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Coordination

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Overview:

When two independent clauses are equally important and about the same topic, they are coordinate and can be joined together in the same sentence by a coordinating conjunction or conjunctive adverb. Remember that independent clauses are clauses that can stand alone as complete sentences. By conjoining them you create compound sentences, which helps you improve the complexity of your writing and avoid having too many short, simple sentences.

Coordinating Conjunctions

When two independent clauses are coordinate, they can be joined by a coordinating conjunction. Coordinating conjunctions usually appear in the middle of a sentence, after a comma. They are commonly remembered by the acronym “FANBOYS,” where each letter stands for a coordinating conjunction: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

Examples of independent clauses joined by coordinating conjunctions:

    One benefit of group study is that students learn others’ perspectives, and each member has a unique insight to offer to the group.

    Lacking in women’s issues today is one major unifying movement, but feminists are working on addressing a variety of issues that affect a diversity of women and men.

    Texting while driving is illegal in this state, yet it is still a major cause of car accidents.

    We can meet at the restaurant, or I can pick you up at your place.

FANBOYS

For 

And

Nor

But      

Or

Yet

So

Notice that some of these words have other functions when they are not acting as coordinating conjunctions, in which case they may not follow a comma. In the following sentences, “and,” “or,” and “for” are not serving as coordinating conjunctions and do not need a comma.

      Next semester I’m taking English and math.                  

      I am going to take either English 180 or English 250A.

      I am looking for an English class that fulfills a GE requirement.

Conjunctive Adverbs

Two independent clauses of equal importance and similar emphasis can also be joined by a conjunctive adverb. Conjunctive adverbs usually occur in the middle of a sentence, and are preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma. Here are some common conjunctive adverbs:

To show addition

also

further

furthermore

in addition

likewise

moreover

next

To show contrast

conversely

however

instead

nevertheless

on the other hand

otherwise

still

To show result

as a result

consequently

hence

subsequently

then

therefore

thus

To show a specific case

for example

for instance

in fact

specifically

To strengthen a point

certainly

essentially

indeed

Examples of independent clauses joined by conjunctive adverbs:

    Students feel pressure to prepare themselves before group-study sessions to avoid disappointing the group; therefore, students spend more time studying individually as well. 

    Lacking in women’s issues today is one major unifying movement; however, feminists are

    working on addressing a variety of issues that affect a diversity of women and men.

    Texting while driving is illegal in this state; nevertheless, it is still a major cause of car accidents.

    There were no vegetarian items on the menu; consequently, I filled up on complimentary bread.

Style Matters:

Now look at your own writing. Focus on one paragraph, and locate independent clauses and dependent clauses in that paragraph. Do you have several independent clauses standing alone as simple sentences? Find two simple sentences and combine them by adding a dependent word to one of them, and a comma if necessary. Make sure, however, that the sentences in your paragraph are not all the same type. Try putting the dependent clause at the beginning of some sentences and the end of others. Remember that variety makes writing more interesting.


Copyright (C) 2010. All rights reserved.
This handout is part of a library of instructional materials used in California State University, Long Beach’s writing center, the Writer’s Resource Lab. Educators and students are welcome to distribute copies as long as they do so with attribution to all organizations and authors. Commercial distribution is prohibited.