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Subordinating Conjunction

Subordinating conjunctions are the most challenging to recognize among the three types of conjunctions (i.e. coordinating, correlative, and subordinating). However, it doesn't mean that these are difficult to master. In fact, you probably utilize them without even knowing that they are subordinating conjunction. Let's look more closely at them to figure out more about them.

Subordinating Conjunction

What is a subordinating conjunction?

A subordinating conjunction is a term or phrase that connects two clauses, one dependent and one independent. This word or phrase implies that a clause has informational value to add to the primary concept of the sentence, indicating a cause-and-effect correlation or a time and place transition in between two sentences.

An independent clause can serve as an autonomous sentence, with no dependency. To put it in another words, this clause does not require any extra details in order to function as an independent sentence.

An instance of an independent clause is the statement, "The kid failed the exam."

A dependent clause supplements the main clause with additional details. These clauses are not self-contained, and their meaning is based on the independent clause. They are not full sentences.

For example, "Because she did not prepare."

A complete notion has been communicated, and sufficient information has been provided to completely explain the thought. What was the connection between the two clauses?

The phrase "because." That gives us our first subordinating conjunction. However, if we merge the two clauses, we get "The kid failed the exam because she didn't study."

These crucial words and phrases, also known as subordinators or subordinate conjunctions, might introduce adverb clauses.

Subordinating Conjunction

Importance of Subordinating Conjunction

Subordinating conjunctions are necessary components of complex sentences that contain a minimum of two clauses, one of which is primary (independent) and the other subordinate (dependent).

When it comes to employing subordinate conjunctions, there is only one guideline to remember:

  1. Within a sentence, subordinate conjunction has two purposes. First, it emphasizes the significance of the independent clause.
  2. Second, it serves as a bridge between two notions in the same sentence. The transit always denotes a location, time, or a cause and effect relationship.

As an example: We glanced in the steel jar, where Gia often hides her sweets.

Subordinating conjunctions that demonstrate cause and effect

"Because" is the most basic subordinating conjunction.

"Because" is single-purpose conjunction used to demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between a subordinate and major clause. A phrase beginning with because is insufficient on its own.

Because he refused to wear a safety belt.

We have the impression that something else is missing here. Let us add an independent clause to give this sentence some heft.

Jason was no longer permitted to ride in the Roadster.

Now we'll put the two together in a complex sentence.

Jason was no longer permitted to ride in the Roadster because he refused to wear a seat belt.

A clause of purpose is one that establishes a causal relationship, such as "because he/she did not wear a seat belt" (addressing the question "Why?" or "For what reason or cause?").

For, as, since, though, due to, provided that, because of, unless, and so/so that are some other subordinating conjunctions which can demonstrate cause-and-effect relationships and act in a similar manner.

  1. George needed strict adherence to safety belt rules; hence Jason was not permitted to drive in the Roadster.
  2. Since Jason did not wear his seat belt, George has prohibited him from being the Roadster.

Subordinating Conjunctions Indicate Correlations of Time or Place

Another utilization of subordinating conjunctions is to demonstrate a link between two phrases involving a time or place change. Once, while, when, wherever, before, and after are some instances of subordinating conjunctions.

  1. Once George learned that Jason was not wearing his safety belt, he quickly took his keys to the Roadster.
  2. Robert looked unhappily at the Roadster whenever he carried it in the Bat-cave.
  3. After Bruce was done working for the evening, Tom took a secret driving experience in the Roadster.
  4. Before Robin can reclaim his employment in the Bcave, he must swear to quit tinkering with the Roadster.
Subordinating Conjunction

How to Create a Subordinate Clause

It is as simple as inserting subordinating conjunction to the start of a dependent sentence to build a subordinate clause. Then, pick whether you want the main clause or the subordinate clause to occur first.

The independent phrase "they'll have a lunch on Friday" can be changed by the dependent clause "it pours" using the conjunction unless: "They'll have a lunch on Friday unless it snows."

Said group is betting on Friday's weather for lunch, and because the main clause precedes the sentence, the conjunction comes after it (prior to the dependent clause). A main supportive clause must accompany if the sentence begins with conjunction and then a dependent clause.

Both phrases have the same meaning, but in this case, the attention is shifted significantly more to the clause that occurs first.

