Author Topic: Part 3 - Getting reacquainted with the conjunctive adverbs  (Read 6912 times)

Joe Carillo

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Part 3 - Getting reacquainted with the conjunctive adverbs
« on: June 03, 2020, 12:58:35 AM »
Timely Reacquaintance with Connectives and Discourse Markers


For 12 consecutive days from today, June 1 to June 12, 2020, the Forum is running a special retrospective of its comprehensive series in 2017 on the English connectives and discourse markers. These connectives—the coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, conjunctive adverbs, prepositions, and discourse markers—are the basic tools of English for enabling readers or listeners to navigate the sense and logic of what’s written or being spoken about. Today we will be getting reacquainted with the conjunctive adverbs.


Part 3 - Getting reacquainted with the conjunctive adverbs

Let’s now proceed to the third class of connectives for establishing the logical relationship and for providing transition between two independent clauses, across sentence boundaries, or between paragraphs. These connectives are the conjunctive adverbs, and they are more explicit and forceful in performing these two functions than their counterpart coordinating conjunctions or subordinating conjunctions.


The conjunctive adverbs are also far more numerous than the coordinating conjunctions, which count only seven, and the subordinating conjunctions, which count about 32. Here are the 51 most common conjunctive adverbs, grouped according to the logic they bring to two independent ideas:

Addition: “moreover,” “furthermore,” “in addition,” “besides.”

Cause-and-effect: “therefore,” “accordingly,” “consequently,” “hence,” “as a result,” “for this reason,” “thus,” “thereby,” “by this means.”

Opposition and contrast: “however,” “nevertheless,” “nonetheless,” “conversely,” “in contrast,” “still,” “otherwise.”

Example: “for example,” “for instance,” “in particular.”

Emphasis: “in fact,” “as a matter of fact,” “indeed.”

Comparative: “equally,” “likewise,” “similarly,” “in the same way,” “in the same token,” “still.”

Alternative: “otherwise,” “instead,” “on the other hand,” “in any case,” “at any rate.”

Temporal: “meanwhile,” “then,” “subsequently,” “afterwards,” “earlier,” “later,” “henceforth,” “thereafter,” “thereupon.”

Sequence: “next,” “in this manner,” “in this way.”

Conditionality: “otherwise.”

Interjection: “incidentally.”

A conjunctive adverb is actually like a coordinating conjunction in that both serve to link two independent clauses, but they differ in the way they are punctuated and positioned in the resulting compound sentence.


First, independent clauses combined by a coordinating conjunction are typically set apart by a comma: “The two politicians realized they needed each other’s support, so they decided to settle their running feud.” In contrast, when a conjunctive adverb connects two independent clauses, the one that comes after the first needs to be preceded by a semicolon, and the conjunctive adverb needs a comma right after it: “The two politicians realized they needed each other’s support; thus, they decided to settle their running feud.”

Second, a conjunctive adverb isn’t really a true linking device. It is unlike a coordinating conjunction that always positions itself before the independent clause that it links to another independent clause, as in this example: “Their social standing has risen, and their finances have grown immensely.” In contrast, the conjunctive adverb “moreover”—a close equivalent of the coordinating conjunction “and”—often can position itself elsewhere in the second independent clause: “Their social standing has risen; moreover, their finances have grown immensely.” “Their social standing has risen; their finances have grown immensely, moreover.”

Structurally, independent clauses linked by a conjunctive adverb and those linked by a coordinating or subordinating conjunction generally can work only as a single sentence. However, those linked by conjunctive adverbs can readily be separated into two sentences, with the second sentence retaining the conjunctive adverb: “Their social standing has risen. Moreover, their finances have grown immensely.” The conjunctive adverb can in many instances even be positioned elsewhere in the second sentence: “Their social standing has risen. Their finances, moreover, have grown immensely.” “Their social standing has risen. Their finances have grown immensely, moreover.”

As a rule, every coordinating or subordinating conjunction has a corresponding conjunctive adverb that expresses more or less the same logic. Our choice of connective will depend on the desired tone of voice or forcefulness. For instance, although the connectives “so” (coordinating conjunction), “because” (subordinating conjunction), and “therefore” (conjunctive adverb) convey the same logic, they provide different tonalities when connecting independent clauses: “The voters believed he can do the job, so they elected him their president.”  “The voters elected him their president because they believed he can do the job.” “The voters believed he can do the job; therefore, they elected him their president.”

We can see that conjunctive adverbs are very suitable for strongly emphasizing a point, but we must beware that when used much too often, they can give rise to distracting, heavy-handed language.

(Next: Part 4 - Mastery of the connectives can make us write much better])      June 4, 2017
« Last Edit: February 23, 2024, 10:30:52 PM by Joe Carillo »