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11+ & KS2 English: What are conjunctions?

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

What are conjunctions?

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Conjunctions join different parts of a sentence together.

They join other words, phrases or clauses together to form a sentence.

We use conjunctions a lot when we write and speak, to link ideas together. Think of them like the butter in a sentence sandwich!

Without conjunctions, our sentences would all be short and simple; they allow us to create interesting phrases and sentences.

Conjunctions can be either words or short phrases.

They can be co-ordinating conjunctions or subordinating conjunctions.

Let’s take a look at conjunctions in more detail!

Why are conjunctions useful?

Without conjunctions, we would only be able to form boring and brief sentences, such as:

Kerry likes action movies. Kerry eats chocolate.

chocolate bar

Using conjunctions

With conjunctions, we can form longer and more complex sentences such as:

Kerry likes action movies because they are full of excitement and intrigue.

Kerry eats chocolate, but makes sure she does not eat too much in one go!

What are the most common conjunctions?


The most common conjunctions are:


How many types of conjunctions are there?

There are two types of conjunctions: co-ordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions.

Read on to find out the different between these.

What are co-ordinating conjunctions?

These are words like ‘and’, ‘but’ and ‘or’.

Co-ordinating conjuctions join two main clauses together to make one sentence.

It is important to note that it is only main clauses that co-ordinating conjunctions can join.

They never join a main clause to a subordinate clause.

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I like your red jumper but it doesn’t look very warm.

What are subordinating conjunctions?

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Subordinating conjunctions are used to join a subordinating clause to another clause or sentence.

A subordinating clause is a clause that gives us more information about a main clause. These clauses cannot be used on their own; they need to be joined with a main clause to make sense.

Examples of subordinating conjunctions are:

  • As
  • Before
  • Because
  • If
  • How
  • That
  • Though
  • Although
  • Whether
  • While
  • Despite

Example sentence 1

The laptop no longer works because I spilled water all over it!

Explanation: ‘I spilled water all over it’ is a subordinating clause.

‘Because’ is a subordinating conjunction that links this to the main clause of ‘the laptop no longer works’.

Example sentence 2

We could sit down to have a picnic when Jane had finished mowing the lawn.

Explanation: ‘Jane had finished mowing the lawn’ is a subordinating clause.

‘When’ is a subordinating conjunction that links this to the main clause of ‘we could sit down to have a picnic.

Example sentence 3

Despite the fact that it is raining, we will go for a walk anyway.

Conjunctions in the 11+ exams

Examberry Papers 11 plus english practice papers pack 2 download cover image

Try our expert English 11+ practice papers for questions on conjunctions and the rest of the 11+ English syllabus!

You may also be interested in our Spelling and Vocabulary Workbooks for 11 Plus.

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