What Are Subordinating Conjunctions?

What Are Subordinate Conjunctions?

So what is a subordinating conjunction? Subordinating conjunctions join independent clauses with a dependent or subordinate clause. A clause that is dependent (subordinate) is a clause that contains two qualities.

The first quality is that a subordinate clause does not complete a thought on its own, which means it can’t act as a sentence on its own. The second quality is that it relies on an independent clause, which is a clause that can act as a sentence on its own.

The word because is a great way to quickly help you to understand subordinate conjunctions. The word because exists to show you the cause and effect of something, which is essentially what a subordinate conjunction does.

List of Subordinating Conjunctions

Whereas coordinating conjunctions and correlative conjunctions link two equal elements, subordinate conjunctions are the link between two unequal elements. This usually occurs when you link a main or independent clause with a subordinate or dependent clause. This combination creates a complex sentence that requires the use of a subordinating conjunction.

There are many subordinate conjunctions to keep track of, but here is a list of those most commonly used.

AlthoughProvided thatWhen
AsRather thanWhenever
BeforeSo thatWhereas
Even ifThanWherever
Even thoughThatWhether
In order toUnlessWhy

Although many people consider them to be subordinate conjunctions, words such as howeveraccordinglystillotherwise and so forth are referred to as conjunctive adverbs, which are slightly different in function from subordinate conjunctions, and they’re punctuated differently as well.

How To Use and Punctuate Subordinating Conjunctions

There are two main functions of subordinating conjunctions: to transition between two ideas and to reduce importance of one clause over another. On the matter of importance, the main clause is the one that is given importance over the subordinate clause.

Transition: I often sit down to write articles after my children eat breakfast.
Reducing Importance: Although it is a beautiful day outside, I plan on working inside at my computer.

There are four main ways to construct sentences using subordinating conjunctions. See the subordinating conjunctions examples below:

1. Main clause and subordinate clause. There is no comma required with this simple structure.

– Amber rubbed her eyes as she opened a new training article.
– I prefer to write while my children are at school.

2. Subordinate clause and main clause. Because the sentence is beginning with a dependent clause, a comma should usually come at the end of the subordinate clause before starting the main clause.

 While Drew sets up the trading show booth, Jon explains the company’s services to some interested guests.
 Although Katie assured me it was OK, I felt terrible about asking for a writing extension.

3. Main clause and essential relative clause. This involves the use of a relative pronoun such as wherewhothat or which. If the relative pronoun is used to clarify a general noun, it is essential and does not require a comma before it. If the essential relative clause interrupts a main sentence, do not put commas around it.

– I like to type in the bedroom where the ceiling fan is located.
– Sharon graciously edited the articles that were due later that day.
– Interrupted: I can usually tell when my neighbor who owns an old truck leaves for work in the morning.

4. Main clause and nonessential relative clause. This again uses a relative pronoun. When the relative pronoun follows a specific noun, the clause is nonessential and should include a comma before it. If the nonessential relative clause interrupts a main sentence, put commas around it.

– Few people enjoy May 4th as much as Greg, who loves Star Wars.
– I curled up to read the first book of The Prydain Chronicleswhich is one of my favorite series.
– Interrupted: When it comes to law articles, Claudia, who is a legal whiz, knows just what to write.

Subordinating Conjunctions: Make Your Writing Interesting

Complex sentences make blogs, articles and web pages unique with interesting writing. Now that you know the essential elements of constructing complex sentences using subordinating conjunctions, which subordinating conjunction do you use the most in SEO content? Can you identify how many were used in this article outside of the examples? Sound off in the comments below! 


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