Subordinating conjunctions

(Using subordinating conjunctions in English)

Table of contents – subordinating conjunctions

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Use of subordinating conjunctions
  2. List of subordinating conjunctions
  3. Further explanations and exercises

When are subordinating conjunctions used in English?

Subordinating conjunctions or connectives are (in addition to the coordinating ones) a further classification. The subordinators contain considerably more words and are needed to introduce dependent clauses (and then especially adverbial clauses). Very often, these conjunctions consist of more than one word. The table below lists the most commonly used ones in English.

Example sentences

Compare these examples to illustrate main and subordinate clauses (adverbial clauses):

Main clause Subordinate clause (here an adverbial) with conjunction
“They had already left, because we arrived late.”
“We needed a long time to finish although the task seemed to be easy.”

Note: Some of the connecting words in the following list may also be prepositions in other uses. This change of function applies to ‘since, after, before,’ for example.

List of most commonly used subordinate conjunctions

English modal, causal and temporal conjunctions including examples
English subordinating conjunction Example sentence
after “She called me after the visitors had left.”
although “I would like to buy a new car, although I don’t have enough money.”
as if
as long as
as soon as
as though
“We have dinner at seven o’clock as we always do.”
because “We decided to stay at home, because it was raining.”
before “Don’t watch the movie before you read the book.”
even if
even though
“Even if you buy her some roses, she will still be angry.”
every time “I still have to laugh every time I watch that movie.”
except that
“Your solution sounds good except that it would take too long.”
if only
“We would really like to fly to Australia, if only the plane tickets weren’t so expensive.”
in order that “Appointments are made in order that all participants can be present.”
otherwise “You have to tell the boss, otherwise you may get fired.”
since “I’ve only seen five bears since I moved to Canada.”
so that
“Paula has two jobs so that she can afford a world trip.”
than “My brother is a bit taller than I am.”
though “Though the show was very long, it was interesting.”
unless “I don’t want to go there unless you come with me.”
until, till “The dog has to stay in the house until we come back.”
when “Can you give Xavier the DVD when you see him?”
whenever “Just ask me whenever you have a problem with your computer.”
whereas “My British uncle likes tea, whereas his wife drinks a lot of coffee.”
wherever “Thanks to modern airplanes people can fly wherever they want to fly.”
while “Gary visited me twice while I was living in France.”

Further explanations related to the ‘Subordinating conjunctions’

The following explanations are related to the topic ‘Using subordinating connectives/conjunctions in English’ and might also be helpful: