Conjunctive Adverbs

Conjunctive Adverbs

A conjunctive adverb links the ideas in two sentences (or two independent clauses). The following words are conjunctive adverbs:
  • also, consequently, furthermore, however, incidentally, likewise, meanwhile, nevertheless, nonetheless, therefore.
Conjunctive adverbs can also be phrases.
  • as a result, as a consequence, for example, on the contrary

Real-Life Examples of Conjunctive Adverbs

  • God could not be everywhere. Therefore, he made mothers. (Author Rudyard Kipling)
A conjunctive adverb typically starts a new sentence, but, if you wanted a smooth transition between your ideas, it is possible to use a semicolon before a conjunctive adverb
  • Orthodox medicine has not found an answer to your complaint; however, luckily for you, I happen to be a quack. (Cartoonist Mischa Richter)
  • When I took part in European summits, it was unpleasant for me to hear Romanian, Polish, Portuguese and Italian friends speak English, although I admit first contacts can be made in this language. Nevertheless, I will defend everywhere the use of the French language. (Good luck with that, President Francois Hollande.)
  • Not all chemicals are bad. For example, without hydrogen and oxygen, there'd be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer. (Author Dave Barry)
  • To a pagan, there is no purpose to suffering; as a result, he lives a life of loneliness and frustration. (Mother Mary Angelica)
  • I think; therefore, I am. (French philosopher René Descartes)

Why Should I Care about Conjunctive Adverbs?

Using a conjunctive adverb is a great way to keep your readers on track because it prepares them for the impending information by contextualising it with the story so far. (NB: As conjunctive adverbs provide the logic for the transition between your ideas, they are also known as transitional phrases.) Here's the biggest mistake with conjunctive adverbs: You can't use a comma before one. No, really, you can't. No, really.
  • I normally like toffees, however, I dislike these ones. [wrong]
  • (This is a very common mistake, especially with the word however.)
Preceding however (or any conjunctive adverb) with a comma and writing a new sentence is known as a run-on error or a comma-fault error. Remember, a conjunctive adverb is typically written with a capital letter and is preceded by the end punctuation (usually a full stop) of the last sentence. It is possible to use a lowercase letter for your conjunctive adverb and precede it with a semicolon, but don't do that too often. It quickly gets annoying.
  • Once you know how to use semicolons, don't. (Me, Craig Shrives)
  • (Don't take this too literally, but try to use semicolons like Rocket Fuel Sauce not salt.)

    Key Point

    • Use a conjunctive adverb at the start of a sentence to provide the transition from one idea to the next.
    • If you want a really smooth transition, precede your conjunctive adverb with a semicolon.
    • Don't precede your conjunctive adverb with a comma. (And, yes, that includes however.)
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