Using Coordinating Conjunctions (FANBOYS): Rules & Exercises

There are seven coordinating conjunctions in English. These words are

  • F = for
  • A = and
  • N = nor
  • B = but
  • O = or
  • Y = yet
  • S = so

Coordinating conjunctions are also called FANBOYS because the first letter of each word can spell FANBOYS.

Joining Independent Clauses

One purpose of a coordinating conjunction is to join two independent clauses (simple sentences). For example:

{ simple sentence } . { simple sentence } .

I am hungry. I do not have any food.

With a coordinating conjunction:

{ simple sentence } , [FANBOYS]  { simple sentence } .

I am hungry, but I do not have any food.

When you combine two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction, you create a compound sentence. Often, using compound sentence is better because it helps the reader understand how the two ideas relate to each other. Because you have added "but", it shows that the ideas in each clause contrast.

Joining Nouns (Phrases)

Some coordinating conjunctions can also join noun phrases. (A noun phrase is a word like "pizza" or "delicious pizza"). For example,

  • She likes basketball and soccer. (two nouns joined by and)
  • You can have soup or salad.
  • She cannot dance nor sing.
  • She looked beautiful yet worried.


  • When joining phrases, do not put a comma before the coordinating conjunction.
  • The coordinating conjunctions so and for cannot join phrases.

Coordinating Conjunction Functions

Here is a table that shows the functions of each coordinating conjunction:

for: used to show cause & effect (similar to 'because')

  • She was tired, for she did not sleep well last night.

and: used to join two related ideas (the ideas do not contrast)

  • I went to the store, and I bought a banana. 

nor: used with two negative ideas. (Note: nor is often used with neither. Also, with nor, the subject (my sister) and auxiliary verb (did) are reversed)

  • I did not like the movie nor did my sister.

but: used to show contrast between two ideas (one idea is often positive, but the other is negative)

  • I went to the store, but it was closed.

or: used to join two different choices

  • You can take the bus, or you can walk with me.

yet: used for contrast (the same as but)

  • The movie was boring, yet I watched all of it.

so: used for cause & effect (similar to for but the order of ideas is the opposite)

  • She did not sleep last night, so she was tired.
These faces show contrast.

The man is happy, but then he is sad. (This image shows contrast.)

Notes about Coordinating Conjunctions

1. The most common FANBOYS are and, but, or, so. The conjunction for is old-fashioned and rarely used.

2. In academic and professional writing, FANBOYS are generally not used to start sentences. Instead, they are used to join two independent clauses to make a compound sentence. However, in informal writing and speaking, FANBOYS are often used to start sentences.

3. If you are joining two independent clauses, then some teachers believe it is best to put a comma before the coordinating conjunction. If you are joining two phrases (i.e. nouns), then a comma is not required. Compare:

  • {I opened the front door}, and {the dog quickly ran outside.} (with a comma)

Both {independent sentences} are complete thoughts that can be written as simple sentences. If you want to combine them, some teachers believe that you should put a comma before the FANBOYS.

  • {I bought pizza} and {a hotdog}. (noun)

The second phrase, "a hot dog" is not an independent clause (there is no subject or verb). Therefore, you should not put a comma before "and".

  • {She looked in her bag} but {didn't find her pen}.

Again, the second part {but didn't find her pen} is not a complete thought (the subject is missing). Therefore, do not put a comma before 'but'.


Do you think you understand? Insert the correct coordinating conjunction below.

Exercises: Coordinating conjunctions

  1. It was raining, we still had fun.
  2. I could not go into the store, it was closed.
  3. She was quite sleepy, she continued to study.
  4. Tina didn't want to exercise, did she want to study.
  5. The children saw lions tigers at the zoo.
  6. Tomorrow it might be cloudy, it might be sunny.
  7. It was cold outside, we stayed inside.
  8. They visited the museum went to a restaurant afterwards.


Questions? Find a mistake? Please leave a comment below.

- Created by Matthew Barton of (copyright)

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54 comments on “Using Coordinating Conjunctions (FANBOYS): Rules & Exercises

  1. Manal aljewari (Posted on 5-4-2020 at 19:39) Reply

    It’s easy but sometimes I confused

    1. Peta (Posted on 12-18-2021 at 22:09) Reply

      Please tell all answer

      1. Anonymous (Posted on 5-4-2023 at 13:53) Reply

        Good exercise

      2. Shimaa mohammed (Posted on 5-28-2024 at 15:05) Reply

        Good exercise

    2. Ledge (Posted on 5-23-2022 at 07:06) Reply

      Sometimes you ‘get’ confused. (get = ‘become’ in this context).
      I hope this helps.

