Sequel to the Prequel


By ANNE DONNELLI called you abut this and suggested then that you use this for a column. My son’s homework involved these, so what are “coordinating conjunctions”?

- Helpful Mother

The conjunctions of last week left us hanging at a cliff’s edge. We didn’t discuss subordinating conjunctions, and as you passed through your week dodging swine flu injections, avoiding cars in the wrong lane going at caterpillar speed, murmuring against rain and threats of rain, clumping through Halloween candy shopping, you were left somehow incomplete, perhaps anxious. Well, that’s life.

What a coincidence! The name of our ONLINE DEPARTMENT selection is “That’s Life” (Thanks, C. G.) • When a man steals your wife, there is no better revenge than to let him keep her.  -David Bissonette • After marriage, husband and wife become two sides of a coin; they just can't face each other, but still they stay together. -Sacha Guitry • By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.  –Socrates • Woman inspires us to great things, and prevents us from achieving them.  –Anonymous • The great question, which I have not been able to answer is, “What does a woman want?” –Dumas • I had some words with my wife, and she had some paragraphs with me. -Sigmund Freud • Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays. –Anonymous • There's a way of transferring funds that is even faster than electronic banking. It's called marriage. -Sam Kinison • I've had bad luck with both my wives. The first one left me, and the second one didn't.  -James Holt McGavra • Two secrets to keep your marriage brimming 1. Whenever you're wrong, admit it, 2. Whenever you're right, shut up. -Patrick Murra • The most effective way to remember your wife's birthday is to forget it once. –Nash • You know what I did before I married? Anything I wanted to.–Anonymous • My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met. -Henny Youngman • A good wife always forgives her husband when she's wrong.  –Rodney Dangerfield • A man inserted an ad in the classifieds: “Wife Wanted” The next day he received a hundred letters. They all said the same thing: “You can have mine.” - Anonymous •  First Guy (proudly): “My wife's an angel!” Second Guy: “You're lucky, mine's still alive.” –Anonymous

Subordinating conjunctions join dependent clauses (usually adverb clauses) to independent clauses. Oh, my. Can’t handle this? OK, an independent clause is a group of words with a subject (sometimes understood, but definitely an influence) and a predicate together making a complete thought. This clause alone could make a sentence. Your ear can identify these without instruction. HOME INSPIRED EXAMPLE OF UNDERLINED INDEPENDENT CLAUSE IN SENTENCE WITH A DEPENDENT CLAUSE. If you don’t clean up your room by tomorrow morning, I’m calling the sheriff. 

In that example If you don’t clean up your room is a dependent clause. Though it has a subject and predicate, it’s not able to function as a sentence. You hear, “If…what?” You don’t hear a complete thought.  

Dependent clauses (the whole clause) function as a part of speech. We have noun dependent clauses, adverb dependent clauses, adjective dependent clauses. The clauses are doing just what the part of speech does. Noun clauses can be subjects, direct objects, predicate nominatives, objects of prepositions and others jobs done by a noun in a sentence. Adverb clause will modify a verb, another adverb, or an adjective. Adjective clauses will modify a noun or pronoun. Would you like to be on a sunny beach right now, reading nothing?

EXAMPLES OF COMMON SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS. If, because, after, since, when, while, until, unless, although, wherever, than, till, as. 

EXAMPLES OF RELATIVE PRONOUN FUNCTIONING AS SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS. First, a relative pronoun is a pronoun connecting a dependent clause to the rest of the sentence. Second, here’s the list of examples. Who, whom, whose, which, what, that. 

EXAMPLE  OF SENTENCE WITH AN UNDERLINED CLAUSE INTRODUCED BY RELATIVE PRONOUN. The person whom you have accused is standing over there.

I know I’m tired; you must be exhausted. But, there’s one more thing about conjunctions that should be mentioned -- beginning sentences with and or but.  “A frequently asked question about conjunctions is whether and or but can be used at the beginning of a sentence. This is what R.W. Burchfield has to say about this use of and: ‘There is a persistent belief that it is improper to begin a sentence with And, but this prohibition has been cheerfully ignored by standard authors from Anglo-Saxon times onwards. An initial And is a useful aid to writers as the narrative continues.” (from The New Fowler's Modern English Usage edited by R.W. Burchfield. Clarendon Press: Oxford, England. 1996.)

“The same is true with the conjunction but. A sentence beginning with and or but will tend to draw attention to itself and its transitional function. Writers should examine such sentences with two questions in mind: (1) would the sentence and paragraph function just as well without the initial conjunction? (2) should the sentence in question be connected to the previous sentence? If the initial conjunction still seems appropriate, use it.”

I’m saying give it a rest. Enough already on the conjunctions. Happy Halloween – or is it Horrible Halloween?  And, after putting you through all this, should I make sure you understand my motive by signing this column, “Love, Anne”? And, would you believe me? LOL