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Coordinating Conjunctions and Parallel Structure

Coordinating conjunctions are words that connect structures that are the same. This is called parallel structure. These are the coordinating conjunctions in English: and, but, for, nor, or, so, and yet.  

 

•Coordinating conjunctions are used to connect:
•Men and women are the same. (Connecting Nouns)
•There is still plenty of food in the living room and in the kitchen. (Connecting Prepositional Phrases)
•I am sitting here and writing a letter. (Connecting Gerunds)
•When you go and what you do are not my concern. (Connecting Clauses)
•Jim loves Sue, and she loves him. (Connecting Sentences)
 
 
Coordinating conjunctions cannot connect different structures. (#PARALLEL STRUCTURE)
•The journalist is successful (adjective) and well-liked(adjective).
•Incorrect: The journalist is a success(Noun) and well-liked(adjective). 
 
•Note: Check the punctuation in the following sentences:

Independent Sentence+ comma+ coordinating conjunctions+ Independent Sentence

•The phone rang, and someone knocked on the door.
•You don't have to study, nor do you have to stay home.
•You can stay home and study for the exam, or you can go out and enjoy yourself.
•Dr. Jones was very sick, but he taught the class.
•His voice was very weak, yet the students understood him.
•Dr. Jones couldn't lecture for the entire hour, for he had a sore throat.
•I've been working hard all year, so I'm going to take a vacation during the summer. 
 
•1. When a coordinating conjunction connects two or more sentences, the statements on both sides of the conjunction must have a subject and a verb.
•I was going to call you last night, but my roommate was on the phone far three hours. I was too tired to wait, so I went to bed.
•2. The coordinating conjunction nor connects two negative ideas. As in questions, the subject and auxiliary verb must be inverted after nor.
•I don't speak Korean, nor do I write it. (I don't speak Korean. I don't write it.)
•I haven't done my writing assignment, nor have I done the reading one. 
 
 
•3. The coordinating conjunction for is more common in formal writing. In informal speech because is more common.
•Formal: Dr. Jones couldn't lecture the entire hour, for he had a sore throat.
•Less formal: Dr. Jones couldn't lecture the entire hour because he had a sore throat.
•4. Coordinating conjunctions have different meanings, so they show different relationships between the ideas in two clauses. The relationship must always be logical.
•Incorrect: The grammar test on tenses was very long, but it took a long time to finish.
•Correct: The grammar test on tenses was very long, so it took a long time to finish. 
 
•5. Remember that when a coordinating conjunction connects two complete sentences (independent clauses), a comma precedes the coordinating conjunction. If the clauses are short, the comma is not essential, but it is always safe to add the comma.
 
•I love you, but I can't marry you.
•I love you but can't marry you.
 
•When more than two sentences are combined, it may be necessary to make changes in the sentences so that they will sound smoother. For example, these sentences need to be connected:
•My parents wanted me to have the experience of studying in a foreign country . My parents wanted me to have the experience of learning another language . My parents do not want me to remain in a foreign country too long . My parents do not want me to change my cultural beliefs.
•The above four sentences could be combined into one sentence.
•My parents wanted me to have the experience of studying in a foreign country and learning another language, but they do not want me to remain here long, nor do they want me to change my cultural beliefs.
 
•When writing your own sentences, it is important not to produce a string of sentences.
•Good style: You can study in the university library or in the dormitory quiet room, but you must find a quiet place to work soon.
•Poor style: You can study in the university library, or you can study in the dormitory quiet room, but you must find a quiet place to study, and you must find it soon .