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Three Types of Conjunctions

Three Conjunction Types

Three Types of Conjunctions

Every teacher knows the wisdom of not telling the whole story, especially with respect to holiday celebrations. But for the purpose of this article, let’s add on conjunctions to the list of teach some of it now and save some for later instruction. Elementary teachers should teach the common conjunctions and secondary teachers should build upon that foundation with less frequently used conjunctions.

Following are brief overviews of the three types of conjunctions: coordinating, subordinate (subordinating), and correlative. The relevant Common Core State Standards are provided and memorable acronyms to help your students identify and apply these grammatical forms. Plus, classroom posters are provided as FREE downloads.

Elementary Instruction: Coordinating Conjunctions

Primary and intermediate teachers face the sometimes daunting task of introducing students to coordinating, subordinating, and correlative conjunctions.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.1.1.G
    Use frequently occurring conjunctions (e.g., and, but, or, so, because).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.2.1.F
    Produce, expand, and rearrange complete simple and compound sentences (e.g., The boy watched the movie; The little boy watched the movie; The action movie was watched by the little boy).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.3.1.H
    Use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.4.1.F
    Produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons.*
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.4.2.C
    Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.5.1.A
    Explain the function of conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections in general and their function in particular sentences.

To help students avoid writing in sentence fragments, elementary teachers often counsel their students, “Never start a sentence with but, or, and, or so (the common coordinating conjunctions),” and many teachers would throw in because or like (two subordinating conjunctions) for good measure.

Additionally, most elementary teachers teach the proper use and identification of but, or, and, or so, but not the less frequently used for, nor, and yet. This certainly makes sense.

Elementary teachers may find the BOAS acronym helpful to teach the four common but, or, and, so (boas) coordinating conjunctions:

BOAS (Mark Pennington’s Acronym)

Coordinating Conjunctions for Elementary School

Coordinating Conjunctions

but, or, and, so

Anchor Sentence: I watched and waited to see the boas eat or climb the tree, but they did neither, so I left.

If teaching only the four BOAS seems a bit constricting :), elementary teachers can add in the three additional coordinating conjunctions, usually reserved for middle school.

Secondary Instruction: Coordinating Conjunctions

By middle school, teachers amend the “Never start a sentence with but, or, and, so, because, or like“elementary rule with the addition of “unless you finish the sentence.” Even though the middle school, high school, and college permit and even encourage their developing writers to start sentences with coordinating conjunctions, when appropriate, all would caution their students to use these sentence constructions sparingly.

Plus, secondary teachers will add the three less common and more sophisticated coordinating conjunctions (for, nor, yet) and may use the helpful FANBOYS acronym to teach all seven coordinating conjunctions:

FANBOYS Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating Conjunctions

FANBOYS (Creator Unknown)

for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so

Anchor Sentence: I watched and waited for the boas to eat or climb the tree, but they did neither. They were not hungry nor active, so I left. Yet I would like to see them sometime.

For both elementary and secondary teachers, try using this word part trick to help your students understand the meaning of coordinating conjunctions:

The “co” in coordinating means with in Latin. Coordinating conjunctions join with other words, phrase, or clauses of equal importance or emphasis. Example: Both Juan and Stella are good writers.

Elementary Instruction: Subordinate Conjunctions

Elementary teachers may wish to teach their students the 10 most common subordinate conjunctions to introduce dependent clauses (connected nouns and verbs which do not express complete thoughts) at the beginnings and endings of sentences. Examples: After she gave her speech in front of the class, Leslie sat down. Leslie sat down after she gave her speech in front of the class.

