What is a Subordinating Conjunction?
Common subordinating conjunctions include: after; since; whenever; although; so that; where; because; unless; wherever; before; until; whether; in order that; when; and while.
Subordinating conjunctions are words or phrases that link an independent clause with a dependent clause to create complex sentences. Let’s remember what these clauses are:
An independent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and verb and expresses a complete thought in a complete sentence. For example:
Liz went to the studio to record her song.
Here, we see this sentence has a subject (Liz) and a verb (went), and is a complete sentence.
A dependent clause is a sentence fragment that does not express a complete thought but still contains a subject and a verb, as well as a dependent marker word. A dependent marker word is a word placed at the beginning of an independent clause to make it a dependent clause. Let’s look at an example:
When Liz went to the studio to record her song
Here, since we have the dependent marker word “when” in this sentence, it’s no longer a complete thought but still contains a subject and a verb, making it a dependent clause.
Now that we understand what independent and dependent clauses are, we can explain how subordinating conjunctions affect them.
Subordinating conjunctions are words or phrases that can explain cause and effect; show a relationship between time, place, or change happening in the sentence; or express additional details that support the independent clause. Some subordinating conjunctions include Because, even though, after, if, whenever, and more.
Let’s look at some sentences that include subordinating conjunctions.
Jasmine agreed to pick up her sister from the train provided that her sister gives her gas money.
Now let’s break down this sentence. The independent clause here is “Jasmine agreed to pick up her sister from the train”.
We know this is the independent clause because it contains a subject “Jasmine”, a verb “pick up” and is a complete sentence. The independent clause describes the action taking place.
Now that we know the independent clause, next we can find the subordinating conjunction that links it to the rest of the sentence.
We know that “provided that” is the subordinating conjunction because it links the independent clause (the action/effect) with the reason, which is the dependent clause, “her sister gives her gas money”.
Here is another example:
He always enjoyed reading even though he was not the best student.
Again, let’s break this down by first identifying the independent clause.
We know “He always enjoyed reading” is the independent clause because it contains a subject “he”, a verb “reading”, and is a complete sentence.
Now let’s find the subordinating conjunction. Here, the subordinating conjunction is “even though” because it links the independent clause with supporting details: “he was not the best student”.
Subordinating conjunctions can also link two independent clauses. Here is another example:
Whenever Rachel is running late, she lets her sister know in advance.
Here, the subordinating conjunction, “whenever,” is at the beginning of the sentence and tells us the time at which something happens. We know what happens during the independent clause “Rachel is running late” and that is “she lets her sister know in advance”.
It’s important to notice in instances like this, when the subordinating conjunction comes at the beginning of two independent clauses, that you’ll need to use a comma to separate the two clauses. Here a comma separates “Rachel is running late” and “she lets her sister know in advance” while still allowing the subordinating conjunction “whenever” to link the two ideas together.
Subordinating conjunctions can appear in many ways and many places in complex sentences. Knowing how to identify them and what they do can help improve the quality and complexity of your writing.
Thanks for watching, and happy studying!