Subordinating ConjunctionsA subordinating conjunction links a subordinate clause to the main clause.
Here's a list of common subordinating conjunctions:
|after||in the event that||though|
|although||just in case||until|
|as soon as||once||whenever|
|by the time||rather than||wherever|
|even though||so that||whether or not|
|in order that|
Easy Examples of Subordinating ConjunctionsIn each example below, the subordinating conjunction is underlined, and the subordinate clause is in bold. (The normal text is the main clause.)
- Keep your hand on the wound until the bleeding stops.
- Steve will sleep wherever there's a bed.
- She left because Mike arrived.
- If it rains, the bet is off.
- Even though she's skint, she'll still look a million dollars.
Real-Life Examples of Subordinating ConjunctionsThe role of the subordinating conjunction and subordinate clause is to establish a time, a place, a reason, a condition or a concession for the main clause.
- I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. (Comedian Groucho Marx) (The subordinate clause establishes a time for the main clause.)
- Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity. (Greek physician Hippocrates) (The subordinate clause establishes a place for the main clause.)
- People are more violently opposed to fur than leather because it's safer to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs. (The subordinate clause establishes a reason for the main clause.)
- Man is ready to die for an idea, provided that idea is not quite clear to him. (Author Paul Eldridge) (The subordinate clause establishes a condition for the main clause.)
- I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught. (Sir Winston Churchill) (The subordinate clause establishes a concession for the main clause.)
Why Should I Care about Subordinating Conjunctions?As a native English speaker, you don't need to worry about whether your subordinating conjunction is heading up a clause that establishes a time, a place, a reason, a condition or a concession. You'll do that bit naturally.
The most common question related to subordinating conjunctions is whether to offset the subordinate clause with a comma or not. Here's the guidance:
When a subordinate clause starts a sentence, separate it from the main clause with a comma.
- If you shoot at mimes, should you use a silencer? (Comedian Steven Wright)
- Now that I'm over sixty, I'm veering toward respectability. (Actress Shelley Winters)
When a subordinate clause ends a sentence, you can drop the comma.
- Should you use a silencer if you shoot at mimes?
- I'm veering toward respectability now that I'm over sixty.
As a rule, try to resist using a comma before a subordinating conjunction. However, if you want to create a pause for effect, then a comma can be used.
- Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons. (Film director Woody Allen)
- Man is ready to die for an idea, provided that idea is not quite clear to him.
- If your subordinate conjunction heads up a clause at the start of your sentence, offset the clause with a comma.
- If your subordinate conjunction heads up a clause at the back of your sentence, don't use a comma (unless you want a pause for effect).