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Difference between transitional adverbs and conjunctions

Besides transitional adverbs, conjunctions and prepositions are used to indicate the rhetorical structure of a piece of writing. The grammatical properties of conjunctions and prepositions are different from those of transitional adverbs. Although transitional adverbs indicate relationships between sentences and paragraphs, they do not connect them grammatically.

In other words, transitional adverbs are not required grammatically. Even if you remove them, there would be no ungrammaticality. Of course, some meaning would be lost and the reader will have to infer some of the ideas.

Read the following pairs of sentences.

  • She was tired of living in poverty. Therefore, she decided to find a job.

Now consider removing the transitional adverb ‘therefore’.

  • She was tired of living in poverty. She decided to find a job.

The sentence still makes sense, doesn’t it?

Conjunctions, on the other hand, are used to join words or clauses together. They become a part of the sentence and cannot be removed without causing ungrammaticality.

The various subordinate conjunctions that form adverb clauses are listed below.

When, while, since, as, once

The conjunctions when, while, since, as and once are used to introduce adverb clauses of time.

  • While I was younger, I used to work three jobs in a day.
  • When he was in college, he distributed newspapers.
  • Where have you been since I last saw you?
  • As I opened my eyes, I saw a strange sight.
  • Once you have passed your driving test, I will buy you a car.


Where is used to introduce adverb clauses of place.

  • Put the keys where you will find them easily.
  • A shopping mall now stands where a temple once stood.

Because and since

The conjunctions because and since are used to introduce adverb clauses of reason or cause.

  • I started a blog because I wanted to improve my writing skills.
  • I went to the doctor because I was not feeling well.
  • Since she gets upset easily, I always treat her kindly.
  • Since I have broken my leg, I can’t walk.

While, even though, though

These conjunctions are used to introduce adverb clauses showing contrast or concession.

  • While my childhood was blissful, my adulthood is quite stressful.
  • Even though she had all the money in the world, she was never happy.
  • Though I want to lose weight, I can’t go on a diet.

Just as, like, in that

The conjunctions just as and like are used to show similarity.

  • She is just as beautiful as her mother.
  • The job was just as rewarding as I expected.
  • She looks exactly like her mother did when was younger.
  • Nobody understands her like I do.

Note that this use of like as a conjunction is not considered correct in formal or academic English. Instead, structures with as are used.

  • Nobody understands her as I do.

In that is used to give an explanation.

  • The giraffe is an ungainly animal in that it has a long neck.


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