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Co-ordinating and Subordinating conjunctions: Making a Distinction

In this worksheet, students practise identifying co-ordinating and subordinating conjunctions in sentences.

'Co-ordinating and Subordinating conjunctions: Making a Distinction' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:   Grammar and Vocabulary

Curriculum subtopic:   Extend and Apply Grammatical Knowledge

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

A conjunction is a word that links two clauses in a sentence.

Peter likes football but Josh likes rugby.

I stayed indoors because it was raining.

 

Some conjunctions are called co-ordinating conjunctions. They link clauses in compound sentences, where both clauses are equally important and one clause does not depend on the other. Co-ordinating conjunctions include and, or and but.

I love swimming and I love diving.

I may go outside but I may stay indoors.

 

Conjunctions that are used in complex sentences are called subordinating conjunctions. (A complex sentence is a sentence with a main clause and a subordinate clause.)

Subordinating conjunctions come at the beginning of the subordinate clause and include words such as because, although, unless and whenever.

We went to the beach although it was raining.

Joe was tired because he stayed up late last night.

Whenever it snows, we go outside and build a snowman.

 

In this worksheet you can practise identifying co-ordinating and subordinating clauses in sentences.

Which type of conjunction is the underlined word in the following sentence?

 

Katie loves ballet but Sarah prefers tap dancing.

Co-ordinating conjunction

Subordinating conjunction

Which type of conjunction is the underlined word in the following sentence?

 

Carly cries whenever she watches a sad film.

Co-ordinating conjunction

Subordinating conjunction

Which type of conjunction is the underlined word in the following sentence?

 

Although she is very small, Petra is good at high jump.

Co-ordinating conjunction

Subordinating conjunction

Which type of conjunction is the underlined word in the following sentence?

 

You can go out to play when you have finished your work.

Co-ordinating conjunction

Subordinating conjunction

Which type of conjunction is the underlined word in the following sentence?

 

Iona might go to Disneyworld this summer or she might go on a cruise.

Co-ordinating conjunction

Subordinating conjunction

Which type of conjunction is the underlined word in the following sentence?

 

Michael sometimes forgets to clean his teeth before he goes to bed.

Co-ordinating conjunction

Subordinating conjunction

A coordinating conjunction always comes between the clauses it is joining together.

Jayden likes tea but Billy prefers coffee.

(Not: But Billy prefers coffee Jayden likes tea.)

 

However, a subordinating conjunction can also come at the start of the sentence.

Neela stayed in bed because she felt poorly.

Because she felt poorly, Neela stayed in bed.

A comma is used to separate the clauses when the sentence begins with a conjunction.

 

Can you apply this to the sentence below?  Which one do you think is correct?

Jake stayed at home because he had a cold.

Because he had a cold, Jake stayed at home.

Because he had a cold Jake stayed at home.

Write out the following sentence again, beginning with the subordinating conjunction. (Make sure that you don't alter the meaning of the sentence!)

 

You can go out this evening provided you do your homework.

Write out the following sentence again, beginning with the subordinating conjunction. (Make sure that you don't alter the meaning of the sentence!)

 

Richard had to move house because his dad had a new job in Leeds.

Write out the following sentence again, beginning with the subordinating conjunction. (Make sure that you don't alter the meaning of the sentence!)

 

The dentist gave Mia an injection before she had her filling.

  • Question 1

Which type of conjunction is the underlined word in the following sentence?

 

Katie loves ballet but Sarah prefers tap dancing.

CORRECT ANSWER
Co-ordinating conjunction
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do here? We know that the word 'but' is a conjunction but is it co-ordinating or subordinating? It's a co-ordinating conjunction as both clauses are separate from one another. The biggest clue here is the word 'but', if you go back to the introduction you will see it was in the co-ordinating conjunction list! Let's try another.
  • Question 2

Which type of conjunction is the underlined word in the following sentence?

 

Carly cries whenever she watches a sad film.

CORRECT ANSWER
Subordinating conjunction
EDDIE SAYS
This is an example of a subordinating conjunction. Subordinating conjunctions are the conjunctions used in complex sentences where there is one main clause and one subordinate clause. The first part of the sentence is the main clause 'Carly cries' as this includes the subject and the object. The second clause 'watches a sad film' is reliant on the main clause to make sense and so is the subordinate clause. This means 'whenever' must be a subordinate clause as it is used to join the main clause to a subordinate clause.
  • Question 3

Which type of conjunction is the underlined word in the following sentence?

 

Although she is very small, Petra is good at high jump.

