In English grammar, subordinate conjunctions are words that connect two clauses by making one clause dependent on the other.
They are essential in forming complex sentences and adding layers of meaning and depth to writing.
Without subordinating conjunctions, we would be stuck with simple sentences that lack complexity and nuance.
In this article, we will examine the definition of subordinating conjunctions, their importance in sentence structure, and tips for using them effectively.

Definition of Subordinating Conjunction

A subordinating conjunction is a word or group of words that links a subordinate clause (dependent) to a main clause (independent).
The subordinate clause does not express a complete thought on its own but depends on the main clause to form a complete sentence.
Common examples of subordinating conjunctions include although, because, if, since, until, when, where and while.
By connecting clauses in this way with subordinating conjunctions we can create more complex sentences which allow us to convey more detailed information about relationships between ideas.

The Importance of Subordinating Conjunctions in Sentence Structure

Subordinating conjunctions are crucial components for constructing well-written sentences.
Without them we would lose key elements like relative clauses or conditional phrases which provide context for our writing.
These elements allow writers to manipulate their prose in ways that enable them to communicate ideas more precisely.
In addition to providing greater detail about different parts of our sentences/subordinate elements these subordinate elements can help create flow within our writing by guiding readers through specific parts of the text with greater ease.
Overall these functions make subordinating conjunctions incredibly important tools when constructing multifaceted written work such as essays or creative writing pieces where variety is key for articulating meaning effectively.

Types of Subordinating Conjunctions

Common Examples

Subordinating conjunctions are an integral part of sentence structure, and there are many common examples that every writer should know.
One of the most common subordinating conjunctions is “although,” which is used to express a contrast or concession between two ideas.
For instance,
“Although it was raining, I decided to go for a walk” exemplifies how the dependent clause (although it was raining) sets up the independent clause (I decided to go for a walk).
Another common subordinating conjunction is “because,” which introduces a subordinate clause that explains why something occurred.
For example: “Because it was raining, I decided to stay indoors.”
Note that the dependent clause (because it was raining) precedes the independent clause (I decided to stay indoors). “Since” is another commonly used subordinating conjunction.
It indicates that one event happened after another in time sequence and demonstrates cause and effect.
An example might be: “Since I finished my work early, I decided to take a break.”
The dependent clause (since I finished my work early) sets up the independent clause (I decided to take a break).

Less Common Examples

In addition to those mentioned above, there are less commonly used subordinating conjunctions that still have an important role in English grammar.
One such example is “lest,” which means “for fear that” or “in order not to.”
An example sentence using this word might read: “She always wore comfortable shoes lest she develop blisters.”
The dependent clause following “lest” expresses what could happen if she doesn’t wear comfortable shoes.
“Provided that” is another less common subordinating conjunction used when setting conditions.
It can be replaced with other words like “if” or “as long as.” For example: “I’ll buy the car provided that it’s less than $5,000.”
“unless” is a subordinating conjunction that expresses a negative condition.
An example sentence could be: “I won’t go to the cinema unless they’re showing my favorite film.”
The dependent clause (unless they’re showing my favorite film) establishes the condition that must be met before the speaker will go to the cinema.

Function of Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions have an essential role in sentence structure, facilitating the connection between dependent and independent clauses.
A dependent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a verb but cannot stand on its own as a sentence.
An independent clause, on the other hand, is a complete sentence that can stand alone.
Subordinating conjunctions connect these two types of clauses by creating a subordinate relationship between them.

Connecting Dependent Clauses to Independent Clauses

One of the primary roles of subordinating conjunctions is to connect dependent clauses to independent clauses to form complex sentences.
Without subordinating conjunctions, we would be limited to using only simple sentences or coordinating conjunctions like “and” and “but” to link independent clauses.
For example:
– Simple sentence: John walked to the store.
– Coordinating conjunction: John walked to the store, but he forgot his wallet.
– Complex sentence with subordinating conjunction:
Although John walked to the store, he forgot his wallet.
In this example, “although” is the subordinating conjunction that connects the dependent clause (“Although John walked to the store”) with the independent clause (“he forgot his wallet”), creating a complex sentence.

Indicating Relationship Between Clauses

Subordinating conjunctions also indicate the relationship between two clauses in terms of cause and effect or time sequence.
Some subordinators show cause-and-effect relationships such as “because,” “since,” “so that,” and “as.”
Others indicate time relationships like “after,” “before,” “when,” and “while.”
Understanding these relationships can help writers convey their intended meaning more clearly in their writing.
For example:
– Cause and effect: Since I was running late for work, I skipped breakfast.
– Time sequence: After the meeting ended, everyone went home.
In these examples, “since” and “after” are subordinating conjunctions that indicate the relationship between clauses.
In the first example, “since” implies a cause-and-effect relationship by showing why the speaker skipped breakfast.
In the second example, “after” indicates a time sequence by showing what happened next.
Subordinating conjunctions play an essential role in connecting dependent and independent clauses and indicating relationships between them.
By understanding their function and usage, writers can create more complex sentences that convey their intended meaning more clearly.

Examples of Subordinating Conjunctions in Action

Subordinating conjunctions are essential in sentence structure. They help link independent and dependent clauses, creating a complex sentence that expresses ideas more precisely.
Below are some examples of subordinating conjunctions in action:
Example 1:
Although it was raining, I decided to go for a walk. In this sentence, the subordinating conjunction “although” connects the dependent clause “it was raining” to the independent clause “I decided to go for a walk.”
The subordinating conjunction introduces an opposing idea that contrasts with the main clause’s thought.
It also shows that the rain does not deter the speaker from going for a walk.
Example 2:
Because she studied hard, she aced her exams.
The subordinating conjunction “because” is used here to connect the dependent clause “she studied hard” and the independent clause “she aced her exams.”
The conjunction helps indicate that one event caused another. In this case, studying hard resulted in excellent exam results.
Example 3:
Unless you finish your homework, you cannot watch TV. The subordinating conjunction “unless” introduces a condition; it connects the dependent clause “you finish your homework” and independent clause “you cannot watch TV.”
The construction of this sentence implies that finishing homework is mandatory before watching television.