Elementary teachers will find the following acronym helpful to teach students to identify and use these subordinate conjunctions:

AAAWWUBBIS (Jeff Anderson’s Acronym)

Subordinating Conjunctions AAAWWUBBIS

Subordinate Conjunctions

after, although, as, when, while, until, because, before, if, since

Secondary Instruction: Subordinate Conjunctions

Secondary teachers may wish to teach their students the 29 most common subordinate conjunctions to introduce dependent clauses (connected nouns and verbs which do not express complete thoughts) at the beginnings, in the middle, and the endings of sentences. Examples: After she gave her speech in front of the class, Leslie sat down and heaved a huge sigh of relief. Leslie sat down, after she gave her speech in front of the class, and heaved a huge sigh of relief. Leslie sat down and heaved a huge sigh of relief after she gave her speech in front of the class.

Secondary teachers will find the following acronym helpful to teach students to identify and use these subordinate conjunctions:

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinate Conjunctions

Bud is wise, but hot! AAA WWW (Mark Pennington’s Acronym)

Bud is wise, before, unless, despite (in spite of), in order that, so, while, if, since, even though (if)

but hot! because, until, that, how, once, than

AAA after, although (though), as (as if, as long as, as though)

WWW whether, when (whenever), where (wherever)

For both elementary and secondary teachers, try using this word part trick to help your students understand the meaning of subordinating conjunctions:

The “sub” in subordinating means under or below in Latin. Subordinating conjunctions begin adverbial clauses, which are under or below the connecting main (independent clause) in terms of importance or emphasis. Example: Because you listened well this morning, we will work in our groups this afternoon.

Upper Elementary and Secondary Instruction: Correlative Conjunctions (Correlative is pronounced as cor/rél/lƏ/tive.)

Teach the common correlative conjunctions:

both−and; such−that; whether−or; as−as; not−but; neither−nor; no sooner−than; either−or; as many−as; rather−than

For both elementary and secondary teachers, try using this word part trick to help your students understand the meaning of correlative conjunctions:

The “cor” in correlative means to run (correr in Spanish) and “rel” indicates a relationship (in Latin). Coordinating conjunctions are word pairs which run in relationship with each other. The word pairs join parallel words, phrases, or clauses. In grammar, parallel means similar in meaning, structure, and length. Examples: Either chocolate or vanilla is fine. Both girls like chocolate, and they also like vanilla.

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I’m Mark Pennington, author of many popular, easy-to-teach grammar resources. Check out these three types of grammar resources: 1. the interactive notebook 2. literacy centers and 3. my traditional grade-level grammar programs.

Of the three, the interactive notebook lends itself to more individualized practice and has online links. The literacy centers involve group work. The traditional grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and high school grammar programs require direct instruction in each of the grade-level standards with mentor texts, simple sentence diagrams, and formative assessments. All grade 4–8 programs include biweekly quizzes.

All three types of grammar programs provide diagnostic assessments and targeted worksheets to help students master deficits indicated by the diagnostic grammar and mechanics assessments.

Want the poster size 11 x 17 Conjunction Posters you see in this article for your classroom? I’ll send the PDFs right away to your email.

Get the Conjunction Posters FREE Resource:

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How to Teach Complex Sentences

Simply put: Learning to write complex sentences will improve your students’ writing. Perhaps no other revision tool produces a greater “bang for the buck.” However, even the best tools can be overused. A contractor may love her “go-to” nail gun, but sometimes a simple hammer may better fit the task.

Our job as writing teachers is to show developing writers how complex sentences help authors communicate efficiently, precisely, and coherently (three academic language words every student should learn). So often, with our justifiable focus on getting students to write in complete sentences during the primary grades, developing writers get caught in a pit trap of writing simple sentences only in the SUBJECT-PREDICATE-OBJECT pattern. Students need a sturdy ladder to climb out of this trap.

The complex sentence is aptly named. Understanding, recognizing, and producing complex sentences require a substantial amount of prior knowledge and experience in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. We can (and should) use a few short-cuts to get to the end goal of getting students to use complex sentences in their own writing, but we do no service to them by ignoring, simplifying, or generalizing the requisite scaffolds of academic language and syntax. Kids gotta learn how their language works. Yes, that involves plenty of grammar instruction and practice.

