Dave’s WW of EU: Subordinating Conjunctions

The last two WW of EUs we talked about Conjunctions and Coordinating Conjunctions. Time to hit Subordinating Conjunctions. This should be easy, right?

We already know that coordinating conjunctions combine independent clauses, so it only stands to reason that subordinating conjunctions would combine dependent clauses. You’re mostly right.

Subordinating conjunctions combine dependent (or subordinate clauses) with independent clauses.

Example: Although I do like the cold, I am very ready for Spring.

In this example, you can see that the bolded portion of the sentence cannot stand alone. It is a dependent clause. The second portion could stand alone (independent clause). The first portion is marked by a trigger word (Although). That word is the subordinating conjunction. If it helps to think of it this way, the first word or two of a dependent clause is the subordinating conjunction. ALWAYS!

Now, you may say that “although” isn’t really a conjunction because it isn’t combining the two halves of the sentence. You’d be right. But it could combine the two halves. Watch: I am very ready for Spring, although I do like the cold.

One of the great powers of English is that it is so customizable to our needs and situations. Heck, you could even throw it right in the middle: I am very ready, although I do like the cold, for the Spring. It doesn’t sound great, but it is correct.

There are many words that can function as a subordinating conjunction, far too many to name here. However, here are some of the most common: after, although, as, as though, because, before, if, once, since, though, unless, until, when, whether, while.

A helpful tip for finding subordinating conjunctions is that they often function as a conditional statement or they create a situation where there is a flow from one idea to another related idea. For example:

If we go to the movies, I will buy popcorn.

When the movie ends, let’s get ice cream.

Because it is Friday, I will go partying.

I like to eat chocolate although I know it isn’t really that good for me.

Watch the baby while I run to the store.


Try out this quiz. It’s a little bit different from what we reviewed, but it shows how subordinating conjunctions change meaning and is good practice. Have fun.


This entry was posted in Dave's Wonderful World of English Usage. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Dave’s WW of EU: Subordinating Conjunctions

  1. Pingback: Dave’s WW of EU: The Basics–Parts of Speech « the prodigal

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