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Author Topic: Choosing the right connectives for our ideas - 2  (Read 349 times)
Joe Carillo
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« on: June 01, 2017, 08:32:19 AM »

This continues our survey of the alternatives for establishing the relationship between ideas stated in different clauses. Two things to firmly keep in mind when we do so: (1) coordinating conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs function in much the same way in connecting independent, grammatically coequal clauses; and (2) only subordinating conjunctions can do the linking job when the need is to connect a subordinate clause to an independent clause.

The other important thing to remember is that conjunctive adverbs provide a much more forceful transition than their equivalent coordinating conjunctions. Indeed, our choice between these connective types largely determines the tone or language register of our writing or speech.




Having already taken up the additive and comparative relationships last week, we will now discuss the various connective options for establishing the reason-result or cause-and-effect relationship, the conditional relationship, the example relationship, and the temporal or time relationship.

For the reason-result relationship. “For” is the sole coordinating conjunction for establishing that an outcome described in the first independent clause is due to an action or cause given in the second independent clause: “They decided to work abroad, for jobs were hard to find in their homeland.” On the other hand, “so” is the sole coordinating conjunction for establishing that a cause described in the first independent clause led to the action or outcome given in the second independent clause: “The low-interest lending program had failed to achieve its purpose, so we decided to abolish it.”

For establishing the reason-result relationship, the conjunctive adverbs offer these much wider choices: “therefore,” “accordingly,” “consequently,” “hence,” “as a result,” “for this reason,” “thus,” “thereby,” and “by this means.” However, they provide much more pointed transitions than “so,” as in this example: “The low-interest lending program had clearly failed to achieve its purpose; therefore, we decided to abolish it.” It is thus advisable to be very sparing in using them in our writing and speech; indeed, their overuse can make us sound like lawyers obstinately arguing a case.

To establish the reason-result relationship between an independent clause and a subordinate clause, our choices depending on the needed nuance are the subordinating conjunctions “since,” “because,” “inasmuch as,” “as,” “as if,” “lest,” “now that,” “once,” “that,” “so that,” “when,” and “whenever.” Examples: “Since they always disagreed on major issues, the partners decided to part ways.” “Lest my point be misunderstood, allow me explain it more fully.” “The woman called up the police once it became clear that her jewels had been stolen.”

For the conditional relationship. When the idea in a subordinate clause is a condition for the idea in the independent clause to be true or acceptable, the choice of subordinating conjunctions are “if,” “if only,” “as long as,” “in order that,” “unless,” and “wherever.” Examples: “She would quit her job if she doesn’t get a raise.” “Unless you produce the sales invoice, they wouldn’t replace that defective product.”

For the example relationship. A simple but powerful way to clarify an idea is to illustrate it with a concrete example. English has no conjunction for conveying this relationship, but two conjunctive adverbs, “for example” and “for instance,” do the job nicely: “Her memory must be very bad indeed; for instance, she misplaced her car keys five times last weekend.”

For the temporal or time relationship. Establishing the temporal relationship is a unique function of the subordinating conjunctions “after,” “before,” “until,” “till,” and “while.” They serve as subordinating time markers for the dependent clause in complex sentences: “After he passed the bar examinations, the new lawyer worked as a clerk in a prestigious law firm.” “She won’t be able to leave Manila while her immigration case is pending.”

We’re done with our review of the basic connective types in English.

(Next: The preposition as the other type of functional connective) June 8, 2017

This essay, 1042nd of a series, appeared in the weekly column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the Education Section of The Manila Times, June 1, 2017 issue (print edition only), © 2017 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2017, 03:58:26 PM by Joe Carillo » Logged

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