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A conjunctive adverb, adverbial conjunction, or subordinating adverb is an adverb that connects two clauses by converting the clause it introduces into an adverbial modifier.
Like any adverb, a conjunctive adverb modifies either the verb, an adjective, or another adverb in the main clause. A conjunctive adverb is distinct from a standard adverb used as an adverbial connective (also known as a logical transition) which is often used within a second clause to show its logical relationship to the first. (See below.)
Examples of conjunctive adverbs (or adverbial conjunctions):
Bob loved Mary with all his heart; however, he knew he could not be with her.
I cleaned my room; then I went to the store.
I cleaned my room, and then I went to the store.
Note: Conjunctive adverbs cannot be written as conjunctions in place of and or but. A lot of people believe a sentence like below is correct. However, they are wrong.
I cleaned my room, then I went to the store.
Conjunctive adverbs show the when, where, why, or how of a verb, adjective, or adverb.
Some conjunctive adverbs are also used as coordinating conjunctions, that it not adverbially but to coordinate two independent clauses; they are for, whereas, nor, yet, so.
Since a conjunctive adverb is an adverb and therefore modifies a verb, adjective, or adverb, it invariable modifies a previously expressed logical predication.
Meaning: In American and British English, specific conjunctive adverbs are used to signal and signify cause (because), effect (so), purpose or reason (so that) sequence (then, since), exception (though and although), contrast (yet), comparison (whereas), option (whether), and choice (if ).
There is a tremendous lack of clarity among Americans about the grammatical terms needed to teach writing competently. Over the past century, many inconsistent and nonsensical definitions of the term conjunctive adverbs and adverbial conjunctions have arisen. In general, what are often called "conjunctive adverbs" are not con-junctive at all. Instead, they are logical connectives or transitions that position one clause adjectivally or adverbially (in a dative, ablative, locative, instrumental relationship to the first clause).
Part of the confusion has come to us through errors, inconsistencies, and oversimplifications in grammar textbooks hastily published in nineteenth and twentieth century America, especially the intellectual chaos that proliferated from Americans' lack of exactitude in applying Latin and French grammars for professional or political advantage, the rise of a specialized linguistic study of American usage purposed for academic study not for enhancement of specificity or clarity in American rhetoric. As a result, transmission of incomplete grammatical understanding within American colleges has created increasingly obtuse academic prose and deceptive public usage during the past fifty years. Hence, the peculiar practice of calling a word like consequently a "conjunction."
In American English, the words and, but, and or are not conjunctive adverbs, but they are used as coordinating conjunctions (to join two words, phrases, or internal or independent clauses). Some speakers and writers of colloquial American English, do sometimes use and, but, and or as adverbial logical transitions. See "Transitions (linguistics)", or search online lists of adverbial connectives or logical transitions.
Some Common English Conjunctive Adverbs
then (by ellipsis)
on the other hand
be that as it may
contrary to that
- A conjunctive adverb introducing a clause to modify or describe another word, phrase, or clause requires no preceding punctuation.
- Conjunctive adverbs tell when, where, how, why, or in reference to whom a verb (action of a noun) occurs, an adjective (description of a noun) exists, or adverb (description of a verb) occurs.
- Please see adverbial connectives or "Transitions (linguistic)" for disambiguation. (See link above.)
Like other adverbs, conjunctive adverbs can be placed in one of three places:
- Inverted sentence order: At the beginning of a dependent (adverbial) clause followed by a comma.
- Natural sentence order: After the word, phrase, or clause it modifies.
- Non-restrictive: set off with commas: I plan to help you, if you are willing.
- "Tips and Tricks – Conjunctive Adverbs". Retrieved July 22, 2015.