Author Topic: Part 5 - Choosing the right connectives for our ideas - 1  (Read 7919 times)

Joe Carillo

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4653
  • Karma: +205/-2
    • View Profile
    • Email
Part 5 - Choosing the right connectives for our ideas - 1
« on: June 04, 2020, 10:52:24 PM »
Timely Reacquaintance with Connectives and Discourse Markers

For 12 consecutive days from 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, the series explains how to choose the right connectives for our ideas.

Part 5 - Choosing the right connectives for our ideas - 1

Yesterday, Part 4 of this series emphasized the importance of the connectives as tools for helping readers or listeners navigate our thoughts—their linkages, their correlations, their jumps, their permutations, and their digressions. The three types of connectives, namely the coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and conjunctive adverbs, explicitly signal the logical relations between clauses, between sentences, and between or across sentences and paragraphs.

Precisely what do these connectives do in our writing or speech? In English, as I pointed out last week, they are the primary operators for the interplay of the six basic logical relationships in language, namely (1) the additive relationship, (2) the comparative relationship, (3) the temporal or time relationship, (4) the reason-result relationship, (5) the conditional relationship, and (6) the example relationship. The choice of connective depends mainly on two things: the logical relationship we want to establish, and the structure of the clauses that we want to connect.

We already know that coordinating conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs perform essentially the same function: to logically connect two independent and grammatically coequal clauses. In the following sentence, for instance, the coordinating conjunction “but” serves as the logical connective—a contrasting one—between the two independent clauses: “We achieved our sales targets, but we fell short of our profit expectations.” Likewise, the conjunctive adverb “however” can establish that logical relationship: “We achieved our sales targets; however, we fell short of our profit expectations.”

Although the logic of the two resulting compound sentences above is essentially the same, we can see that the conjunctive adverb “however” provides a more emphatic transition than the coordinating conjunction “but.” This more explicit and forceful transition is, in fact, what typically differentiates the conjunctive adverbs from the coordinating conjunctions. Indeed, we can very well say that the coordinating conjunctions provide a soft transition between two independent ideas, while the conjunctive adverbs provide a strong transition between them.

On the other hand, when we need to connect a subordinate clause to an independent clause, only a subordinating conjunction can do the linking job properly. This type of connective not only provides grammatical linkage but also enables the subordinate clause to draw meaning from the independent clause. Structurally, when a subordinating conjunction links a dependent clause to an independent clause, the result is a complex sentence: “We achieved our sales targets although we fell short of our profit expectations.” Typically, such sentences can also be constructed with the subordinate clause positioned ahead of the independent clause: “Although we fell short of our profit expectations, we achieved our sales targets.”

Since coordinating conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs function in much the same way, we can freely choose between them to establish the desired logical relationship. The choice will strongly determine the language register or tone of our writing or speech. For informal, everyday language, the coordinating conjunctions usually suffice; for formal language, however, we may need the conjunctive adverbs every now and then to create particular nuances for the logical relationship we want to establish.

Let’s now survey the connectives available to us for establishing the various logical relationships between ideas:

For the additive relationship: We can routinely use the coordinating conjunction “and”—the only one of its kind—or, for much stronger emphasis, the conjunctive adverbs “moreover,” “additionally,” “furthermore,” “in addition,” and “besides.”

For contrast or opposition:  To connect two independent, co-equal clauses, we can use the coordinating conjunctions “but” or “yet” or, for more forceful contrast, the conjunctive adverbs “however,” “nevertheless,” “nonetheless,” “conversely,” “in contrast,” “still,” and “otherwise.”

To establish contrast or opposition between subordinate clauses and independent clauses, however, we need the subordinating conjunctions “though,” “although,” “as though,” “even if,” “even though,” “than,” “rather than,” “where,” and “whereas.”

We will continue this survey of connectives tomorrow in Part 6 of this series.

(Next: Part 6 - Choosing the right connectives for our ideas - 2)      June 6, 2020
« Last Edit: June 06, 2020, 03:30:30 AM by Joe Carillo »