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CHAPTER 28. CONJUNCTIONS
A conjunction may be used to indicate the relationship between the ideas expressed in a clause and the ideas expressed in the rest of a sentence. The conjunctions in the following examples are printed in bold type.
e.g. We could go to the library, or we could go to the park.
He neither finished his homework nor studied for the test.
I went out because the sun was shining.
1. Coordinate conjunctions
Coordinate conjunctions are used to join two similar grammatical constructions; for instance, two words, two phrases or two clauses.
e.g. My friend and I will attend the meeting.
Austria is famous for the beauty of its landscape and the hospitality of its people.
The sun rose and the birds began to sing.
In these examples, the coordinate conjunction and is used to join the two words friend and I, the two phrases the beauty of its landscape and the hospitality of its people, and the two clauses the sun rose and the birds began to sing.
The most commonly used coordinate conjunctions are and, but and or. In addition, the words nor and yet may be used as coordinate conjunctions. In the following table, each coordinate conjunction is followed by its meaning and an example of its use. Note the use of inverted word order in the clause beginning with nor.
and: in addition She tried and succeeded.
but: however They tried but did not succeed.
or: alternatively Did you go out or stay at home?
nor: and neither I did not see it, nor did they.
yet: however The sun is warm, yet the air is cool.
As illustrated above, when a coordinate conjunction joins two verbs which have the same subject, the subject need not be repeated. For instance, in the example she tried and succeeded, the pronoun she acts as the subject for both the verb tried and the verb succeeded. It should also be noted that when a coordinate conjunction joins two verbs which do not have the same subject, the two coordinate clauses may be separated by a comma or semicolon, in order to make the meaning clear.
See Exercise 1.
2. Correlative conjunctions
Correlative conjunctions are used in pairs, in order to show the relationship between the ideas expressed in different parts of a sentence. For instance, in the following example, the expression either … or is used to indicate that the ideas expressed in the two clauses represent two alternative choices of action.
e.g. Either you should study harder, or you should take a different course.
The most commonly used correlative conjunctions are both … and, either … or and neither … nor. In the table below, each pair of correlative conjunctions is accompanied by an example of its use. Note that in the construction if … then, the word then can usually be omitted.
both … and He is both intelligent and good-natured.
either … or I will either go for a walk or read a book.
neither … nor He is neither rich nor famous.
hardly … when He had hardly begun to work, when he was interrupted.
if … then If that is true, then what happened is not surprising.
no sooner … than No sooner had I reached the corner, than the bus came.
not only … but also She is not only clever, but also hard-working.
rather … than I would rather go swimming than go to the library.
scarcely … when Scarcely had we left home, when it started to rain.
what with … and What with all her aunts, uncles and cousins, she has many relatives.
whether … or Have you decided whether you will come or not?
See Exercise 2.
3. Subordinate conjunctions
As has been seen in previous chapters, subordinate clauses may begin with relative pronouns such as that, what, whatever, which, who and whom, as well as with words such as how, when, where, wherever and why. In the following examples, the subordinate clauses are underlined.
e.g. The house, which stood on a hill, could be seen for miles.
I wonder how he did that.
In addition, subordinate clauses may also begin with words which are commonly referred to as subordinate conjunctions. In the following examples, the subordinate conjunctions are printed in bold type.
e.g. Because it was cold, I wore my winter coat.
Let us wait until the rain stops.
The subordinate conjunctions below are accompanied by their meanings and examples of use.
1. because: As he is my friend, I will help him.
2. when: We watched as the plane took off.
1. later in time: After the train left, we went home.
Although or though
1. in spite of the fact that: Although it was after midnight, we did not feel tired.
1. earlier than: I arrived before the stores were open.
1. for the reason that: We had to wait, because we arrived early.
1. for, because: He is happy, for he enjoys his work.
1. on condition that: If she is here, we will see her.
1. for fear that: I watched closely, lest he make a mistake.
Note the use of the Subjunctive Mood in the clause with lest.
Providing or provided
1. on condition that: All will be well, providing you are careful.
1. from a past time: I have been here since the sun rose.
2. as, because: Since you are here, you can help me.
So or so that
1. consequently: It was raining, so we did not go out.
2. in order that: I am saving money so I can buy a bicycle.
Note: When used with the meaning in order that, so is usually followed by that in formal English.
e.g. I am saving money so that I can buy a bicycle.
1. if: Supposing that happens, what will you do?
1. used in comparisons: He is taller than you are.
