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Lesson 5 – Coordinating Conjunctions


Language Arts  


9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Writing and Grammar Unit – Lesson 5
By – John Foley
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Grade Level – 9-12

Unit Contents: Introduction
Lesson 1:   Writing by Ear
Lesson 2:   Nouns
Lesson 3:   Active and Passive Verbs
Lesson 4:   Modify in Moderation
Lesson 5:   Coordinating Conjunctions


Lesson 6:   Simple Sentences
Lesson 7:   Compound and Complex Sentences
Lesson 8:   Periods and Commas
Lesson 9:   Logic and Questions
Lesson 10: Interjections and Exclamation Points
Study Guide
Writing and Grammar Test

Lesson 5: Coordinating Conjunctions

      Coordinating conjunctions connect individual words or groups of words.




      are the most common coordinating conjunctions; the others are










      . While most often used within sentences, coordinating conjunctions can also provide fluid transitions at the outset. Consider the following excerpt from a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer:

And there I sat, in my big, black, fat-cat car, with air-conditioning blasting, stereo playing and enough electronic doodads to do everything but blow my nose.

I had enough money in my pocket to buy that skinny kid a suit, pay his family’s rent for a month and maybe fill up their refrigerator and pantry.

But I hadn’t had the decency to let him squeegee the windshield, then touch the button that lowers a window and give him a buck and a smile. I had given him a scowl and a wave-off, gestures that said he was nothing.

And all the while, do you know what was playing on my stereo cassette? Peter, Paul and Mary singing that if they had a hammer, they’d hammer out love between their bothers and their sisters, all over the world – that’s what was playing.

–Mike Royko
      Some English teachers have preached against using coordinating conjunctions as openers. I would challenge you to find a novel in the library or bookstore that does NOT have dozens of sentences beginning with these words. And if our novelists – our finest writers – use coordinating conjunctions to begin sentences, why can’t students? Still, be aware that some teachers will mark you down for opening with coordinating conjunctions, particularly in formal research papers.
      Reflect on this controversy. Have you been taught to avoid




    , etc. at the beginning of sentences? Why? Do you feel comfortable using these words as openers?

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