To scaffold how to teach complex sentences, teach each rung of the ladder well. Tighten up each of the wobbly rungs and don’t skip any. Your learners are diverse. Who knows what they know and don’t know? (Although you could give my diagnostic grammar and usage assessment to find out).

How to Teach Complex Sentences Ladder

How to Teach Complex Sentences

Connect to and Build Prior Knowledge

RUNG 1

“First, let’s review the characteristics of a simple sentence.”

Write or display these definitions and examples, read them out loud, and tell students to copy them.

“A simple sentence has three characteristics: 1. It tells a complete thought. 2. It has both a subject and a predicate. The subject is a noun or pronoun and serves as the “do-er” of the sentence. A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. A pronoun takes the place of a noun. The predicate is a verb or verbs and acts upon the subject or links the subject to something else in the sentence. 3. When read out loud, a simple sentence makes the voice drop down at the end of a statement or go up at the end of a question. Examples: Karen enjoys chocolate. Do you like chocolate?

Identify the Problem: Connect to Oral Language and Reading

RUNG 2 

Convince students that too many simple sentences strung together can be a problem, especially in essays. Reading out loud helps students identify the machine gun quality of repetitive simple sentences. Write or display this paragraph and read it out loud.

“Now listen to me as I read this paragraph of simple sentences. Afterwards, let’s read the paragraph out loud together as a class.”

     Thomas Alva Edison was born into a well-educated family. He had a lot of challenges to overcome. Tom was the youngest of seven children. Tom did not receive undivided attention from his parents. His parent had so many children. Thomas did not learn to talk as a young boy. His parents did not interact much with him. His siblings did not interact much with him. He finally learned to talk. He began talking at age four. Then he would not stop. He asked why and how questions about everything.

Debrief with your students: “What did you think about how this paragraph is written? How did it sound? Each sentence in the paragraph is a simple sentence. We can combine simple sentences with a conjunction to form another type of sentence: the compound sentences. A conjunction is a joining word. When we combine simple sentences, we change the name of a simple sentence to an independent clause. Let’s copy these definitions and example: A simple sentence is an independent clause. Two or more joined independent clauses form a compound sentence. Example: Then he would not stop, and he asked why and how questions about everything.

Another type of sentence is the complex sentence. Let’s listen to me as I read the same paragraph, revised with some revised complex sentences. Afterwards, we will read the paragraph out loud together as a class.”

Identify the Solution: Connect to Oral Language and Reading

RUNG 3

Convince students that adding sentence variety by including complex sentences makes writing more efficient, precise, and coherent. “Now listen to me as I read this paragraph of simple sentences. Afterwards, let’s read the paragraph out loud together as a class.”

     Although Thomas Alva Edison was born into a well-educated family, he had a lot of challenges to overcome. Tom was the youngest of seven children. Because his parents had so many children, Tom did not receive their undivided attention. Thomas did not learn to talk as a young boy since his parents and siblings rarely interacted with him. When he finally learned to talk at age four, he would not stop. He asked why and how questions about everything.

Debrief with your students: “Does this revised paragraph  provide the same information as the first? What did you think about how this revised paragraph is written? How did it sound? Many of the sentences in this revised paragraph are complex sentences. Let’s copy this down: A complex sentence has one independent clause and at least one dependent clause. A dependent clause has three characteristics: 1. It begins with a subordinate conjunction.  Subordinate means less important than or under the control of someone or something else. 2. It has at least one noun or a pronoun and at least one connected verb. 3. When read out loud, a dependent clause does not makes the voice drop down at the end of a statement. Example: Although (subordinate conjunction) Mike (noun) and I (pronoun) listen (verb), (When read out loud the voice does not drop down.)

Now let’s figure out how the author formed complex sentences to make the our own writing efficient, precise, and coherent. Efficient means to be well-organized and not wasteful. Precise means to be specific and exact. Coherent means to be logical, orderly, and consistent.”

