What is a Conjunctive Adverb?

Conjunctive adverbs are a type of connecting words that are similar to words such as because or after. They have two main differences, however. First, adding a conjunctive adverb does not turn a sentence into a sentence fragment.

You must do your homework because you will get a bad grade if you don’t.

Here because is a connecting word. If I try to make it a separate sentence, I create a sentence fragment:

You must do your homework. Because you will get a bad grade if you don’t.

Do you see how that creates a sentence fragment? Notice what happens if you add a conjunctive adverb:

You must do your homework; otherwise, you will get a bad grade if you don’t.

I can turn that into two sentences without creating a fragment:

You must do your homework. Otherwise, you will get a bad grade if you don’t.

What I like about these type of words is how flexible they are. Look what we can do by moving the conjunctive adverb otherwise around.

You will, otherwise, get a bad grade.

You, otherwise, will get a bad grade.

You will get a bad grade otherwise.

The Second Difference Between Conjunctive Adverbs and Subordinators

The second difference about conjunctive adverbs is that I can move them around in a sentence. This lets me change the rhythm of a sentence or change what I emphasize, which is helpful because sometimes a writer wants to create a pause, but the “rule” about put a comma where you pause, is not a rule at all. (Notice that if you use the conjunctive adverb as a connector, you have to use a semi-colon; otherwise, you usually put commas around it.)

The ability to move a conjunctive adverb in the sentence is also how you know you are using one. Take a look at the following sentence:

You will, because, get a bad grade sounded like a sentence never.

The only place in that sentence for because is at the beginning.

Let us know if you have other examples of conjunctive adverbs in action, or take the Grammar Nerd Quiz to see your Grammar Nerd score.

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