Conjunctions 2

Subordinating conjunctions

 Subordinating Conjunctions  

What are subordinating conjunctions? 

 subordinating conjunction, also called a subordinator, joins a dependent / subordinate clause to a main verb. They are used to show any relationship between them and they turn the clause into something that is dependant on the rest of the sentence for its meaning.


・We left the party when the police arrived.
・He goes home because he is ill.
・Ram went swimming although it was raining.


"After", "before", "since" ― are also prepositions, but as subordinators they are being used to introduce a clause and to subordinate the following clause to the independent element in the sentence.

Common Subordinating Conjunctions 

A subordinating conjunction joins a subordinate (dependent) clause to a main (independent) clause:


Ram went swimming although it was raining.

"Ram went swimming"  = independent clause

although  = subordinating conjunction

"it was raining."  = dependent clause

 A subordinating conjunction always comes at the beginning of a subordinate clause. It "introduces" a subordinate clauseHowever, a subordinate clause can sometimes come after and sometimes before a main clause. Thus, two structures are possible:


・Ram went swimming although it was raining.

Although it was raining, Ram went swimming.

Important subordinating conjunctions

Omitting That

  The word "that" is used as a conjunction to connect a subordinate clause to a preceding verb. In this construction that is sometimes called the "expletive that.

 " Indeed, the word is often omitted to good effect, but the very fact of easy omission causes some editors to take out the red pen and strike out the conjunction that wherever it appears. In the following sentences, we can happily omit the that (or keep it, depending on how the sentence sounds to us):


・Isabel knew [that] she was about to be fired.

・She definitely felt [that] her fellow employees hadn't supported her.

・I hope [that] she doesn't blame me.

Sometimes omitting the that creates a break in the flow of a sentence, a break that can be adequately bridged with the use of a comma:


・The problem isthat production in her department has dropped.

・Rememberthat we didn't have these problems before she started working here.

  As a general rule, if the sentence feels just as good without the that, if no ambiguity results from its omission, if the sentence is more efficient or elegant without it, then we can safely omit the that. Theodore Bernstein lists three conditions in which we should maintain the conjunction that:

1. When a time element intervenes between the verb and the clause: 

・The boss said yesterday that production in this department was down fifty percent.
(Notice the position of "yesterday.")

2. When the verb of the clause is long delayed:

・Our annual report revealed that some losses sustained by this department in the third quarter of last year were worse than previously thought.
(Notice the distance between the subject "losses" and its verb, "were.")

3. When a second that can clear up who said or did what: 

・The CEO said that Isabel's department was slacking off and that production dropped precipitously in the fourth quarter.
(Did the CEO say that production dropped or was the drop a result of what he said about Isabel's department? The second that makes the sentence clear.)