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Following our look at compound sentences, here’s a list of those coordinating conjunctions in full. Last post we established that they can join two clauses together to make a compound sentence, but they can also join single words and phrases together too. Here are a few examples:

Nouns: Bill and Ben ate fish and chips

Verbs: He ate and drank a lot.

Adjectives: She was tired but relieved.

Adverbs: He crept up the stairs slowly and quietly.

Phrases: He had to decide whether to stick it out or cut his losses and leave.

Clauses: You should explain what is going on, or you should just leave.

Now let’s look at them one by one. Helpfully, they spell out the acronym FANBOYS:

For

Usually when we use the word ‘for’ we’re using the preposition, which has a number of meanings, and is used in phrases like ‘all for one and one for all’, ‘I did it for you’, ‘Dial M for Murder’, or ‘she’s clever for her age’. The conjunction ‘for’, however, means ‘because’ and sounds a little romantic or literary to a modern ear:

I will never submit to British tyranny, for I am a free-born American!

She could walk no further, for her frail body was cold and weary.

And

Laurel and Hardy were the biggest draw in Hollywood back then.

There you go again, ranting and raving.

I went to the café and bought a cappuccino.

This is a non-smoking house, and that’s how I like it.

 

Nor

This is used when you are introducing a second negative statement.

I don’t know where she came from, nor is it clear why she came.

Also used as a correlative conjunction with neither:

I neither know nor care who she is – she must leave!

 

But

She was firm but fair.

It was tasty, but a bit too sweet.

I kept trying to tell her, but she wouldn’t listen.

Or

You can have curry or pizza for lunch.

Sink or swim.

We can do this the hard way or the easy way.

Let’s hurry, or we’ll miss the start.

Yet

The more common yet is the time adverb, usually meaning ‘up to now’, but the conjunction means ‘but’ or ‘but at the same time’, or ‘nevertheless’.

I did not want to go, yet I felt strangely compelled.

It seems an awfully complicated way to learn, yet that is the way we do it.

So

He noticed that people weren’t laughing at his jokes anymore, so he kept quiet for the rest of the night.

Challenge

Make up a list of quotations to go with a historical character – a real one or someone you have imagined. Each quote must use a coordinating conjunction. Especially try to have a go at for, nor and yet.

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