CORRECT ANSWER
Subordinating conjunction
EDDIE SAYS
Now, this sentence looks a bit different to our last but can you see that 'although' is another subordinating conjunction? The part that follows 'although' which is 'she is very small' is our subordinate clause. The main clause is, 'Petra is good at high jump' and we know this because this is the clause that contains the subject, Petra. The description of Petra as 'very small' is dependent on the main clause to make sense as a sentence, so we have another subordinating conjunction on our hands with the word 'although'.
  • Question 4

Which type of conjunction is the underlined word in the following sentence?

 

You can go out to play when you have finished your work.

CORRECT ANSWER
Subordinating conjunction
EDDIE SAYS
Did this one catch you out? If you look carefully there is a main clause and a subordinating clause in this instruction. 'You can go out to play' is where our subject and verb can be found, which makes this the main clause. Therefore, the second clause (the subordinate clause) is dependent on the main clause and must be joined by a subordinating conjunction. Is this getting easier?
  • Question 5

Which type of conjunction is the underlined word in the following sentence?

 

Iona might go to Disneyworld this summer or she might go on a cruise.

CORRECT ANSWER
Co-ordinating conjunction
EDDIE SAYS
Did you get this right? If you can remember the clue words from the introduction you should be able to spot that this is a co-ordinating conjunction. This means that it is joining two clauses together that are both equally important and do not rely upon one another. Iona may go to Disneyland, or she may go on a cruise, they both sound like good options to us!
  • Question 6

Which type of conjunction is the underlined word in the following sentence?

 

Michael sometimes forgets to clean his teeth before he goes to bed.

CORRECT ANSWER
Subordinating conjunction
EDDIE SAYS
Are you getting the hang of this now? We've got another complex sentence here, which means we must have a main clause and a subordinate clause. Can you see that 'he goes to bed' is reliant on the main clause 'Michaels sometimes forgets to brush his teeth' to make sense? We know this is the main clause as it has the main verb and the subject within it. When we have a complex sentence we must have a subordinating conjunction joining the two clauses together.
  • Question 7

A coordinating conjunction always comes between the clauses it is joining together.

Jayden likes tea but Billy prefers coffee.

(Not: But Billy prefers coffee Jayden likes tea.)

 

However, a subordinating conjunction can also come at the start of the sentence.

Neela stayed in bed because she felt poorly.

Because she felt poorly, Neela stayed in bed.

A comma is used to separate the clauses when the sentence begins with a conjunction.

 

Can you apply this to the sentence below?  Which one do you think is correct?

Jake stayed at home because he had a cold.

CORRECT ANSWER
Because he had a cold, Jake stayed at home.
EDDIE SAYS
These sentences look identical don't they? If we look carefully we can see that the first option has a comma after the word 'cold'. Did you remember that we need to use a comma to separate the two clauses when we lead with a conjunction? These small punctuation marks are really important, let's learn these rules as we go!
  • Question 8

Write out the following sentence again, beginning with the subordinating conjunction. (Make sure that you don't alter the meaning of the sentence!)

 

You can go out this evening provided you do your homework.

CORRECT ANSWER
Provided you do your homework, you can go out this evening.
Provided you do your homework, you can go out this evening
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? First, we need to spot the subordinating conjunction. In this case, it is the word 'provided'. Once we have moved 'provided' to the start of our sentence we swap the clauses over. We begin with the subordinate clause first, 'you do your homework' and then we must insert a comma, before writing the main clause after 'you can go out this evening'. To make this absolutely correct we must remember a full stop at the end of the sentence.
  • Question 9

Write out the following sentence again, beginning with the subordinating conjunction. (Make sure that you don't alter the meaning of the sentence!)

 

Richard had to move house because his dad had a new job in Leeds.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? Did you spot the subordinating clause again? Hopefully, you also remembered to input the comma to show that there are two clauses here. Can you see that the main clause has moved to the end of the sentence and the subordinating clause follows the subordinating conjunction? One last question to try this out on!
  • Question 10

Write out the following sentence again, beginning with the subordinating conjunction. (Make sure that you don't alter the meaning of the sentence!)

 

The dentist gave Mia an injection before she had her filling.

CORRECT ANSWER
Before she had her filling, the dentist gave Mia an injection.
Before she had her filling, the dentist gave Mia an injection
EDDIE SAYS
Well done! Last question complete, how are you feeling? Hopefully, you're feeling really confident now with identifying different types of conjunctions (co-ordinating and subordinating) and the different clauses within a complex sentence (main clause and subordinating clause). If not, why not try out some more activities to test your understanding further? Good luck!
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