  2. amiho2004 (Posted on 7-8-2020 at 11:02) Reply

    Thanks. The exercises are really excellent.

  3. Hank Wang (Posted on 7-21-2020 at 19:56) Reply

    What a wonderful exercise. Thanks.
    These exercises are very helpful for me but I still cannot understand them completely after I finished all of these. I need to do more practices.

    1. Shamps (Posted on 10-4-2020 at 20:01) Reply

      Wonderful exercise for conjunctions and joyful test.

  4. Julio S¡nchez (Posted on 9-14-2020 at 07:49) Reply

    Good day, how are you in this moment? I have to say I teach english in secondary, but even so I get confused with “but” vs “yet” and “for” vs “because”. It will drive me nuts.

  5. Visnja (Posted on 9-14-2020 at 17:51) Reply

    The difficulty is understanding the difference between ‘but’ and ‘yet’, and ‘for’ and ‘because’. The meaning is generally the same in each pair (but = yet, generally, and ,for = because); however, ‘yet’ and ‘for’ are much more formal, so they are more common and more useful in formal writing (essays/presentations/textbooks). ‘But’ and ‘because’ are used in both formal and informal situations, so they are far more useful. My advice is to understand ‘yet’ and ‘for’ as coordinating conjunctions when you read them, but learn and use ‘but’ and ‘because’ much more often.

    Textbooks are intended to present the undisputed truth, yet it is obvious that an author’s personal opinion may sometimes enter the content of any work.
    Online learning may be challenging for certain learners, for individual differences in learning styles may not be taken into account.

    and less formally:

    We should be able to trust a textbook, but an author may also insert an opinion ‘between the lines’.
    Online learning can be difficult for some students because ( or ,since) people learn in different ways.

    1. MB (Posted on 9-14-2020 at 18:37) Reply

      Great response, Visnja.

    2. David (Posted on 8-10-2021 at 07:02) Reply

      In my opinion, it is overly simplistic to say that ‘for’ = ‘because’ and ‘yet’ = ‘but’ . There is a subtlety to ‘for’ and ‘yet’ that has not been expressed here.
      For: Used to emphasize that the the first idea is an effect that can ordinarily be inferred from the second idea, the cause. In other words, it is similar to `because’ but special because the effect is to be expected given the cause.
      Yet: Basically the opposite of for. Used to show that the first idea CONTRASTS with what would ordinarily be inferred from the second idea. Similar to `but’ but special because the fact expressed is UNexpected given the second idea.
      I think these four examples illustrate this very well.

      She was tired, for she had not slept in days.
      She was angry because he arrived late. (`for’ is not suitable here, because a person would not necessarily be angry for this reason.)

      It was raining, yet we still had fun.
      I went to the store, but it was closed. (`yet’ is not suitable here)

      1. mb Post author (Posted on 8-18-2021 at 13:37) Reply

        You make some good points. I feel like the use of ‘for’ and ‘yet’ as conjunctions is quite rare, and therefore the subtleties of their uses (which you refer to) have become a bit lost. Thank you for taking the time to contribute.

  6. Dashon asberry (Posted on 10-6-2020 at 19:10) Reply

    This was a cool and fun exercise.

  7. Anonymous Bawaji (Posted on 12-14-2020 at 10:12) Reply

    Such a bad exercise.

    1. David (Posted on 5-23-2023 at 04:07) Reply

      You are terrible

  8. Wimal (Posted on 1-4-2021 at 21:11) Reply

    It’s very useful.

  9. Zach (Posted on 2-10-2021 at 15:32) Reply

    This was pretty easy, I guess correct grammar comes naturally to me.

  10. Akshaya (Posted on 2-25-2021 at 00:01) Reply


  11. Kllonez (Posted on 3-5-2021 at 07:37) Reply

    Easy but confusing

  12. Dhairya Sharma (Posted on 3-6-2021 at 08:28) Reply

    good but only 8 Q pls provide more Q

  13. Scarlett Morelli (Posted on 3-11-2021 at 04:29) Reply

    Easy and helpful exercises

  14. Thanchanok Khamtawee (Posted on 3-18-2021 at 11:26) Reply

    Easy for practice

  15. Obtuse (Posted on 4-11-2021 at 13:18) Reply

    Is it possible to not use a fanboys when combining two independent clauses?

