What is a Subordinating Conjunction?

Subordinating Conjunction

Subordinating conjunctions (a word or a phrase) introduce a subordinating clause, such as ‘although‘ or ‘because.’ They link a dependent clause to an independent clause.

What are conjunctions?

A conjunction is a word that joins sentences, clauses, or other singular words together. It’s a type of connective (a term for any word that connects bits of text). In this case, conjunctions link two parts of a sentence together.

At this point, you might be wondering why we need conjunctions. They play a significant role by allowing us to form longer, more complex sentences that clearly express our ideas. Otherwise, we’d be limited to simple sentences made up of a single clause. For example:

“I like playing tennis. I like walking.”

“I like playing tennis, and I like walking.”

What are subordinating conjunctions?

Subordinating conjunctions include words like although and because. Take a look at this table to see how subordinating conjunctions can join the independent and subordinate clause

Independent/ Main clause Subordinating clause Subordinate clause
Sam wasn’t allowed in the car anymore Because he told James he wouldn’t wear a seat belt.
The teacher reads to their students When They have English reading lessons.

Now that we know a bit about this type of conjunction, let’s read on and take a quick look at another kind while we answer an essential question: ‘is ‘but’ a subordinating conjunction?’.

Is ‘but’ a subordinating conjunction?

Now that we have pretty good knowledge about these conjunctions, you may wonder if ‘is ‘but’ a subordinating conjunction?’.

The word ‘but’ is a coordinating conjunction. This is another type of conjunction with a critical difference; unlike subordinating conjunctions, where a dependent clause is linked to an independent one, a coordinating conjunction is where two clauses of equal rank are connected. For example:

  • ‘I’d like a slice of that cake, but I’m on a diet
  • ‘I left home late this morning, but luckily I still caught the bus.’
  • ‘I like pears, but I’m not too fond of apples’

In each example, ‘but’ links two clauses of equal value to the reader. So now that we know the answer to ‘is ‘but’ a subordinating conjunction?’, let’s move on and look at some more examples.

What are the 12 subordinating conjunctions?

Your students will learn 17 common subordinating conjunctions in primary education. These include

  1. After
  2. Although
  3. As
  4. Because
  5. Before
  6. How
  7. Once
  8. Since
  9. That
  10. Where
  11. Whether
  12. While.

What are subordinating conjunction examples in sentences?

Perhaps the most common subordinating example is the word ‘because.’ For example, the sentence ‘Because her shoes were too tight is incomplete. On its own, a clause beginning with ‘because’ is incomplete.

To fix this, we need more information in the form of an independent clause for the sentence to make sense. Join us in improving this confusing and incomplete sentence. By adding the independent clause, ‘Samantha’s feet had been hurting all day, and the subordinate conjunction, we can create a much better sentence. Let’s combine the two clauses to create ‘Samantha’s feet had been hurting all day because her shoes were too tight.

Here are five more examples of subordinating conjunctions with their uses in a sentence.

  • After
  • Before
  • Though
  • Unless
  • While
  1. After finishing his dinner, James went to ride his bike.
  2. This is the main clause before this subordinating clause.
  3. It’s sunny outside today, though it might rain later.
  4. Unless it rains, we’ll picnic by the river tomorrow.
  5. Jonah likes rock music, while his sister likes pop ballads.

When will children learn about subordinating conjunctions?

Children will learn about different types of conjunctions during primary school English lessons. They’ll no doubt have plenty of questions to ask, from ‘what is a conjunction?’ to ‘is ‘but’ a subordinating conjunction?’. Luckily, there are also loads of handy methods for teaching conjunctions.

The mnemonic device ‘I SAW A WABUB’ is excellent for teaching children subordinate conjunctions and helping them to remember the main ones. It stands for:

  • If
  • Since
  • As
  • When
  • Although
  • While
  • After
  • Before
  • Until
  • Because
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