Posts Tagged ‘subordinating conjunctions’

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions – e.g. “while”, “though”, “however”, “despite”, “because”, “since” – imply that one condition in a sentence depends on (i.e. is subordinate to) another. Commonly, they are used to indicate exceptions to a rule or highlight an alternative, as in:

  • While he was happy in his new home, he missed his friends and family.

The same sentence could just as easily be written as:

  • Though he was happy in his new home …
  • Although he was happy in his new home …

Here’s another example:

  • While there are numerous ways to learn a language, the best is through a combination of study and application.
  • Though there are numerous ways to learn a language …
  • Although there are numerous ways to learn a language …

These sentences can also be written using “however”.

  • He was happy in his new home. However, he missed his friends and family.
  • There are numerous ways to learn a language. However, the best is through a combination of study and application.

Consider the last example. “However” does not always have to appear at the beginning of a sentence but may appear between the subject and verb in a clause, as in:

  • There are numerous ways to learn a language. The best, however, is through a combination of study and application.

Or “however” may appear between two clauses in a sentence, as in:

  • He thought he knew a lot about the rainforest. While talking with a scientist, however, he realized that he had much to learn.

Despite, nevertheless

Like “however”, “while”, “although”, and “though”, “despite” and “nevertheless” can be used to indicate that, although one condition exists, another condition is still possible.

  • Despite calling several times, he never received a reply.
  • Despite preferring to go to the park, he agreed to go to the movies.

Note that the last sentence can also be written as:

  • He preferred to go to the park. Nevertheless, he agreed to go to the movies.
  • He preferred to go to the park. However, he agreed to go to the movies.
  • While he preferred to go to the park, he agreed to go to the movies.
  • Though he preferred to go to the park, he agreed to go to the movies.
  • Although he preferred to go to the park, he agreed to go to the movies.

In this case, while the subject’s preference exists, it is still possible that he will act in a way that doesn’t agree with this preference.

Thus, therefore, because, since, as, hence

“Thus”, “therefore”, “because”, “since”, “as”, and “hence” are used to imply that one condition follows from (i.e. is caused by) another.

  • Because he had the flu, he did not go to work.
  • Since he had the flu, he did not go to work.
  • As he had the flu, he did not go to work.
  • He had the flu. Therefore, he did not go to work.
  • He had the flu. Thus, he did not go to work.
  • He had the flu. Hence, he did not go to work.

Please be aware, however, that “therefore”, “thus”, and “hence” tend to be used in more formal (e.g. academic) contexts and would be less appropriate in the former example than “because”, “since”, and “as”.