Analyzing Sentences with Subordinating Conjunctions

Analyzing sentences with subordinating conjunctions helps understand how they function and their meaning. Let’s consider these three sentences:
Sentence 1: After he ate lunch
Sentence 2: Because I love pizza
Sentence 3: Unless we hurry Each of these sentences lacks an independent clause.
Therefore they are incomplete sentences or sentence fragments. In the case of sentence 1 and 3, subordinating conjunctions begin the clause.
In contrast, in sentence 2, the subordinating conjunction comes after an independent clause. The missing independent clauses are necessary to complete these sentences.
It’s essential to note that a dependent clause cannot stand by itself as a complete sentence. It must rely on an independent clause to convey meaning effectively.

Identifying Common Errors with Subordinating Conjunction Usage

Subordinating conjunctions play a vital role in connecting ideas and structuring sentences correctly. However, common errors can occur while using them. Error 1: Misplacing subordinating conjunctions
Misplacing subordinating conjunctions can cause confusion and ambiguity in sentences. For example:
– “I will go shopping when my sister arrives tomorrow.”
– “When my sister arrives tomorrow I will go shopping.” The first example links two phrases correctly while the second one places the dependent clause before the independent clause, which does not make sense.
Error 2: Using too many coordinating conjunctions Overuse of coordinating conjunctions can also lead to improper sentence structure.
It’s important to use them sparingly and instead try using subordinating conjunctions for better clarity. Error 3: Repeating Subordinating Conjunctions
Repeating the same type of subordinating conjugation may also affect readability and cause monotony in composition; hence it is essential to explore different types or use coordinating conjunctives instead. Identifying common errors with subordinating conjugations usage requires keen attention to detail while analyzing sentences with proper placement of these little words; it helps in constructing more precise ideas that are easy to understand without ambiguity or confusion.

Tips for Using Subordinating Conjunctions Effectively

Avoiding Sentence Fragments

One of the most common mistakes when using subordinating conjunctions is creating sentence fragments. A sentence fragment occurs when a dependent clause is used on its own as a sentence, without being connected to an independent clause. To avoid sentence fragments, it’s important to make sure that each subordinating conjunction is followed by a complete thought that can stand alone as a complete sentence.
For example, consider the following sentence: “Although I studied hard for the exam.” This is a fragment because it lacks an independent clause to provide context and meaning. To fix this, we could add an independent clause: “Although I studied hard for the exam, I still didn’t do well.” Now the sentence has both a dependent and independent clause that combine to form a complete thought.

Varying Placement and Use of Subordinating Conjunctions for Clarity and Emphasis

To create dynamic and engaging writing, it’s important to vary the placement and use of subordinating conjunctions. This helps to break up long sentences with multiple clauses and avoid repetitive phrasing that can become monotonous.
One way to vary placement is by positioning subordinating clauses at different points in a sentence. For instance, starting with a dependent clause followed by an independent clause can create emphasis on the action or condition being described in the dependent clause.
Conversely, placing an independent clause first followed by one or more dependent clauses can emphasize the relationship between these clauses. It’s also important to vary the use of different subordinating conjunctions based on their purpose.
For example, using “because” too often can make your writing repetitive and predictable. Instead, try using less common conjunctions like “lest” or “provided that” to add variety and interest.


Effective use of subordinating conjunctions can greatly enhance sentence structure and clarity in writing. Avoiding sentence fragments and varying the placement and use of subordinating conjunctions are important strategies for creating engaging, well-crafted sentences. With practice, writers can improve their ability to use subordinating conjunctions effectively and create sentences that are both grammatically correct and stylistically engaging.


Subordinating conjunctions may seem like small words, but they play a significant role in sentence structure. Without them, sentences would be choppy and lack clarity.
Subordinating conjunctions connect ideas and show the relationship between clauses. Learning to use them effectively can improve your writing and help you communicate more clearly.

Recap of importance and function of subordinating conjunctions

In this article, we covered the definition of subordinating conjunctions, their types (common and less common), their function in connecting dependent clauses to independent clauses, and examples of how they are used in sentences. We also looked at tips for using subordinating conjunctions effectively, such as avoiding sentence fragments and varying their placement for clarity. Overall, subordinating conjunctions are an essential part of sentence structure.
They play a critical role in helping readers understand the relationship between ideas presented in a text. While it may take some time to master using them correctly, practicing with subordinating conjunctions will pay off when it comes to improving your writing skills.

Encouragement to practice using them in writing to improve sentence structure

If you’re looking to improve your writing skills or want to enhance your ability to communicate ideas more precisely and effectively, practicing with subordinating conjunctions is an excellent place to start. Start by identifying them in texts that you read frequently or consider revising some past works where their use might have been lacking.
The more you practice with subordinating conjunctions, the easier it will become for you to identify their place within a text’s structure quickly. Over time this will lead towards better overall compositions through the improvement of natural cadence while maintaining logical flow throughout your work.
Remember that effective communication is essential not just for writing but also for life in general. Whether you’re communicating through written or spoken words, mastering the use of subordinating conjunctions will ensure that your message is delivered clearly and concisely.