Subordinating Conjunctions and Comma Placement

Subordinating conjunctions in the midst of a sentence is not usually accompanied by a comma. This is the inverse of the concept applied in case of coordinating conjunctions, which are terms that connect two separate clauses (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and sometimes so).

Whenever a subordinate clause begins a statement, the entire clause (not just the subordinating conjunction) is separated by a comma.

Incorrect: Whenever, Raj was away, Robert drove the car.

Correct: Whenever Raj was away, Robert drove the car.

Incorrect: Robert drove the car, whenever Raj was away.

Correct: Robert drove the car whenever Raj was away .

List of Subordinating Conjunctions

There are numerous subordinating conjunctions in Grammar. In a list of subordinating conjunctions, let us check the most prevalent ones, with the help of some of the instances:

After - It indicates a subsequent time period.

  • Do give me a call after you reach home.
  • Kids were not able to study after the light went.

Before- It demonstrates an earlier time period.

  • Before he called me, I was about to give him a ring.
  • I need to complete the assignment before the Professor comes.

Because - It implies the reason for that

  • She became rich because she was intelligent and hardworking.
  • I love puppies because they are super adorable.

If - It implies in the event that

  • If it is pleasant tomorrow, we can go shopping.

Once- It implies at the moment when

  • Once you visit us, I will make you meet him.

So- It means in order to

  • She finished all her chores quickly so that she could reach work on time.

Until- Implies upto that time

  • Don't open the door until I reach.

Although - It refers to in spite of something

  • Although Seema is from a rich background, she is not at all bossy or arrogant.

Where- It implies the place or position.

  • I have kept the plates back, where they belonged.

These are some of the subordinating conjunctions. There are several other including- That, unless, until, before, after, if, when, whenever, wherever, as, as if, though, that, so that, now that, as soon as, as long as, and so on.

When the dependent clause occurs prior to an independent sentence, there is a comma between the two, signaling the start of the independent clause. However, when the independent clause occurs first, there is frequently no need to split the two parts with a comma.

Recognizing and Applying Subordinating Conjunctions

Tip #1: Change up the order of your subordinating conjunctions

Using subordinating conjunctions to build complicated sentences is an excellent technique to improve your writing!

Utilize the flexibility of dependent clauses by rearranging your phrases so that you have some sentences beginning with the independent clause and others beginning with the dependent clause.

Tip #2: Conjunctive Adverbs vs. Subordinating Conjunctions

Conjunctive adverbs and subordinating conjunctions are frequently confused. Conjunctive adverbs join two independent clauses, whereas subordinating conjunctions link the dependent clauses with the independent clauses.

Look for full concepts when reviewing the connecting clauses. Subordinating conjunction will be used as the connecting word because a dependent clause cannot exist independently.

I have a lot of pending work because I was not finishing my work on time.

"Because I wasn't finishing my work on time," in this sentence, is a dependent clause that uses the subordinating conjunction "because" to add specifics to the independent clause. "I have a lot of pending work."

I wasn't finishing my work on time; consequently, I had a lot of pending work today.

While communicating the same broad meaning, this example employs the conjunctive adverb "consequently" to connect the independent clauses "I wasn't finishing the work on time" and "I had a lot of pending work today." Both clauses have equal value and importance.

Tip #3: Make very sure there is a dependent clause when searching for subordinating conjunctions

Some words that are employed as subordinating conjunctions are also utilized in other parts of speech. Finding the subject and verb in the statement you're connecting to the independent clause is useful for checking for dependent clauses. Since they rely on an independent sentence to fulfill the idea, dependent clauses sound incomplete.

I ultimately could take a rest after I went shopping all day.

"After" is subordinating conjunction in this statement. Since it has a subject and a verb, "after I went shopping all day" is a clause, but it is not a full sentence. It appears to be incomplete and requires more information.

I ultimately could take a rest.

In this statement the term, "after" is a preposition as the statement lacks a subject or the verb in it, so it is not a clause but a prepositional phrase.


Like any other grammatical technique, subordinating conjunctions can become repetitive and uninteresting if used too frequently. Of course, some sorts of writing necessitate a bare-bones style with no flavor. However, subordinating conjunctions should be used with caution. Using the same device again and over again sounds not only rote but also like the work of an incompetent writer. So, expert writers understand that these conjunctions must only be utilized when absolutely necessary.

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