Get topics and a plan for your dissertation. Find out more.

Use of Conjunctions in Academic Writing

Published by at August 17th, 2021 , Revised On November 12, 2021

Conjunctions are the glue that holds different parts of the sentence together, including clauses, words, and phrases. There are hundreds of conjunctions in English, including but not limited to since, for, if, because, for, but, on the contrary, gradually, hence, in fact, another, at last, as soon as, finally, equally, whatever, whoever, however, when, if, and in addition.

With conjunctions, you don’t need to write short and choppy sentences. Using simple words like “but”, “however”, or “and”, we can extend our sentences.

The three types of conjunctions are listed below. Each type service its unique purpose, but all help to put together a meaningful sentence.

  • Coordinating
  • Correlative
  • Subordinating

The following paragraph uses all three types of conjunctions:

Because the student procrastinated for too long, she failed her essay and dissertation assignments. The tutor provided neither a resit chance nor any feedback.

How to Use Coordinating Conjunctions in Academic Writing

Coordinating conjunctions are the most common type of conjunctions, and most people are familiar with them.

We use coordinating conjunctions to connect independent clauses, phrases and words. With the help of coordinating conjunctions, we can transform short and choppy sentences into longer yet meaningful sentences.

There are seven coordinating conjunctions in English, including for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. You can easily remember them by memorizing the acronym “FANBOYS”.

So what does each of the coordinating conjunctions used for?

For – Explains purpose or reason (does the same job as “because”)

And – Brings two things together.

Nor – Expresses another negative idea concerning an already stated negative idea.

But – Presents contrast.

Or – Shows a choice or a substitute.

Yet – Use to put forward a contrasting idea the flows logically from the preceding idea.

So – Indicates consequence, result, outcome or effect

Coordinating Conjunctions Used in Sentences – Examples

Here are seven sentences using the coordinating conjunctions:

  • I love to buy things for my home.?
  • I love watching a movie and eating popcorns.
  • I am neither happy nor sad.
  • I like to get up early in the morning, but it’s painful to wake to the sound of an alarm.
  • People often wonder whether they should put a comma before or in a sentence.
  • It was early, yet we were all ready for bed after our long hike.
  • He could not work from his office, so he worked from home.

Use of Coordinating Conjunctions to Join Words

Coordinating conjunctions can connect two verbs, adjectives, nouns or other types of word.

  • The participants of the research included project managers and site engineers.
  • I don’t like to eat crabs orlobsters.
  • He was intelligent but careless.

Use of Coordinating Conjunctions to Join Phrases

You can use coordinating conjunctions to join phrases. Following sentences use coordinating conjunctions to join phrases.

  • I worked out in the gym and devoured a big meal.
  • The results of the study are unquestionably interesting yet eventually unconvincing.
  • I love to study at home and eat at a restaurant.

Use of Coordinating Conjunctions to Join Independent Clauses

A clause is a group of words and clauses that can stand on its own as a complete sentence. It includes a verb and a subject.

The researcher contacted several project managers for their research study, but only a handful of them ultimately participated in it.

As evident in the above sentence, the coordinating conjunction “but” demonstrates a relationship between two independent clauses that can stand on their own (expressing a complete thought).

The researcher contacted several project managers for their research study. A handful of them ultimately participated in it.

Use of Punctuation with Coordinating Conjunctions

Never use a comma when connecting two words or phrases.

  • The data was collected through questionnaire, and interviews.
  • I don’t like to eat crabs, or lobsters.
  • The data was collected through questionnaire and interviews.
  • I don’t like to eat crabs or lobsters.

You should not use the comma punctuation with the coordinating conjunctions in the above sentences before the two words or phrases are connected to a single verb (collected and eat).

On the other hand, you will need to use a comma when connecting two independent clauses.

  • The data was collected through a questionnaire, and selected respondents also participated in interviews.
  • I don’t like to eat crabs, but I do eat lobsters.
  • The data was collected through a questionnaire, and selected respondents also participated in interviews.
  • I don’t like to eat crabs, but I do eat lobsters.

The clauses in the above two sentences could stand on their own as completed sentences, and therefore we joined them using comma punctuation.

How to Use Correlative Conjunctions in Academic Writing?

Correlative conjunctions join two equal parts of a single sentence. They are expressed in pairs. You must use both of them at the correct places to make one complete logical and grammatically correct sentence.

Some of the most commonly used correlative conjunctions are as follows:

  • Not only/but also
  • Not/but
  • Neither/nor
  • Either/or
  • Whether/or
  • Both/and

In most cases, you should not use comma punctuation with correlative conjunctions. Here are some example sentences using correlative conjunctions.

  • Both of them are both emotional and rational.
  • Neither Mike nor John knows that I am an FBI agent.
  • Not only Amanda but also Neil will miss me.
  • I treated them with both love and affection.

How to Use Subordinating Conjunctions in Academic Writing?

The subordinating conjunctions create a relationship between independent and dependent clauses. Essentially, these conjunctions are used to introduce a dependent clause with reference to an independent clause.

Unlike the independent clause, a dependent clause contains a subject and a verb, but it cannot stand on its own as a whole sentence. A dependent clause cannot express a complete and independent thought, so it should always be attached to an independent clause.

  • Because I didn’t pay attention to the details. I wasn’t able to achieve the desired grade in the exam.
  • Because I didn’t pay attention to the details, I wasn’t able to achieve the desired grade in the exam.
  • I wasn’t able to achieve the desired grade in the exam because I didn’t pay attention to the details.

You can notice in the above examples that the clause “I didn’t pay attention to the details” is an independent clause but the subordinating conjunction “because” turned it into a dependent clause. Now the clause “because I didn’t pay attention to the detail” is an incomplete sentence on its own. It should be connected with an independent clause to make a meaningful and grammatically correct sentence.

The following table shows the most commonly used subordinating conjunctions for joining independent and dependent clauses. Please note that this is not the complete list of subordinating conjunctions.

Subordinating conjunction Relationship it expresses
Whereas, though, although Cause and effect
If, unless, whether, in case Condition
Wherever, where Place
While, since, whenever, until, once, after, before, when Time
As, since, because Cause and effect

 

Use of Punctuation with Coordinating Conjunctions

In most cases, comma punctuation is not required with a subordinating conjunction. Don’t use a comma when there is a clear link between the dependent and the independent clause, and the dependent clause encloses the necessary information about the independent clause.

  • She will achieve the highest academic grade in her dissertation project, if she follows the guidelines provided by her university.
  • Mike panics, whenever he takes an exam.
  • She will achieve the highest academic grade in her dissertation project if she follows the guidelines provided by her university.
  • Mike panics whenever he takes an exam.

In contrast, you will need to use a comma at the beginning of the independent clause when the subordinating conjunction appears at the start of the sentence.

  • If she follows the guidelines provided by her university she will achieve the highest academic grade in her dissertation project..
  • Whenever Mike takes an exam he panics.
  • If she follows the guidelines provided by her university, she will achieve the highest academic grade in her dissertation project.
  • Whenever Mike takes an exam, he panics.?

About Alvin Nicolas

Nicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.