Common Subordinating Conjunctions

Bud is wise, but hot! AAA WWW Subordinating Conjunctions

Teach How to Write Dependent Clauses

RUNG 4 

“Write down this formula for writing dependent clauses: dependent clause = subordinate conjunction (Bud is wise, but hot! AAA WWW) + at least noun or pronoun + at least one connected verb + any other words. 

Bud is wise, but hot! AAA WWW is a memory trick to help you remember the common subordinate conjunctions. Copy down this list, underlining the first letter of each subordinate conjunction:”

before, unless, despite (in spite of), in order that, so, while, if, since, even though (if), because, until, that, how, once, than, after, although (though), as (as if, as long as, as though), whether, when (whenever), where (wherever)

Have students write and share five dependent clauses in their notebooks and pair share as you monitor this guided practice.

Teach How to Connect Dependent Clauses to Independent Clauses

RUNG 5 

“A dependent clause added onto an independent clause (a simple sentence) forms a complex sentence. The dependent clause may be placed at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a sentence. Copy these sentences with their examples.

Place a comma after a dependent clause that begins a sentence. Example: After I sneeze, I always blow my nose.

Place commas before and after a dependent clause in the middle of the sentence. Example: I use a handkerchief, when I sneeze, to be polite.

Don’t place a comma before a dependent clause that ends a sentence. Example: I stop sneezing when it’s not allergy season.”

Assign a Formative Assessment to Determine Mastery

RUNG 6 

Write a short paragraph in which you use three complex sentences: one at the beginning of a sentence; one in the middle of a sentence; and one at the end of a sentence.

Extend the Learning: Writing Style

RUNG 7 

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Teach students to avoid using more than two complex sentences in a row in any given paragraph. Overuse of simple sentences is problematic, but the same is true with complex sentences. Review the revised paragraph above and analyze the different types of sentences, their placements within the paragraph, and the placement of the dependent clause within the complex sentences themselves. Analyze the types of sentences in both narrative and expository text.

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Teaching Grammar and Mechanics for Grades 4-High School

Teaching Grammar and Mechanics Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and High School Programs

I’m Mark Pennington, author of the full-year interactive grammar notebooks,  grammar literacy centers, and the traditional grade-level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and high school Teaching Grammar and Mechanics programs. Teaching Grammar and Mechanics includes 56 (64 for high school) interactive language conventions lessons,  designed for twice-per-week direct instruction in the grade-level grammar, usage, and mechanics standards. The scripted lessons (perfect for the grammatically-challenged teacher) are formatted for classroom display. Standards review, definitions and examples, practice and error analysis, simple sentence diagrams, mentor texts with writing applications, and formative assessments are woven into every 25-minute lesson. The program also includes the Diagnostic Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Assessments with corresponding worksheets to help students catch up, while they keep up with grade-level, standards-aligned instruction.

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Programs

Or why not get the value-priced Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 BUNDLES? These grade-level programs include both teacher’s guide and student workbooks and are designed to help you teach all the Common Core Anchor Standards for Language. In addition to the Teaching Grammar and Mechanics program, each BUNDLE provides weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of the grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary components.

The program also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment.

Check out the brief introductory video and enter DISCOUNT CODE 3716 at check-out for 10% off this value-priced program. We do sell print versions of the teacher’s guide and student workbooks. Contact mark@penningtonpublishing.com for pricing. Read what teachers are saying about this comprehensive program:

The most comprehensive and easy to teach grammar, mechanics, spelling, and vocabulary program. I’m teaching all of the grade-level standards and remediating previous grade-level standards. The no-prep and minimal correction design of this program really respects a teacher’s time. At last, I’m teaching an integrated program–not a hodgepodge collection of DOL grammar, spelling and vocabulary lists, and assorted worksheets. I see measurable progress with both my grade-level and intervention students. BTW… I love the scripted lessons!

─Julie Villenueve

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