1. except when, if not: Unless he helps us, we cannot succeed.
Until or till
1. up to the time when: I will wait until I hear from you.
1. because: Whereas this is a public building, it is open to everyone.
2. on the other hand: He is short, whereas you are tall.
1. if: I do not know whether she was invited.
1. at the time when: While it was snowing, we played cards.
2. on the other hand: He is rich, while his friend is poor.
3. although: While I am not an expert, I will do my best.
In addition, the following phrases are often used at the beginning of subordinate clauses.
1. in a similar way: She talks as if she knows everything.
As long as
1. if: As long as we cooperate, we can finish the work easily.
2. while: He has lived there as long as I have known him.
As soon as
1. immediately when: Write to me as soon as you can.
1. in a similar way: It looks as though there will be a storm.
1. in spite of a possibility: I am going out even if it rains.
1. because of a possibility: Take a sweater in case it gets cold.
1. otherwise: Please be careful, or else you may have an accident.
So as to
1. in order to: I hurried so as to be on time.
See Exercise 3.
Certain words, such as after, before, since and until may function either as prepositions or subordinate conjunctions. However it should be noted that in some cases different words must be used as prepositions and subordinate conjunctions, in order to express similar meanings. This is illustrated in the table below.
Differing Prepositions and Conjunctions
Meaning Preposition Conjunction
for this reason because of because
in spite of this despite although
at the time when during while
in a similar way like as if
In the following examples, the objects of the prepositions, and the verbs of the subordinate clauses are underlined.
Preposition: They were upset because of the delay.
Conjunction: They were upset because they were delayed.
Preposition: Despite the rain, we enjoyed ourselves.
Conjunction: Although it rained, we enjoyed ourselves.
Preposition: We stayed indoors during the storm.
Conjunction: We stayed indoors while the storm raged.
Preposition: It looks like rain.
Conjunction: It looks as if it will rain.
In the above examples, it can be seen that the prepositions because of, despite, during and like have the noun objects delay, rain and storm; whereas the subordinate conjunctions because, although, while and as if introduce subordinate clauses containing the verbs were delayed, rained, raged and will rain.
It should be noted that like is sometimes used as a subordinate conjunction in informal English.
e.g. It looks like it will rain.
However, this use of like is considered incorrect in formal English.
See Exercise 4.
4. Connecting adverbs
Connecting adverbs are often used to show the relationship between the ideas expressed in a clause and the ideas expressed in a preceding clause, sentence or paragraph. In the following examples, the connecting adverbs are printed in bold type.
e.g. I wanted to study; however, I was too tired.
We knew what to expect. Therefore, we were not surprised at what happened.
In the first example, the connecting adverb however shows that there is a conflict between the idea expressed in the clause I was too tired and the idea expressed in the preceding clause I wanted to study. In the second example, the connecting adverb therefore shows that there is a cause and effect relationship between the idea expressed in the sentence we knew what to expect, and the clause we were not surprised at what happened.
Connecting adverbs are similar to conjunctions in that both may be used to introduce clauses. However, the use of connecting adverbs differs from that of conjunctions in the ways indicated below.
a. Stress and punctuation
In spoken English, a connecting adverb is usually given more stress than a conjunction. Correspondingly, in formal written English a connecting adverb is usually separated from the rest of a clause by commas, whereas a conjunction is usually not separated from the rest of a clause by commas.
In addition, in formal written English a clause containing a connecting adverb is often separated from a preceding clause by a semicolon; whereas a clause beginning with a conjunction is usually not separated from a preceding clause by a semicolon.
e.g. I wanted to study; however, I was too tired.
I wanted to study, but I was too tired.
In the first example, the connecting adverb however is preceded by a semicolon, and is separated from I was too tired by a comma. In the second example, the conjunction but is preceded by a comma rather than by a semicolon, and is not separated from I was too tired by a comma.
It should be noted that when no conjunction is present, a semicolon may be used to connect two main clauses. For example:
The clouds dispersed; the moon rose.
In this example, the two main clauses the clouds dispersed and the moon rose are connected by a semicolon rather than by a conjunction.
b. Connecting adverbs used to connect sentences
Unlike conjunctions, connecting adverbs may be used in formal English to show the relationship between ideas expressed in separate sentences. For example:
The wind was strong. Thus, I felt very cold.
In this example, the connecting adverb thus shows that there is a cause and effect relationship between the ideas expressed by the two sentences the wind was strong and I felt very cold.
