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Joining clauses - Easy Learning Grammar


The process called coordination joins two short clauses of equal importance with a conjunction. Each clause becomes a main clause in the new sentence.
  • Ann went to the bank and withdrew £100.
  • Sally goes to work but Ann doesn’t have a job.
  • Ann (either) stays at home or visits her family.
The clauses are linked by words called coordinating conjunctions, such as and, but, (either) or, neither, nor, or yet. Conjunctions come at the beginning of a clause.
  • If the subject of both clauses is the same, it does not have to be repeated in front of the second verb.
  • She came over and she gave me a hug.
The conjunction and is used:
  • to join clauses where there is no contrast or choice.

  • to join more than two clauses; the earlier clauses can be joined by a comma, but the last two must be joined by and.
  • Ann got into the car, drove to the bank, withdrew £100, and went shopping.
The conjunction but is used to join clauses where there is a contrast.
  • She wanted to buy a new dress but she couldn’t find one she liked.
The conjunction yet is used, mainly in written English, to join clauses where there is a contrast that is of a surprising nature.
  • He’s a quietly spoken man, yet he still manages to command attention.
  • She was suffering from a knee injury yet she still won the match.
  • The conjunctions and, but, or, neither, and nor are also used to join two phrases of the same kind,
  • This book is useful for planning and carrying out research.
  • The former President and his wife were there.
or two words of the same class.
  • I use this chair when I am reading and working.
  • Do you undertake detailed or intricate work?
  • Jack and Jill fell down the hill.
  • This is a complicated but intriguing film.
In particular, and and but are used to coordinate pairs of adjectives in a predicative position.When there is a positive choice between the subjects of two clauses, you use the pair of words either and or to join the clauses.
  • Either you come to my place or I’ll meet you at work. Which do you prefer?
If the subject of the joined clauses is the same, the subject is used in the first of the joined clauses only. This is often also true of any auxiliary verbs that may be present.
  • Martin said he would either meet them for lunch or take them to tea.
When it is used in this way either must come in one of these places:
  • before the subject in the first clause of the group.
  • in front of the main verb and after any auxiliary verb.
You can use either…or to join more than two clauses. Or is mandatory at the beginning of the final clause, and optional at the beginning of the previous clause.
  • Colin said he would (either) meet them for lunch, (or) take them to tea, or have them over for a coffee.
  • Ian can (either) come with us or take a taxi later.
The use of either…or emphasizes that the two clauses are alternatives and cannot both be true. Compare and/or.
  • Colin said he would meet them for lunch, and/or have them over for a coffee.
The word either can be left out if the sentence meaning is clear. Some writers treat all but the final or as optional.
You can use or on its own to join two or more clauses,
but either cannot be used on its own.
When there is a negative choice between the subjects of two clauses, you can use the pair of words neither and nor to join the clauses.
  • It is neither possible nor desirable that they should be invited.
  • Jane was not a fool; neither/nor was she prepared to be blamed for the error.
The word neither can be used on its own to connect two clauses if the first clause contains a word with broad negative meaning such as not, barely or scarcely. If there is a subject in the second clause, question order must be used.
  • There was barely enough meat for the children; neither did they have any bread.
  • Eric hardly saw the fight; nor did he remember much about the incident later.
  • The words either and neither can also be used as a pronoun or as a determiner. Each can then be used on its own; it does not then have a joining function.
  • Either book will do. It doesn’t matter.
  • Neither book is at all suitable, I’m sorry.
  • You can have either.
  • Either, or, neither, and nor can be used as conjunctions inside a noun phrase or a verb phrase.
  • You can choose to study either Shakespeare or Keats.
  • Neither Vimala nor Katie knew the answer.
  • She is either desperate or just silly.
  • He didn’t know whether to stay or go.

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