Reading & Writing Across Curriculum

Coordination and Subordination

Coordination and subordination are used to combine sentences. Coordination means combining two sentences or ideas that are of equal value. Subordination means combining two sentences or ideas in a way that makes one more important than the other. Using these strategies will help add variety to your sentences.


Use coordination to join to ideas together that are equal in value. You can coordinate using coordinating conjunctions or conjunctive adverbs.

Coordinating Conjunctions

Here are some examples of coordinating conjunctions, or coordinators. Find out more about conjunctions. You many find it helpful to remember the acronym FANBOYS.

For And Nor But Or Yet So


Below are examples of how to join two sentences with a coordinator :

without coordinator Cycling class is a tough workout. I still attend three times a week.
with coordinator Cycling class is a tough workout, but I still attend three times a week.
without coordinator Erin enjoys pilates class. She is very strong.
with coordinator Erin enjoys Pilates class, so she is very strong.


Each coordinating conjunction shows a different connection between sentences. Use the definitions and examples below to help you understand how each coordinating conjunction is used in a sentence.

For (effect/cause) ex. Jasmine is afraid of dogs, for she was bitten by a dog when she was young.

And (addition) ex. Maria loves dogs, so she went to the pound to adopt one.

Nor (addition of negatives) ex. Mary doesn’t want to go to college, nor does she want to find a job.

But (contrast) ex. Abdul likes to read, but he prefers to watch television.

Or (alternative) ex. Jose thinks he wants to study math, or he might be interested in fire fighting.

Yet (contrast) ex. Justin really likes to run in the morning, yet he hates getting up early.

So (cause/effect)  ex. Maria loves dogs, so she went to the pound to adopt one.


Conjunctive Adverb

You can also use conjunctive adverbs as coordinators. This term refers to an adverb that acts like a conjunction. Find out more about adverbs. Find out more about conjunctions. Conjunctive adverbs give more description about the relationship between the two sentences.

Here are some examples. Pay special attention to the puncuation. If you are joining two sentences with a conjunctive adverb, you need to have a semi-colon before the word and a comma after it.

;however, ;besides, ;in fact, ;therefore,


The following sentences use conjunctive adverbs to connect two ideas:

Cycling class is a tough workout; however, I still attend three times a week.
Erin enjoys pilates class; therefore, she is very strong.



Use subordination to join two sentences together when one idea is less important (subordinate) to the other.

Subordinators/Subordinating Conjunctions

To subordinate one sentence to another, use a subordinating conjunction, or subordinator. Find out more about conjunctions. The following words are examples of subordinators.

although since when while because


Make sure to puncuate the sentences correctly. If you begin a sentence with a subordinator, you must put a comma after the subordinating phrase. However, if the subordinator comes in the middle of a sentence you usually do not need to put a comma before it

without subordinator Work can be demanding. I really enjoy it.
sentence opens with subordinator (use a comma) Although work can be demanding, I really enjoy it.
without subordinator Kate loves teaching. It is an extremely rewarding profession.
subordinator comes in middle of sentence (don't use a comma) Kate loves teaching because it is an extremely rewarding profession.


Occasionally you will use a comma before a subordinator when you are showing a direct contrast in ideas.

subordinator showing contrast of ideas (use a comma) The teacher said we would be taking a test, although it wasn't on the syllabus.


This page was created by Meghan Swanson and Karin Spirn.

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Page last modified: April 25, 2017