What is a Coordinating Conjunction? Definition, Examples of Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunction definition: A coordinating conjunction is a conjunction that is placed between words, phrases, or clauses of equal rank. They are most commonly uses to join two independent clauses or to join items in a list.

What Are Coordinating Conjunctions?

A coordinating conjunction connects grammatical words or phrases of equal rank. For example, if you want to join together two independent clauses (clauses that can stand alone as their own sentence), a comma and coordinating conjunction must be added in order to form a grammatically correct sentence.

Additionally, coordinating conjunctions can be used when listing a series of two or more items in a sentence.

Coordinating conjunctions should not be confused with subordinating conjunctions, which are used to combine independent clauses to dependent clauses in to form a complex sentence.

What is the Purpose of a Coordinating Conjunction?

Coordinating conjunctions connect clauses or items of equal importance together.

Coordinating Conjunction Examples:

What is coordinating conjunctionExamples of sentences with coordinating conjunctions where both clauses hold equal importance:

  • Dancing is my favorite hobby, and I take lessons every Thursday evening.
    • Dancing is my favorite hobby = independent clause
    • And = coordinating conjunction
    • I take lessons every Thursday = independent clause
  • Christopher applied to work at a bookstore, but they chose to hire someone with more experience.
    • Christopher applied to work at a bookstore = independent clause
    • But = coordinating conjunction
    • They chose to hire someone with more experience = independent clause

Each of the above example sentences is constructed of two independent clauses. In order to combine these independent clauses in a grammatically sound way, we add a comma and a coordinating conjunction.

Examples of sentences with coordinating conjunctions connecting items:

  • I went to the store to buy socks, shoes, and pants.
    • Socks, shoes, pants = items of equal importance
    • And = coordinating conjunction
  • Josh was trying to choose between the tacos or quesadilla.
    • Taco or quesadilla = items of equal importance
    • Or = coordinating conjunction

When using coordinating conjunctions, the items on either side of the conjunction are of equal grammatical importance. This means that if an independent clause is on one side of the conjunction, an independent clause must also be on the other side of the conjunction.

  • I tried going to the store, but I lost my keys.

In this example, the clauses on either side of the conjunction are independent clauses.

This contrasts with subordinating conjunctions, which connect a subordinate, or dependent, clause to the main, independent clause, which holds more importance.

  • Although dancing is a hobby of mine, I spend more leisure time playing basketball.
    • Even though = subordinating conjunction
    • Even though dancing is a hobby of mine = dependent clause
    • I spend more leisure time playing basketball = main clause
  • If you don’t mind bringing the condiments, I will bring the hamburgers and hotdogs.
    • If = subordinating conjunction
    • If you don’t mind bringing the condiments = dependent clause
    • I will bring the hamburgers and hot dogs = main clause

Coordinating Conjunctions List

coordinating conjunction examples listWhat are the coordinating conjunctions? You may recall learning the acronym FANBOYS in elementary school a tool to remember the full list of coordinating conjunctions. It’s still helpful in remembering them all.

List of Coordinating Conjunction:

  • F = For
  • A = And
  • N = Nor
  • B = But
  • O = Or
  • Y = Yet
  • S = So

How to Punctuate Using Coordinating Conjunctions

Here are some hints when determining what punctuation should be used with your coordinating conjunctions.

Connecting two main clauses: To separate two main clauses, place a comma then the conjunction between each clause.

  • College can be a great learning opportunity, so students should take advantage of this option after high school.
    • College can be a great learning opportunity = main clause
    • So = coordinating conjunction
    • Students should take advantage of this option after high school = main clause

Connecting two items: To connect two items of equal importance, place a coordinating conjunction between the two items. No comma is needed.

  • Jason needs a new television and stereo.
    • television = item 1
    • and = coordinating conjunction
    • stereo = item 2

Connecting three or more items: When connecting three or more items in a list, put commas after each item and a coordinating conjunction before the last item in the list.

  • At the dinner party, Reese plans to serve pizza, salad, and brownies.
    • Pizza, salad, brownies = items in the list
    • And = coordinating conjunction

Can You Start a Sentence With a Conjunction?

what is a coordinating conjunction example Starting a sentence with a conjunction: You may remember your teacher telling you not to start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction.

This is still good general advice.

In most cases, you should not start your sentences this way. It’s a hallmark of a novice writer to see sentence after sentence beginning with conjunctions.

However, there is nothing inherently wrong or ungrammatical with the practice. The only question is one of style and strength of writing as to when a writer should or should not employ it. At times, starting a sentence with a conjunction may fit the style of your writing. The clearness and directness of it can be a strength of its own.

That said, be careful to limit the number of sentences you start with conjunctions, as it can be overdone. For instance, it’s not, generally speaking, a good idea to start multiple successive sentences with conjunctions.

How to Start a Sentence With a Conjunction

Here are a few examples of how you might start a sentence with a conjunction.

  • But I will let you go to the movies if you clean your room.
    • But = coordinating conjunction
  • And please don’t forget to pick the kids up after school today.
    • And = coordinating conjunction
  • So now that you have heard the report, do you still want to sell your house?
    • So = coordinating conjunction

In general, you do not need a comma after the conjunction when starting a sentence.

Summary: What’s a Coordinating Conjunction?

Define coordinating conjunction: Coordinating conjunctions are used to join independent clauses or to join items in a list.

Final Coordinating Conjunction Example:

  • Lisa considered herself to be successful, yet she couldn’t help but wonder what her life would’ve been like if she had graduate from college.
    • Lisa considered herself to be successful = main clause
    • Yet = coordinating conjunction
    • She couldn’t help but wonder what her life would’ve been like if she had graduate from college = main clause