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Understanding Subordinating Conjunctions: Meaning, Usage, and Examples

Conjunctions are words or phrases that can connect sentences, clauses, phrases, and words.

Milena Lazova
Milena Lazova

You’re always using subordinating conjunctions, even though you may not be aware of it. Without these words or phrases, you’ll sound like a kid who has just started talking. They are helpful in writing and speech to connect dependent and independent clauses and form a complete idea.

Although it sounds complicated, it’s really not. You just need to know how to recognize them to understand their purpose and use them appropriately in your writing.

What Is a Subordinating Conjunction?

To understand subordinating conjunction more easily, you first need to know what a conjunction is.

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Conjunctions are words or phrases that can connect sentences, clauses, phrases, and words. Some of the most common examples are “and,” “but,” and “or.”

When you need to connect two clauses, one of which is a dependent clause and the other an independent clause, you need to use words or phrases called subordinating conjunctions.

Now let’s remind you what dependent and independent clauses are. A dependent clause doesn’t express a complete idea and can’t stand on its own.

Example:

Until you finish your homework.

As you can see from the example above, the clause needs to be connected to another independent clause that will add meaning to the existing one.

Example:

You can’t go out until you finish your homework.

The two clauses are connected with the subordinating conjunction “until” to form a complete and meaningful sentence. The subordinating conjunction belongs to the dependent clause, which is therefore known as a subordinate clause.

Types of Subordinating Conjunctions Based on Meaning

The subordinating conjunction establishes the relationship between two clauses joined together. In other words, the meaning of the entire sentence is highly affected by the subordinating conjunction used.

These words or phrases are divided into the following categories in terms of meaning:

These include before, after, as long as, as soon as, until, still, while, whenever, wherever, when, and once. They indicate when the action of the main or independent clause was or will be performed.

She got home before the storm.

These include words and phrases like although, even though, and as though. They emphasize that the action in the main clause has happened despite a hindrance or obstacle described in the depended clause.

She worked hard even though she was hurt.

These include whereas, just as, while, in contrast to, thought, and whereas. They are used to express a comparison between two things or actions described in the two clauses they join.

Mary likes ice cream, whereas her parents hate it.

These include in order that, as, so that, because, and since. They are used at the beginning of dependent clauses to indicate the reasons for the activities described in independent clauses.

Tom didn’t write the homework because he was too tired.

These include in case, if, unless, provided that, and even if. The clause they are part of describes the rules under which the action in the independent clause performs.

If you don’t come to my party, I’ll be mad at you.

These include whereas, where, and wherever. They show the relationship of place between the independent and dependent clauses by revealing where something happens.

I’ll go wherever you’ll go.

How to Use Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions are always found at the beginning of the subordinate or dependent clause in the sentence. On the other hand, the dependent clause can either precede or follow the independent clause, depending on the subordinating conjunction used and the situation.

When it precedes the independent clause or begins the sentence, there’s a comma between the two clauses.

Example:

Whenever I’m in Paris, I always visit the Eifel Tower.

When it follows the independent clause, there’s no comma between them.

Example:

My little brother got scared because it was dark.

More Subordinating Conjunctions Examples

Here are a few more examples of sentences that include subordinating conjunctions:

After taking the exam, she went out for lunch.
While the company is quite popular on the market, many users leave bad customer reviews on the internet.
I won’t tell anyone as long as you promise it won’t happen again.
English

Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.


Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.

Cecilia Gigliotti

I have extensive experience writing in a variety of genres, from literary novels to music reviews to academic articles. I appreciate the power of words.

Valentina Dordevic

Hello! My name is Valentina. Book digesting is my specialty. I transform book ideas into easy-to-follow summaries, articles, study guides, reviews, essays, analyses, slides, or e-books.