In this post, we learn subordinating conjunctions in English, different types of subordinating conjunctions, and how to use them in sentences.
What are subordinating conjunctions in English?
Subordinating conjunction definition: Subordinating conjunctions join an independent clause to a dependent clause, also known as a subordinate clause. A subordinating conjunction comes in the beginning of a dependent clause and links it to an independent clause. It shows the relation between the dependent and independent clauses in terms of time, place, reason, condition, manner, and concession.
What is a dependent clause in English?
A dependent clause is a group of words that has a subject-verb combination but does not give a complete meaning on its own; it depends on the main clause (independent clause). It adds extra or nonessential information to the meaning of the main clause. It either modifies the main verb of the main clause, working as an adverb clause, or modifies a noun or pronoun in the main clause, working as an adjective clause, or works as a noun (noun clause).
Subordinating conjunctions list
as soon as
as much as
in order that
Examples of subordinating conjunctions
- I’ll call you after I come back from the office.
- The company will not release me before I serve the notice period.
- Jacob left the job since he was not getting treated well.
- I teach English because I love it.
- If you work hard with passion and determination, you can achieve anything in life.
- She is roaming on the streets as if the virus will not catch her.
- We will have to wait here until the train arrives.
- You won’t be able to overcome your shortcomings unless you start working on them.
- I’ll start coming live on YouTube as soon as I have 500k subscribers.
- The party will be over by the time you come back.
- My friends are having fun in Goa while I’m doing dishes here.
- Do the right things whether people like them or not.
- Every time Maria eats chicken, she gets ill.
Types of subordinating conjunctions
Subordinating conjunctions of time
Subordinating conjunctions of time connect the main clause to subordinate clause and show a time relation. The subordinate clause tells the time of the action in the main clause, and the subordinating conjunction establishes the time relation, sitting in the beginning of the subordinate clause.
Here are the most common subordinating conjunctions of time: after, before, as soon as, while, until/till, when, whenever, since, by the time
- I will start working on the application as soon as I find investors.
(‘As soon as’ is the subordinating conjunction that’s coming in the beginning of the subordinate clause “as soon as I find investors” and establishing a time relation between the main clause and the subordinate clause. The subordinate clause is modifying the main verb of the main clause, telling us the time of the action. It tells us when I start working on the application: as soon as I find investors.)
- We will have dinner together after the meeting ends.
- We will throw her a party before she leaves the organization.
- While my parents were outside, partying, I was recording a video.
- He will keep being a yes man until/till he does not get promoted to the team leader.
- Your friends were laughing when you fell off the bike.
- I lose something whenever I am on a train.
- We haven’t been talking to one another since we had a small fight at Jon’s birthday party.
- The food will be finished by the time he comes back home.
NOTE: subordinate clauses starting with the subordinating conjunctions of time are called adverb clauses of time as they function adverbially.
Subordinating conjunctions of place
Subordinating conjunctions of place connect the main clause to the subordinate clause and show a place relation. They talk about the place of the action (main verb) in the main clause: where the action happens.
Here are the subordinating conjunctions of place: where, everywhere, wherever
- Monica is hiding where his dog Barky lives.
(The subordinate clause “where his dog Barky lives” is modifying the verb “hiding,” telling us where Monica is hiding: she is hiding where his dog Barky lives. Also note that the subordinating conjunction ‘where‘ is establishing this time relation between the main clause and the subordinate clause.)
- You can rest wherever you want. Feel like home.
- I will park my car wherever I want.
- She follow me everywhere I go.
NOTE: subordinate clauses starting with the subordinating conjunctions of place are called adverb clauses of place as they function adverbially and modify the main verb of the main clause in terms of place.
Subordinating conjunctions of reason (cause & effect)
Subordinating conjunctions of reason connect the main clause to subordinate clause and show a cause and effect relation. They tell us the reason or the result of the main verb in the main clause: why an action happens or what the result of an action is.
Subordinating conjunctions of reason: because, as, since, in order that, now that, so that
- He didn’t join us last night because he was feeling sick.
(The subordinate clause “because he was feeling sick” is telling us the reason why the main action didn’t happen: why he didn’t join us last night. The subordinating conjunction ‘because’ is establishing this relation between the main clause and the subordinate clause.)
- Sam was mistreating some of the guests as he was drunk.
- Since the students had been bullying him, he left the school.
- They took him to a gurukul in order that he becomes a good human being and learn the basic things.
- Now that the exams are over, let’s go somewhere and party.
NOTE: subordinate clauses starting with the subordinating conjunctions of reason are called adverb clauses of reason.
Notice that the subordinate clauses, in above sentences, are telling us the reason why the action in the main clause happened. The subordinating conjunction is establishing that cause relation between the main clause and the subordinate clause.
- All of us gave him some money so that he can afford college.
(The subordinate clause “so that he can afford college” is modifying the main verb ‘gave’ and telling us the result of it.)
Subordinating conjunctions of condition
Subordinating conjunctions of condition indicate the condition of the happening of the main clause.
Subordinating conjunctions of condition: if, only if, unless, provided, provided that, assuming
- My father has promised to get me my favorite bike if I secure the first rank in the competition.
- He will talk to you only if you are funny.
