Conjunctions are words that join other words or clauses together.
- God made the country and man made the town.
- He was poor but he was honest.
- She must weep or she will die.
- John and Mary got married.
Conjunctions not only join clauses together; they also show how the meanings of the two clauses are related.
- I decided to consult a doctor because I was not feeling well. (cause)
- He is slow but he is sure. (contrast)
- Ann wrote the letters and Peter posted them. (addition)
- Either take it or leave it. (alternative)
- He is very wealthy, yet very unhappy. (contrast)
- You can have tea or coffee.
A conjunction and its clause can sometimes stand alone. This happens, for example, in answers.
- When are you going to start? When I am ready.
- Why are you crying? Because John beat me.
Afterthoughts may also begin with conjunctions.
- Ok, I did it. – But I didn’t mean it.
Writers and speakers may also separate clauses for emphasis.
Some conjunctions are made up of two or more words.
- He looks as if he were on the brink of a breakdown.
- It looks as though it is going to rain.
- As soon as I finish this book, I will start another.
- We started early so that we might not miss the show.
Relative pronouns as conjunctions
Relative pronouns (who, which and that) join clauses like conjunctions.
- I saw a beggar who was deaf and dumb.
In the above sentence who stands for the beggar – hence it is a pronoun. It also connects the two sentences I saw a beggar and He was deaf and dumb – hence it is a conjunction.
A relative pronoun is the subject or object of the verb that comes after it. So we do not need another subject or object.
- Trust no man who does not love his country. (NOT Trust no man who he does not …)
- The snake which we could not kill crept into a hole. (NOT The snake which we could not kill it crept …)