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Using Coordinating Conjunction and Commas professionally (FANBOYS)

Coordinating conjunctions are words that join two independent clauses with the object of establishing and signifying a logical relation between the two. In so far as the English language is concerned, there are seven coordinating conjunctions, namely; For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet and So. For the purposes of memorability, these conjunctions are given the acronym FANBOYS.

In respect of signifying a logical relation between clauses, FANBOYS can be used in a myriad of ways:

1. Showing Contrast or Opposition: ‘But’ and ‘Yet’ are the Coordinating Conjunctions that are used to show juxtaposition between two clauses:

  • I really wanted to buy a new phone, but I had lost all my money.
  • Jack Will claimed to be an outstanding poet, yet he never wrote any poem.

2. Showing Choice or Option: ‘Or’ and ‘Nor’ are generally used to establish that either clause could be used or picked as an alternative.

  • Andre did not go to the Mall, nor did he go to the gas station.
  • Sergeant Anna wanted to have either Pizza or Burger at the restaurant.

2. Showing Addition: ‘And’ is the conjunction used for signifying that the subsequent clause comes in addition to the initial clause:

  • Wayne left the room and entered his car.

 3. Showing Result of Effect: the conjunction ‘So’ is used to show that the subsequent clause is consequential or is as a result of the antecedent clause:

  • Joan needed to see her father, so she left the party.

4. Showing Cause: the conjunction ‘For’ is normally used to show that either clause is the cause of the other:

  • Tony’s car stopped in the middle of the road, for he had run out of gas.

In some of the aforementioned examples, it is noteworthy that commas are used before the coordinating conjunctions. The use of commas before coordinating conjunctions has always been a conundrum for many grammar fanatics. However, the essence of these commas is indispensable. It is of utmost importance to use commas before conjunctions since it enables the reader to know which parts of the sentence are being coordinated.

It is vital to understand that the length of the clause determines greatly whether you would use a comma before a coordinator. In simple sentences with short clauses, the use of a comma is not necessary. A classic example of such a sentence is:

  • Alex went to the bazaar and bought a car.

Conversely, in longer and more complex sentences with extrapolated clauses, the clauses are joined with commas. The following would suffice as an example:

  • They say politics is a dirty game, so I would rather lay low and avert the quagmire that could ensue.

Essentially, the pattern that is prevalent in such compound sentences is as follows; [An independent clause + comma + coordinating conjunction + An Independent Clause]. The following sentence is an exceptional embodiment of this pattern:

  • Jack Will claimed to be an outstanding poet, yet he never wrote any poem.

Generally, commas and FANBOYS are mutually inclusive in compound sentences, and the absence of either could result in grammatical ambiguities. Consequently, it is prudent to equip yourself with the requisite knowledge on how to use coordinating conjunctions and commas professionally.



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