    1. MB (Posted on 4-11-2021 at 13:33) Reply

      You can also join two independent clauses with punctuation such as a semi-colon (;), colon (:), and em-dash (–).

  16. Richard St. John (Posted on 4-29-2021 at 20:43) Reply

    “In academic and professional writing, FANBOYS are generally not used to start sentences.” But others, like Steven Pinker, assert it is perfectly fine to begin a sentence with one of these words. I do, sometimes even at the beginning of a new paragraph. Chill …

  17. Pichsokhapanha (Posted on 6-11-2021 at 01:14) Reply

    I can’t understand it well

  18. PHON SERY NETH (Posted on 6-13-2021 at 17:18) Reply

    It’s a little bit hard for me.

  19. Milanpreet kaur (Posted on 7-14-2021 at 04:44) Reply

    It was quite confusing

  20. Bunrong (Posted on 10-9-2021 at 01:02) Reply

    It hard to understand with NOR i just catch is a little.

  21. Harsha (Posted on 10-17-2021 at 21:05) Reply

    Nice excersise

    1. Ort (Posted on 12-18-2021 at 22:10) Reply

      Please tell all answer

  22. David (Posted on 1-3-2022 at 06:24) Reply

    are there any formal equivalents of FANBOYS?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 1-3-2022 at 14:23) Reply

      Hello. No, but in more formal writing, it’s less common to use compound sentences (two independent clauses combined with FANBOYS) and more common to start a sentence with a conjunctive adverb (e.g. starting a sentence with ‘However/Nevertheless’ instead of the word ‘but’ between two clauses).

  23. Anjali Revels (Posted on 2-25-2022 at 07:25) Reply

    This was hard.

  24. Michael M. (Posted on 10-4-2022 at 19:48) Reply

    This was a little difficult especially with “nor”.

  25. Hana hamada (Posted on 10-25-2022 at 11:34) Reply

    it was very fun to study more and understand will to get full mark

  26. Anonymous (Posted on 2-3-2023 at 11:31) Reply

    A very useful exercise with clear explanations and examples. Many thanks.

  27. Monsur Alom (Posted on 3-18-2023 at 04:43) Reply

    I am glad to see it. It’s not complete yet I am interested to learn more

  28. Anatolii (Posted on 3-29-2023 at 18:47) Reply

    Thank you for your useful work. This is a good explanation of how to use the “FANBOYS” conjunctions, but I need (want) to practice more exercises like this.

  29. David (Posted on 5-23-2023 at 04:07) Reply

    What are the rules and exceptions for commas before a coordinating conjunction, like “for,”

    1. MB (Posted on 5-24-2023 at 21:24) Reply

      Generally, you put a comma before the coordinating conjunction.

  30. Daisy X (Posted on 8-28-2023 at 08:28) Reply

    Useful exercise.

  31. PATRICIA (Posted on 9-21-2023 at 20:45) Reply

    Fantastic. I almost got addicted to these exercises. Thank you!

  32. JJ (Posted on 11-15-2023 at 12:38) Reply

    Can there be more fanboys

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 11-15-2023 at 20:16) Reply

      No, there are only seven.

  33. Ahmed (Posted on 11-24-2023 at 23:26) Reply

    How is because wrong

  34. SAISAHASRA (Posted on 12-11-2023 at 14:16) Reply

    I like this!!

  35. sophie (Posted on 1-17-2024 at 06:11) Reply

    this is really useful but I still get confuse sometimes using those conjuctions

  36. Elisa Molina (Posted on 2-22-2024 at 16:45) Reply

    excellent exercises, Thank you!

  37. Mona Rohman (Posted on 2-22-2024 at 18:48) Reply

    It’s a good exercise, I needed help and this helped me

  38. Tina Zayadiako (Posted on 2-22-2024 at 19:24) Reply

    Love it! great exercises

  39. Hellen Narvaez (Posted on 2-22-2024 at 21:37) Reply

    thank you

  40. zena (Posted on 4-16-2024 at 19:01) Reply

    its good exercise,

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