

Correct: He will not come if you don’t invite him.

Unless means ‘if not’.

Incorrect: You will fail unless you don’t attend the classes regularly.

Correct: You will fail unless you attend the classes regularly.

Correct: You will fail if you don’t attend the classes regularly.

Incorrect: Scarcely had I finished my dinner than the police arrived.

Correct: Scarcely had I finished my dinner when the police arrived.

Note the pattern: scarcely…when

Incorrect: No sooner had I put the phone down when it started ringing again.

Correct: No sooner had I put the phone down than it started ringing again.

Note the pattern: no sooner…than

Sooner is in the comparative degree. Naturally it requires the comparative form than after it.

After ‘scarcely’ and ‘no sooner’, we can use ‘had’ or ‘did’. The patterns are different.

Study the examples given below.

Scarcely had she finished one project when she started working on another.

OR

Scarcely did she finish one project when she started working on another.

Incorrect: Unless you don’t show me the results, I won’t believe you.

Correct: Unless you show me the results, I won’t believe you.

Correct: If you don’t show me the results, I won’t believe you.

Incorrect: Be careful lest you will fall off the ladder.

Correct: Be careful lest you should fall off the ladder.

Should is the only auxiliary that can be used after lest.

Incorrect: Supposing if it rains, what will we do?

Correct: Supposing it rains, what will we do?

Correct: If it rains, what will we do?

Both ‘supposing’ and ‘if’ indicate a condition. So, use only one of them in a sentence.

Incorrect: Until you don’t come I will wait for you.

Correct: Until you come I will wait for you.

Incorrect: I like neither James or Peter.

Correct: I like neither James nor Peter.

Incorrect: I don’t know whether she accepts our offer.

Correct: I don’t know whether she will accept our offer.

When the verb in the main clause is in the present tense, we need a future tense in the subordinate clause to indicate future.

Incorrect: I was too happy when I received your letter.

Correct: I was very happy when I received your letter.

‘Too’ means more than is necessary or wanted. It has a negative meaning.

Incorrect: She is intelligent and beautiful to.

Correct: She is intelligent and beautiful too.

Incorrect: He ran as wind and won the race.

Correct: He ran like wind and won the race.

As is a conjunction. It should be followed by a clause. Like is a preposition. It should be followed by a noun.

Incorrect: He worked hard and he won the first prize.

Correct: He worked hard and won the first prize.

Both clauses have the same subject. In such cases avoid the repetition of the subject in the second clause.

Incorrect: He ate not for he wanted to eat but for he liked eating.

Correct: He ate not because he wanted to eat but because he liked eating.

Incorrect: I didn’t get married and my sister didn’t get married.

Correct: I didn’t get married and my sister didn’t either.

Correct: I didn’t get married and neither did my sister. / I didn’t get married; neither did my sister.

Incorrect: I didn’t go and she didn’t go.

Correct: I didn’t go and she didn’t either.

Correct: I didn’t go and neither did she. / I didn’t go; neither did she.

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Manjusha

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets. You may also want to check out my other blogs IELTS Practice and NCERT Guides

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