With Twitter and texting, I imagine that the world of Conjunctions might well be fading away. Sentences are rapidly becoming monosyllabic in this Millennial world. The era of passionate discourse (hate speech isn’t passionate, it’s just hate), romance, adventure, and riveting soliloquy may well lack a real future. Do Conjunctions have such power?

Well, let’s take a look at a few of them:

after, although, and, as, as soon as, because, before, but, by the time, even if, even though, every time, for, if, in case, in order that, in the event that, just in case, nor, now that, once, only if, or, provided that, rather than, since, so, so that, than, that, though, until, when, whenever, where, whereas, wherever, whether, whether or not, while, why, yet.

Now, open up one of your favorite novels, cross out all the conjunctions, and start reading. How’s it going?

Conjunctions are those words that connect people and things, which is the basic discourse of human action and word. There is no life in being without being in some relationship to someone else or something else. Conjunctions coordinate people and things. A Conjunction provides rationale, notes similarities and contrasts, points out exceptions and alternatives, adjudicates, indicates primacy and subordinacy, and sets forth consequences. I know of no other linguistic class that enriches and thrills one’s life more so than the conjunctions between man, woman, and the world about them. Poetry is poetry because of them. Shakespeare is ardent, wistful, and deadly because of them. Landing on the moon is monumental because of them.

Their angling is prodigious. “Maria left Donnybrook Castle after the murder.” A fine sentence of intrigue (here the word after acts as a Preposition), but do we not have more intrigue when it reads, “Maria left Donnybrook Castle after she murdered her uncle.”? Ah, now we have woven two actions of detail together with a Conjunction. All the more powerful and informative.

It would do each of us well to start noticing the Conjunctions in our lives, though let them not keep you from a restful sleep as the dusk gives way to the night.

I might suggest bringing Conjunctions into the lives of your students slowly; starting with the most obvious of them: and, but, if, for. From there, just move along, but remember, other languages have different usages for their similar conjunctions, so expect some confusion at the beginning.


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Three Types