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Transition Words | Page 3

Subordinating Conjunctions as Transition Words

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In the previous part of this lesson, you saw how to use coordinating conjunctions as transition words. You can also use subordinating conjunctions for the same purpose.

Besides the relationships between ideas we saw with the coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so), subordinating conjunctions can express some additional relationships, which may be just what you need when you are writing.

What Subordinating Conjunctions Are

Subordinating conjunctions join two types of sentences together: an independent and a dependent clause. The independent clause is the main clause, and it can stand on its own. The dependent clause is part of the main clause. It is “embedded” within the main clause. Look at the example below:

Analyze the following sentences:

  1. I went out despite the rain.
  2. I went out although it was raining.

“Despite the rain” is a prepositional phrase embedded in Sentence 1. It is not a complete sentence.

Sentence 2 mirrors that pattern, except a dependent clause is embedded in it. The main clause is “I went out.” The dependent clause has a subject and a verb, but it is embedded within the main clause with a subordinating conjunction, “although.”

How to Use Punctuation with Subordinating Conjunctions

You saw that you should use a comma when combining two ideas using coordinating conjunctions (e.g., “It was late, so I went to bed.”). (This is written as: It was late. Comma. So I went to bed.)

When you use a subordinating conjunction, you do not have two complete sentences; rather, you have a main sentence which has a dependent clause embedded in it. As a result, you do not need a comma.

Compare these example sentences

Example 1

  • We were hungry, so we ate late. (a comma before the conjunction)
  • We ate late because we were hungry. (no comma)

Example 2

  • It was already after 9 p.m., but dinner was not ready yet. (a comma before the conjunction)
  • Dinner was not ready yet even though it was already after 9 p.m. (no comma)

Except! Sometimes You Do Need a Comma

If you start the sentence with the dependent clause, you must set it off from the main clause with a comma. This has nothing to do with the use of a subordinating conjunction; rather, it has to do with fronting the dependent clause.

Compare these example sentences

Example 1

  • Dinner was not ready yet even though it was already after 9 p.m. (no comma)
  • Even though it was already after 9 p.m., dinner was not ready yet.(a comma after the dependent clause starting the sentence)

Example 2

  • Please call me as soon as you get home. (no comma)
  • As soon as you get home, please call me. (comma after the dependent clause starting the sentence)

Subordinating Conjunctions and Relationships

Subordinating conjunctions express roughly seven different relationships between ideas.

Cause

as
because
since

Example Sentences

  • You should buy it now as supplies may not last very long.
  • He left the party early because he had an early flight the next morning.
  • The instructor rescheduled the test since half the class had fallen ill.

Comparison

as much as
as though
as if
just as
rather than
whereas
while

Example Sentences

  • His brother was an excellent student whereas John struggled throughout college.
  • His brother was much smarter than John ever was.
  • We should do something about the problem rather than just sit here and complain.
  • We need to stay out of our children’s lives as much as we sometimes want to solve their problems for them.
  • He spends money as though he were a millionaire.

Concession

although
even though
notwithstanding
even if

Example Sentences

  • This house is very well built even though it needs a few repairs.
  • Although he is a millionaire, Alex doesn’t like spending any money.
  • His desire to buy a new car notwithstanding, he never managed to save any money.
  • You should take the exam even if you think you may not pass.

Condition

if
in case
provided that
unless

Example Sentences

  • You can take the exam right now if you think you’re ready.
  • You should go visit Matilda at the hospital if you have the time.
  • Call your doctor in case you think he should change your medication.
  • You can leave early provided that you complete all your tasks for the day.
  • You will not pass the course unless you complete all assignments on time.

Place

where
wherever

Example Sentences

  • Put the box away wherever you find room in the closet.
  • He left the company where he worked for 35 years.

Purpose

in order that
so (that)

Example Sentences

  • Martha is learning Spanish so that she can go to college in Mexico.
  • Martha is learning Spanish so she can go to college in Mexico.

Time

after
as soon as
as long as
before
once
until
when
whenever
while

Example Sentences

  • Martha’s Spanish improved quickly after she moved to Mexico.
  • Martha started dating someone as soon as she started school.
  • Martha has wanted to live in Mexico for as long as I remember.
  • I start sneezing whenever I vacuum the carpet.

Practice

Practice 2: Complete this exercise to practice using coordinating conjunctions.

Connecting Parts Farther Apart

These conjunctions connect ideas within a sentence, but you can also connect chunks of information that are farther apart using conjunctive adverbs.

Continue the lesson to see how by using the “Navigate This Page” button below.

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