- Max is not going back home unless he gets a job in hand.
- We can join the program provided we are from a commerce background.
- They will let you teach the students provided you have some teaching experience.
- Provided that there’s extra food in the fridge, you can invite some of your friends for dinner.
- I will let you drive provided that you have a license.
- Assuming (that) he is coming, we should be 10 in total.
Provided, Provided that and Assuming have the same meaning: if, or only if.
NOTE: subordinate clauses starting with the subordinating conjunctions of condition are called adverb clauses of condition.
Subordinating conjunctions of concession
The subordinate clauses starting with the subordinating conjunctions of concession focus on the fact that something, in the main clause, happens in spite of something else, which should stop it but does not.
Subordinating conjunctions of concession: though, although, even though
- Though Jon is loaded, he still lives in a small house.
(The subordinate clause “Though Jon is loaded” works as a surprising piece of information. If you are loaded (very rich), you are not supposed to live in a small house. But it is happening here. The subordinating conjunction ‘though’ establishes this relation between the main clause and the subordinate clause.)
- The teacher threw me out of the class though I didn’t do anything.
- Ashish is helping Ronak to pass his English test although he doesn’t like him.
- Even though we played well, we lost the match.
- Even though I apologized for the mistake I didn’t make, she didn’t forgive me.
The subordinate clauses here are modifying the main verbs in the main clause. Note that there is not any difference between though, although, and even though. Although and even though put more stress though.
NOTE: subordinate clauses starting with the subordinating conjunctions of concession (though, although, although) are called adverb clauses of concession.
Subordinating conjunctions of manner
Subordinate clauses of manner modify the main verb of the main clause and tell us in what manner they take place.
Subordinating conjunctions of manner: as, as if, as though, like
- They treat me as if they own me.
(The subordinate clause ‘as if they own me‘ telling us in what manner they treat me.)
- You are acting as if you have seen a ghost.
- Alicia is talking to me like she doesn’t know me.
- Live everyday like it is your last day on the planet.
- They reacted as though they had not been informed about their results.
- The investment is playing out as I though it would.
Note that when we use the subordinating conjunction ‘than‘ in a subordinate clause, we generally don’t use anything after its subject as it’s understood.
- He has more money than I.
- He has more money than I do.
- Nobody loved her more than I.
- Nobody loves her more than I did.
- She is not as calm as you.
- She is not as calm as you are.
NOTE: subordinate clauses starting with the subordinating conjunctions of manner are called adverb clauses of manner.
Subordinating conjunctions of comparison
Subordinating conjunctions of comparison join a subordinate clause to a main clause and compares the main clause with the subordinate clause.
Subordinating conjunctions of manner: than, as…as
- I am not as smart as you think I am.
- The match was not as good as we expected it to be.
- Nobody knows her better than I (do).
Subordinating conjunctions and commas
Can we use a comma with subordinating conjunctions? 😉
The answer to this question is not that simple. It depends on the placement of the subordinate clause.
Always use a comma right after the subordinate clause if it’s coming before the main clause.
- Before I joined this program, I was terrible at public speaking.
- If you can control your mind, you can win any situation.
- Though he is my brother, I won’t let him trouble innocent people.
Don’t use a comma if the subordinate clause is coming after the main clause.
- I was terrible at public speaking before I joined this program.
- You can win any situation if you can control your mind.
- I won’t let him trouble innocent people though he is my brother.
Subordinating conjunctions vs Relative pronouns (who, which, that)
The relative pronouns function like subordinating conjunctions, but they are different from them.
You must have have noticed that subordinating conjunctions connect a dependent clause with an independent clause showing a type of a relation, but they never function as the subject of the dependent clause, nor do they refer to the object of the independent clause.
Study the following examples:
- The teacher threw me out of the class though I didn’t do anything.
- We will have dinner together after the meeting ends.
Notice that in both the above examples, the subordinating conjunctions (though, after) are not working as the subject of the dependent clause, nor are they referring to the object of the independent clause.
Now, study the following examples of relative pronouns:
- I don’t know anyone who can help you. (working as the subject of the dependent clause)
- He lives in Agra, which is famous for the Taj Mahal. (working as the subject of the dependent clause)
- We have a dog that looks better than you. (working as the subject of the dependent clause)
Notice in the above three examples, the relative pronouns (who, which, that) are working as the subject of the dependent clause.
Now study the following examples of relative pronouns referring to the object of the dependent clause:
- We don’t know the man whom you are talking about. (Referring to the object ‘man’)
- Jacob is training the girl whose father is your English teacher. (Referring to the object ‘girl’)
- We know a man who can help you.
- Do you know the person whom Jon is standing next to?
- Max lives in Goa, which has amazing beaches.
- I haven’t seen any person whose parents don’t control them.
- You need a job that matches with your skills.
- Do you remember the time when we used to play here?
- Rahul peed on the spot where you eat.
- Nobody knows the reason why he left this company.
Notice that the relative pronouns here are connecting the dependent clauses with the independent clause and identifying the object in the independent clause.
I am sure now you guys are prepared to handle subordinating conjunctions and the probable queries that may come in your way. Feel free to correct any typing mistakes you come across. Contact me at [email protected] for one-on-one classes.