Conjunctions: Subordinating

Subordinating conjunctions introduce dependent (subordinate) clauses and join the dependent clause to the independent or main clause in a sentence. (A dependent clause has a subject and verb, but it depends on the independent clause for context and meaning.)

Common Subordinating Conjunctions:
After* Rather than Although Since In order that While Even though
As So As if Than If
As long as That As though Though If only Whereas Wherever
Because Unless Before* Until* Even if When Whenever
*These subordinating conjunctions can also act as prepositions, but as subordinating conjunctions they introduce a clause not a prepositional phrase.

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Subordinate clauses modify the independent clause in some way or act as parts of speech in relation to the independent clause.

[In the following examples, the subordinating conjunction is bold and the subordinate clause is underlined.]

Subordinate clause as an adverb clause.

  • He was the first president to serve when the popular culture had merged with politics in a celebrity-obsessed culture.

The subordinate clause answers the question when about the independent clause.

  • The recession was over for a year and a half before Clinton took office.

The subordinate clause answers the question when about the independent clause.

  • Clinton was criticized for failing to push negotiating authority for trade agreements because he didn’t want to alienate organized labor.

The subordinate clause tells why or the condition under which the independent clause occurred.

Subordinate clause as a noun clause.

  • Many prominent Democrats conceded that the catalog contained enough truth to mean the party had to change.

The subordinate clause tells us what the Democrats concede. It is a direct object.

  • James Carville said he considers it the low point of the Clinton presidency.

The subordinate clause tells us what the James Carville said. The subordinating conjunction THAT between SAID and HE is implied.

Subordinate clause as an adjective clause.

  • The announcers claimed this was the product that we could all count on.

The subordinate clause tells us what kind of product it is.

  • This is the plan until the captain arrives with a better one.

The subordinate clause describes the plan.

NOTE: Usually no comma is needed before a subordinating conjunction if the dependent clause follows the independent clause.

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  1. says

    Dear Director,

    Your information on correlative and subordination conjuctions is so precise and helpful. Thanks a lot.

    What I’m concerned related with correlative conjuctions is whether they build compound and simple sentence structures or not. I think this crucial grammar point should be clarified through examples stressing on the types of sentences.

    Best regards,
    Hasan Volkan

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