Difference Between Coordinating and Subordinating Conjunctions

Main Difference – Coordinating vs. Subordinating Conjunctions

The main difference between Coordinating and Subordinating Conjunctions is that coordinating conjunctions are words that are used to link two independent clauses while subordinating clauses are words that link a dependent clause to an independent clause.

What are Coordinating Conjunctions

A Coordinating Conjunction is a word that links two words or clauses. Coordinating conjunctions are mainly used in combining two independent clauses to make compound sentences. There are only seven coordinating conjunctions in the English Language. They are For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet and So. Look at the examples below to see how coordinating conjunctions are used to build compound sentences.

Jane likes John,but John likes Joanne.                    →                  [Jane likes John] +BUT + [John likes Joanne.]

I wanted to go to Japan, so I learned Japanese.      →              [I wanted to go to Japan] + SO + [I learned Japanese]

She was singing, and he was playing the piano.        →            [She was singing] + AND + [he was playing the piano]  

You must study hard, or you will fail the exam.      →                [You must study hard] + OR + [you will fail the exam]

I went to bed early for I had a tiring day.               →                 [ I went to bed early] + FOR + [I had a tiring day]

When two independent clauses are combined to make a compound sentence, a comma is generally placed before the conjunction. However, if the independent clauses are short and well balanced, a comma is not necessary.

What are Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions are the words that link an independent clause and a dependent clause. Subordinating conjunctions have two functions. It provides a smooth transition between ideas in a sentence. This transition indicates a relationship with time, place, cause, result, etc. Subordinating conjunctions also indicate the extent of importance, so that the reader can understand the most important clause in the sentence.

She fainted because she didn’t have any breakfast.

Even though he has only published two books, he is considered as one of the greatest writers of our time.

He refused to repeat the exam because he felt that it would be a waste of time.

Jake’s dog starts barking frantically whenever I visit Jake.

As he told me earlier, the exam has been postponed.

Examine the use of commas in the above sentences carefully. You will note that commas have been used in only some sentences.  This difference is caused by the location of the subordinating conjunction. If you are using the dependent clause at the beginning of the sentence, then you have to use a comma at the end of the dependent clause. If you are using the dependent clause after the independent clause, a comma is not used.

after how when
although since whenever
as  so that  where
because supposing whereas
before  than wherever
but that that  whether
if though which
in order that  till  while
lest unless  who
no matter  what  why

Difference Between Coordinating and Subordinating Conjunctions


Coordinating Conjunctions are used to join two independent clauses together.

Subordinating conjunctions are used to join a dependent clause to an independent clause.

Formation of Sentences:

Coordinating Conjunctions help to form compound sentences.

Subordinating conjunctions help to form complex sentences.


There are only seven Coordinating Conjunctions in the English language.

There are many Subordinating conjunctions.

difference between coordinating and subordinating conjunctions

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