How to Use Conjunctive Adverbs with Helpful Examples

Conjunctive adverbs are a crucial component of English grammar that can help you create coherent and connected sentences. These adverbs function as both conjunctions and adverbs, providing information about the relationship between two clauses or sentences. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of conjunctive adverbs, exploring their different types, functions, and usage. Get ready to take your writing to the next level!

What Is a Conjunctive Adverb?

Conjunctive Adverbs

Conjunctive adverbs are adverbs that are used to either tie two independent clauses together or interrupt a single main clause. By using conjunctive adverbs, one can allow for the smooth transition from one idea to another, even if these ideas conflict.

They explain the connection that these ideas have to each other: whether or not they work together, conflict, occur simultaneously or occur one after the other in a specific sequence of events may determine which conjunctive adverb will properly convey the sentence’s meaning.

Some common conjunctive adverbs include:

  • However
  • Therefore
  • Furthermore
  • Nevertheless
  • Hence
  • Meanwhile
  • Consequently

How Are Conjunctive Adverbs Used?

There are two major scenarios where you may find yourself using conjunctive adverbs: when connecting two main clauses, and when interrupting or introducing a single clause.

Connecting two main clauses into a single sentence

In this situation, the conjunctive adverb is used as a way to flow smoothly from one idea to another in a single sentence. When using conjunctive adverbs in this scenario, a semicolon is utilized to separate the two ideas. Consider the following ideas or clauses:

  • I woke up late for school and had to rush out the door. I didn’t eat breakfast.

Then consider the implied meaning behind these clauses: “If I hadn’t woken up late for school, I would have eaten breakfast,” or, “I would have eaten breakfast had I not woken up late for school.” In order to tie these thoughts together smoothly while still maintaining the two clauses’ independent meanings, consider the following use of a conjunctive adverb:

=> I woke up late for school and had to rush out the door; otherwise, I would have taken the time to eat breakfast.

In this sentence, otherwise is acting as a conjunctive adverb. It shows that the second clause is a subsequent result of the preceding clause, and had that not been the case, the speaker would have acted differently. Notice the punctuation that is used in this scenario; a semicolon (;) before the conjunctive adverb, and a comma (,) immediately after.

Interrupting or introducing an independent main clause

In this situation, a conjunctive adverb can be used to introduce or conclude a single clause. When using conjunctive adverbs in this fashion, it can oftentimes be used at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence. Consider the following clauses:

  • I ate too much for dinner. My stomach started to hurt.

In this case, it is fairly easy to see the connection between these two ideas; the speaker’s stomach hurts because they ate too much for dinner.

There are a few different conjunctive adverbs that can be used in this scenario to maintain this meaning:

  • I ate too much for dinner. Therefore, my stomach started to hurt.
  • I ate too much for dinner. Consequently, my stomach started to hurt.

In these examples, therefore and consequently act as connectors that indicate the causational relationship between the two independent clauses while keeping them separated. Certain conjunctive adverbs, when used in this way, can come at multiple points in the second main clause. For example, consider the word however in the following examples.

  • I worked 40 hours last week. However, I didn’t have enough money to pay my rent.
  • I worked 40 hours last week. I didn’t, however, have enough money to pay my rent.
  • I worked 40 hours last week. I didn’t have enough money to pay my rent, however.

When used at the beginning of a new independent clause, separate the conjunctive adverb from the rest of the sentence with a comma. When used in the middle of a sentence, in between the subject and the main verb (in this case, I and have), place commas both before and after the conjunctive adverb. In the last example, though it is technically grammatically correct, the flow of the overall sentence is not as smooth. If you wish to use this sentence structure, separate the conjunctive adverb from the rest of the preceding clause with a comma.

Examples of Conjunctive Adverbs

Conjunctive adverbs come in many forms and stand to serve a variety of purposes. When considering using a conjunctive adverb, keep in mind the connection between the two clauses that you wish to maintain.

  • If the clauses conflict: however, otherwise, nevertheless, conversely
  • If the clauses do not conflict or otherwise elaborate on each other: accordingly, also, moreover, furthermore, likewise
  • If the first clause directly results in the second clause: therefore, subsequently, consequently
  • If the second clause is not necessarily a direct result of the first clause but follows it chronologically: then, finally, next
  • If the first and second clauses occur at the same time: simultaneously, meanwhile

Examples in Sentences

If the clauses conflict:

  • She loves chocolate. However, she is allergic to it.
  • I wanted to go out. Otherwise, I would have stayed home.
  • He is not very talented. Nevertheless, he works hard.
  • She loves spicy food. Conversely, her sister cannot tolerate it.

