Think of conjunctive adverbs as adverbs. They are usually used at the beginning of a sentence to show how the main idea of the sentence relates to another idea. For example:
- Lisa and Alan were on time. However, John arrived ten minutes late.
* The adverb However shows that the idea of the sentence (“John arrived ten minutes late”) contrasts with the previous idea.
- The employees were tired. As a result, an accident occurred.
* The adverb As a result shows that there is a cause-and-effect relationship with the the accident and the previous sentence.
Do not think of them as conjunctions because these words do not join sentences. They can only join sentences if a semi-colon is used (in that case, the semi-colon is joining the sentence). By confusing these adverbs with conjunctions, students often make a mistake called a comma splice. Example:
There was a scandal, therefore, the company’s president resigned. (Incorrect= These adverbs cannot join two independent clauses)
There was a scandal. Therefore, the company’s president resigned. (Correct: Two independent clauses are separated by a period.)
There was a scandal; therefore, the company’s president resigned. (Correct: the semi-colon is joining the two clauses.)
Why We Use Conjunctive Adverbs
As stated, conjunctive adverbs show how two ideas (often two separate sentences) relate to each other. These relations are usually one of these:
- Giving an example
- Showing a result
Conjunctive adverbs are also known as transition signals because they signal to the reader what will come next. By using these transitions, we make our writing more cohesive and connected, and overall, easier to read. These transition signals are common in academic and professional writing.
Common Conjunctive Adverbs and their Functions
|Ordering & Time|
|Emphasis or Giving More Detail|
|Results or Consequence|
|Conclusion or Summary|
As a student, you do not need to learn all of these, but you should learn at least one or two of each group so you can connect the ideas in your sentences effectively.
Placement of Conjunctive Adverbs
At the Beginning of the Sentence (Most Common)
- For example, people like walking with their dogs.
- Nonetheless, many customers were upset.
At the End of the Sentence
- People like walking with their dogs, for example.
- Many customers were upset, nonetheless.
Between Subject and First Verb
- People, for example, like walking with their dogs.
- Many customers, nonetheless, were upset.
Note: Although is not a Conjunctive Adverb
Although is a subordinate conjunction that begins a dependent clause. It is not a conjunctive adverb.
- I didn’t buy it. Although, I wanted the item. (Incorrect)
- I didn’t buy it although I wanted the item. (Correct: although begins a dependent clause)
- I didn’t buy it. However, I wanted the item. (Correct)
Let’s practice conjunctive adverbs with some exercises. All of the words in the below exercises come from the table above.
Exercise 1: Conjunctive Adverbs (Beginner)
- Bananas are healthy. , they are easy to eat.
- University can cost over $20,000 per year in the United States. , many people simply cannot afford it.
- The company’s owner was extremely rich. , most of her employees were quite poor.
- There are several sports you can play in winter in Canada. , many people enjoy cross-country skiing.
- The participants were asked to sit down. , they were given a form to complete.
Exercise 2: Conjunctive Adverbs (Intermediate)
- Smoking cigarettes can cause several health problems for smokers. , it can affect the health of others who breath in second-hand smoke.
- The title of the book suggests it is a story about success. , the story teaches the reader several important lessons about failure.
- There are many areas Alan wants to visit in Europe. , he really wants to see Switzerland and Italy.
- Linda was studying for her exam. , her brother was watching television in the living room.
- Becoming a doctor requires a lot of study and skill. , doctors’ salaries are relatively high.
Exercise 3: Conjunctive Adverbs (Intermediate)
- Her company’s policy states employees should stay home when sick. , Renee did not go to work because she had a stomach flu.
- The main character is presented as brave and powerful. His best friend Oliver, , is described as a weak boy who lacks confidence.
- , more companies are allowing their employees to work from home., this trend may become the new standard as it offers many benefits for both employees and employers.
- Though the meeting did provide some useful information, most of the participants felt that it was a waste of time.
Exercise 4: Conjunctive Adverbs (Paragraph)
- Smoking in restaurants should be banned. , when people smoke in restaurants, the smoke from their cigarettes affects other people. This smoke, called second-hand smoke, is unhealthy for others to breathe. , a 2011 report from the Johnson Institute stated that second-hand smoke is even more dangerous than the smoke inhaled by the smokers themselves. , smoking negatively affects how food tastes. It has been proven that the sense of smell contributes to how people enjoy their food. , if the restaurant smells like an ashtray, eating food in it will not be as enjoyable. , due to these negative factors, government should take measures to ensure people are not allowed to smoke in restaurants. This will create a better dining experience for smokers and non-smokers.
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