What are English Conjunctions and how do I use them?

Do you find that your English writing is repetitive with lots of very short sentences? In that case you need to use conjunctions in your writing to join your sentences together and make them flow more smoothly. So, how do we use conjunctions in English? First, let’s take a look at a text with few conjunctions and very short sentences.

Some sentences are short. Some sentences can be very long. Both types are useful. If you use only short sentences all the time, it can be boring to read. If you use only long sentences all the time it can be confusing to read. People will soon lose interest in what you have to say.

Longer (not long) sentences can add colour to your story. Longer sentences can add variety to your sentence. Longer sentences can help you avoid excessive repetition. Longer sentences can help you create a flow to your work.

That was a bit boring, so let’s try that again, using a little friend we like to call the conjunction – also known as linking words because they link ideas:

Some sentences are short while others can be very long but both types are useful. If you use only short sentences all the time, it can be boring to read. However, if you use only long sentences all the time, it can be confusing to read and people will soon lose interest in what you have to say.

Longer (not long) sentences can add colour and variety to your story and they can also help you avoid excessive repetition, creating a flow to your work.

The second version sounds much more natural and fluent when you read it aloud because it uses conjunctions to link ideas. This means that that we don’t have to write the same thing over and over again.

So, how do we know which conjunction to use? Decide what the purpose of the sentence is. Are you trying to link two similar ideas (e.g. “as”), two contrasting ideas (e.g. “but”) two alternate ideas (e.g. “or”) or are you trying to say that one thing is dependent on another (e.g. “because/since/so”)? Choose your conjunction according to the function.

Traditionally, people often say not to begin a sentence with a conjunction. However, in modern English it’s OK to do this, as long as you have a specific reason to do so. It’s also important to remember not to use too many conjunctions in a sentence in order to avoid writing what are often called ‘run-on’ sentences. Remember, each sentence should contain one main idea so if a sentence is difficult to understand, don’t use conjunctions to make it even longer.

Now go back and read this all again. Once you have read it all again, tell me how many conjunctions did you find?

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