If the clauses do not conflict or otherwise elaborate on each other:

  • She is a talented musician. Accordingly, she won the competition.
  • He loves to play basketball. Also, he enjoys watching it on TV.
  • She is a talented artist. Moreover, she is also a skilled writer.
  • He is a talented musician. Furthermore, he is also a great singer.
  • She loves to paint. Likewise, her sister is also a talented artist.

If the first clause directly results in the second clause:

  • She missed the train. Therefore, she was late for the meeting.
  • He failed the test. Subsequently, he had to retake the course.
  • She ate too much. Consequently, she felt sick.

If the second clause is not necessarily a direct result of the first clause but follows it chronologically:

  • She woke up early. Then, she went for a run.
  • He finished his work. Finally, he could relax.
  • She packed her bags. Next, she headed to the airport.

If the first and second clauses occur at the same time:

  • She was cooking dinner. Meanwhile, he was setting the table.
  • They were watching a movie. Simultaneously, they were eating popcorn.

Conjunctive Adverbs vs. Similar Grammatical Devices

Conjunctive adverbs are transition words used to connect independent clauses or sentences by showing the relationship between them. Examples of conjunctive adverbs include “however,” “also,” “therefore,” and “consequently.” These adverbs smooth the transition between two clauses but, unlike coordinating conjunctions, they alone cannot link two independent clauses. To do so, a semicolon or period is needed before the conjunctive adverb and a comma after it. Here’s an example:

  • She wanted to go to the park; however, it started raining.

Conjunctive Adverbs vs. Coordinating Conjunctions

Conjunctive adverbs and coordinating conjunctions are both used to connect clauses in sentences, but their roles and functions differ.

Coordinating conjunctions are used to join words, phrases, or clauses of equal importance, creating a sense of balance. They consist of seven words: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so (FANBOYS). When joining two complete sentences, a comma is placed before the coordinating conjunction. For example:

  • She wanted to go to the park, but it started raining.

Here are some key differences between conjunctive adverbs and coordinating conjunctions:

  • Punctuation: Conjunctive adverbs require a semicolon or period before and a comma after, whereas coordinating conjunctions only need a comma before them when joining two complete sentences.
  • Function: Conjunctive adverbs show the relationship between two independent clauses, while coordinating conjunctions join words, phrases, or clauses of equal importance.
  • Examples: Conjunctive adverbs include words like “however,” “meanwhile,” “therefore,” and “otherwise,” while coordinating conjunctions are the FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).

Conjunctive Adverbs vs. Subordinating Conjunction

Subordinating conjunctions are words or phrases that link an independent clause to a dependent clause, forming a complex sentence. These connectors often indicate a relationship of time, cause, condition, or opposition between the clauses. Examples include becausealthough, and if. Consider this example:

  • Buses are an easy form of transport in the city, although they have fewer stops.

To help identify whether a connector is a conjunctive adverb or a subordinating conjunction, you can apply the following test: if you can pause after using the connector in a sentence, it is likely a conjunctive adverb; if not, it is probably a subordinating conjunction.

Conjunctive Adverbs vs. Transitional Phrases

Transitional phrases consist of a combination of words that help bridge ideas and clarify connections between sentences or clauses. Some common transitional phrases include “in addition”, “on the contrary”, and “as a result”. These phrases can be used with a semicolon to join two independent clauses or set off with commas when standing alone with an independent clause. For example:

  • The weather was cold and rainy; as a result, the event was moved indoors.
  • He enjoys playing soccer; in addition, he likes watching basketball games on TV.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the proper punctuation for using conjunctive adverbs?

When using conjunctive adverbs in a sentence, proper punctuation is essential. To connect two independent clauses, place a semicolon (;) before the conjunctive adverb, followed by a comma (,) after it. For example: “He wanted to visit the museum; however, it was closed for renovations.”

How can I identify a conjunctive adverb in a sentence?

To identify a conjunctive adverb in a sentence, look for words that demonstrate a relationship between two independent clauses. These words often indicate contrast, cause and effect, sequence, or comparison. Examples include however, therefore, moreover, and similarly. Usually, they are preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma.

What are some common examples of conjunctive adverbs?

Some common examples of conjunctive adverbs include:

  • however
  • therefore
  • moreover
  • nevertheless
  • furthermore
  • still
  • consequently
  • also
  • then
  • similarly

These words help you smoothly connect independent clauses and demonstrate their relationship, whether that’s contrast, sequence, comparison, or cause and effect.

How do conjunctive adverbs improve sentence structure?

Conjunctive adverbs improve sentence structure by adding clarity, coherence, and variety. They establish the relationship between independent clauses, making the connection between ideas more explicit and easier to understand. Utilizing conjunctive adverbs in your writing allows for smoother transitions and a more sophisticated, polished style.