Most native English speakers do not know what coordinating conjunctions are. As a native English speaker one does not really pay much attention to the structure of sentences. So when it comes to connecting sentences we use the words that we know in our vocabulary unconsciously. The beauty of being an advanced level English teacher in Medellin is that I get to dissect the language.
In the English language, like in Spanish, we have words that connect other words, phrases and clauses (parts of a sentence); these words are called conjunctions. In this post I will go over the most common type of conjunction, the coordinating conjunction.
What are Coordinating Conjunctions?
As a kid in California I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons and seeing a really cool cartoon short about conjunctions, Schoolhouse Rock, Conjunction Junction:
Did you notice the conjunctions in the cartoon? The conjunctions they showed were all coordinating conjunctions.
Coordinating conjunctions are the easiest to learn. Coordinating conjunctions join parts of a sentence, specifically words, phrases or clauses, that are grammatically the same or similar.
There are 7 coordinating conjunctions
- I have an arepa and chocolate for breakfast.
- You can take the metro or the bus to get to my house.
- Samuel, one of my crazy students, likes a redheaded girl, but he already has a girlfriend.
- I want to eat healthy, yet I can’t stop eating chicharron!
- I do not like to abuse animals, nor do I like people who do so.
- We must conserve water, for it is a scarce natural resource.
- It was my friends birthday last night, so we got drunk.
An easy way to remember all of the coordinating conjunctions is with the acronym FANBOYS. This is how I learned them when I was in grade school.
Notice that the coordinating conjunctions are all in the middle of the sentences connecting information. That’s why coordinating conjunctions are also known as connectors.
Punctuation with coordinating conjunctions
If the coordinating conjunction is connecting two independent clauses then it is correct to place a comma before the conjunction.
For example: Esteban would like to ride his bike every day, but he doesn’t have the time to do so.
If the independent clauses are short then you do not need a comma.
For example: Wendy is nice so she helps people.
If the coordinating conjunction connects an independent clause to a dependent clause then you do not need a comma.
For example: I play basketball during the week and soccer on the weekends.
Starting a sentence with a coordinating conjunction
It is not wrong to start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction. Some teachers will teach against using a coordinating conjunction at the beginning of a sentence. This is usually for 3 reasons.
- Ignorance – they just don’t know that it is not wrong to start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction.
- Fragments – to help students avoid fragment sentences (a sentence that cannot stand alone.)
- Preference – some teachers just prefer not to start sentences with coordinating conjunctions. So it is a good idea to ask your teacher for their preference before writing.
Here are some examples of the correct usage of a coordinating conjunction at the beginning of a sentence.
- It was pouring, the metro was really crowded, there was an accident on Avenida Oriental, and I stepped in a puddle. So I decided to turn around and walk home instead of coming to class.
- I’m a foodie, I love to discover new restaurants around town. There are many great restaurants in Medellin. But in my opinion my mom’s cooking is better than any restaurant I’ve been to.
Using coordinating conjunctions is simple and easy. Many students get frustrated because they try to translate directly from Spanish to English when writing. This is a really complicated way to write. The best thing to do is to think of what you want to write in English, not Spanish.
You are going to make mistakes, and that’s okay, that’s how you learn. Your teacher will correct you and you’ll get over the hurdle.
- Do not translate directly from Spanish to English!
- Do not complicate your sentences. As you advance in English you will be able to write more complicated sentences. For now just stick to easy sentences, so that you ingrain the correct structures.
- Proof read – read what you write multiple times in order to correct yourself.
- Peer edit – have friends or classmates read your writing and have them correct you or give you suggestions.
- Write – Many students do not like to write, yet it is such a fundamental skill and it will always be tested in English proficiency exams. Go out and find something that you are passionate about and write about it.
About Andrew Macia
Hello, my name is Andrew Macia and I am the founder of the Medellin Buzz. I am an advanced level English teacher here in Medellin, and I also have a website development, and marketing company which I run from home.
My idea with the Medellin Buzz is to push those who are learning English and to integrate native speakers with non-native speakers.
I love living in Medellin and I love Colombia. I want to give back to the community and this is the best way I know how. Let’s practice English and Spanish and have a great time! Take a look at our upcoming events: Conversation Club Calendar.
About the Medellin Buzz
The Medellin Buzz is lighthearted resource for English as a Second Language learners in Medellin, Colombia to practice with. The Medellin Buzz is written in a way that is easy to understand. If you do not understand something feel free to make comments below.