In informal English, coordinate conjunctions are sometimes used to show the relationship between the ideas expressed in separate sentences. For example:
The wind was strong. And I felt very cold.
However, this use of coordinate conjunctions is considered to be grammatically incorrect in formal English.
c. Position in a clause
A subordinate conjunction must usually be placed at the beginning of a clause. However, as was seen in the discussion on adverbs, a connecting adverb may be placed at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a clause. This is illustrated below.
e.g. His visit was unexpected. Nevertheless, I was pleased to see him.
His visit was unexpected. I was, nevertheless, pleased to see him.
His visit was unexpected. I was pleased to see him, nevertheless.
d. Examples of connecting adverbs
The following are examples of words which may be used as connecting adverbs. Each connecting adverb is followed by its meaning and an example of its use.
accordingly: so He was very persuasive; accordingly, I did what he asked.
also: in addition She is my neighbor; she is also my best friend.
besides: in addition I like the job. Besides, I need the money.
consequently: so She had a fever; consequently, she stayed at home.
furthermore: in addition You should stop smoking. Furthermore, you should do it at once!
hence: for that reason He is a good friend. Hence, I was not embarrassed to ask him for help.
however: but We wanted to arrive on time; however, we were delayed by traffic.
likewise: in addition The region is beautiful. Likewise, the climate is excellent.
moreover: in addition She is very intelligent; moreover, she is very ambitious.
nevertheless: but They are proud. Nevertheless, I like them.
nonetheless: but The ascent was dangerous. Nonetheless, he decided to attempt it.
otherwise: if not, or else We should consult them; otherwise, they may be upset.
still: but It is a long way to the beach. Still, it is a fine day to go swimming.
then: 1. next, afterwards We went shopping, then we had lunch.
2. so If you are sure, then I must believe you.
therefore: for that reason I was nervous; therefore, I could not do my best.
thus: so, in this way He travelled as quickly as possible. Thus, he reached Boston the next day.
As indicated in the following table, several connecting adverbs have meanings similar to those of the conjunctions and, but or so.
Connecting Adverbs with meanings similar to And, But and So
Similar to And Similar to But Similar to So
also however accordingly
besides nevertheless consequently
furthermore nonetheless hence
likewise still therefore
See Exercises 5 and 6.
5. Parallel construction
The repetition of a particular grammatical construction is often referred to as parallel construction. This is illustrated in the following examples.
e.g. I am neither angry nor excited.
The resort contains tennis courts, swimming pools and a snack bar.
In the first example, the two phrases neither angry and nor excited exhibit parallel construction. In the second example, the three phrases tennis courts, swimming pools and a snack bar exhibit parallel construction.
In English, it is considered preferable to use parallel construction whenever parallel ideas are expressed.
Thus, whenever possible, parallel construction should be employed when correlative conjunctions are used. In the following example, the correlative conjunctions are printed in bold type.
e.g. Incorrect: He has both a good education, and he has good work habits.
Corrected: He has both a good education and good work habits.
The first sentence is incorrect, since both and and are followed by different grammatical constructions. Both is followed by the phrase a good education; whereas and is followed by the clause he has good work habits. The second sentence has been corrected by changing the clause he has good work habits into the phrase good work habits.
The following example illustrates the use of parallel construction with the correlative conjunctions neither … nor.
e.g. Incorrect: She turned neither right nor to the left.
Corrected: She turned neither right nor left.
or Corrected: She turned neither to the right nor to the left.
The first sentence is incorrect, since neither is followed by a single word; whereas nor is followed by a prepositional phrase. The second sentence has been corrected by changing the phrase to the left to the word left. Alternatively, as shown in the third sentence, two prepositional phrases can be used.
See Exercise 7.
Parallel construction should also be used when listing a series of ideas. For example:
Incorrect: The hotel is charming, well-situated and is not expensive.
Corrected: The hotel is charming, well-situated and inexpensive.
The first sentence is incorrect, since the first two items in the series, charming and well-situated, are adjectives, whereas the last item, is not expensive, contains a verb. The second sentence has been corrected by changing is not expensive to the adjective inexpensive.
The following is another example of the use of parallel construction when listing a series of ideas.
e.g. Incorrect: I like to ski, skating and swimming.
Corrected: I like skiing, skating and swimming.
The first sentence is incorrect, since the first item in the series, to ski, is an infinitive, whereas the second and third items, skating and swimming, are gerunds. The second sentence has been corrected by changing the infinitive to ski to the gerund skiing.
See Exercise 8.
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