What are subordinating conjunctions?

1 Answer


Please see below.


Subordinating conjunctions mainly join a dependent clause with an independent clause to make either a complex or compound-complex sentence. Confused? Let me explain.


  • Clause: a subject and verb combination, can add modifiers to add detail.
  • Independent clause: a clause that can stand alone, that can make sense without any other clause attached to it.
  • Dependent clause: usually starts with a subordinating conjunction, can't make sense unless an independent clause attaches to it to form a complete sentence.
  • Simple sentence: one independent clause.
  • Compound sentence: two or more independent clauses.
  • Complex sentence: one independent clause + at least one dependent clause.
  • Compound-Complex sentence: two or more independent clauses + at least one dependent clause.
  • Subordinating conjunctions: conjunctions that start a dependent clause.

Subordinating conjunctions start a dependent clause.
- Ex. Because he sleeps

The clause above doesn't make sense. Because he sleeps... what happens? Does he snore because he sleeps? Or perhaps he is late to school because he sleeps? (Uh-oh!) We don't know, so we have to add an independent clause to complete the sentence/"story. Try adding an independent clause to the (incomplete) sentence and share it in the comments.

Alright, on the contrary, subordinating conjunctions will not be present in Independent clauses, mainly because it doesn't need it. Th subordinating conjunctions add to a clause to make it dependent, to show it needs an independent clause to make it complete. Try to create an independent clause and share in the comments.

There are 4 types of sentences when it comes to clauses. Simple, Complex, Compound, and Compound-Complex. The formulas are above, so why don't you try to write some sentences?

The types of sentences are (in my opinion anyways) are a puzzling topic. How to classify them? How to write them? How to know if this is Dependent or Independent? How... well, actually, I can help you with that last question. Cheat sheet!
http://blog.writeathome.com/index.php/2013/07/50-subordinating-conjunctions-and-why-they-matter/ Dependent clauses start in these. Learn to recognize them and you'll be alright.

Back to the questions. To classify sentences, label them "Independent" and "Dependent". Any tricks? Of course! When I am given a sentence to classify, I look for subject and verb combinations. As I stated in the "vocab" section of this answer, a clause is at least one subject and at least one verb. That is the qualities of a clause. But of course, don't get fooled by those infinitives and all, but those are just modifiers. Another trick is to learn about the modifiers, like what they are, their function, and their usual location to know when you have reached the end of a clause. This trick doesn't work well, but usually Compound-Complex sentences are long. Same with Complexes. But don't get thrown off by a simple sentence with many modifiers. Even Simple clauses can be complex. (Actually, no. They can't).

To write these sentences, just remember! A clause is a subject verb combination (usually) with modifiers. Just do that and you'll instantly create an independent clause! But seriously, a dependent clause is an Independent clause with a Subordinate conjunction! Like " Although the clever spy was confused" just take off the "although" and... "The clever spy was confused." Independent! Ta-da!!!

If you have any further questions concerning this answer, ask me!
I hope this helped you!