“Making Language Studies Meaningful”
Music & Lyrics: Bob Dorough
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Conjunction Junction, what's your function?
Hooking up words and phrases and clauses.
Conjunction Junction, how's that function?
I got three favorite cars
That get most of my job done.
Conjunction Junction, what's their function?
I got "and", "but", and "or",
They'll get you pretty far.
If you are like me, you hear the word conjunction and Sunday morning Schoolhouse Rock cartoons pops into your head. I see the train cars, hear the tune, and sing the words above. I can honestly say that don't recall learning about this language tool, or every considering why a reader would need it, but hope that I can change that pattern for our students.
Can you define a conjunction and explain it in simple terms? YES!
A regular old conjunction, also known as a coordinating conjunction, is a word that, as stated in the song, connects/“hooks up” parts in a sentence- parts that are of equal importance. As authors, we strive to write developed sentences. We work to stretch them out so they become more complex, and we must rely on conjunctions to do so. Our favorite mechanics master, Jeff Anderson refers to the most common coordinating conjunctions as FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so). Please know there are more.
Subordinating conjunctions are the words that “hook up” an independent clause and a dependent clause. The most common include: after, although, as, as far as, as if, as long as, as soon as, as though, because, before, if, in order that, since, so, so that, than, though, unless, until, when, whenever, where, whereas, whenever, while.
Correlative conjunctions work as “partner pairs” to conjoin groups of words of equal importance in a sentence. They include: either…or, not only… but also, neither…nor, both…and, whether…or, just as…so. I often consider these my “see-saw” conjunctions. As writers become more sophisticated, the correlative conjunctions become more useful and natural. Students will encounter these conjunctions in their texts and be expected to use them in their writing.
As readers, we crave a sweet harmony of varied sentences. We like to read some short ones and we like to mix it up with longer, more complex ones. Whether we’re reading fiction or non-fiction, the craving is still the same.
“You can give me the books, and I’ll check them out for you, Ron,” she said gently.
-From Rose Blue’s and Corinne J. Naden’s book Ron’s Big Mission
Because I am the oldest, my father told me first, and now it’s my turn to tell the others.
-From Sandra Cisnero’s vignette Papa who Wakes up Tired in the Dark
As soon as Martin and other black leaders in Montgomery heart what had happened, they rushed into action.
- From Martin Luther King, Jr.:The Fight for Freedom by Joanne Mattern
I will either go to batty looking for a correlative conjunction in a mentor text from home or I will go to sleep and continue the search tomorrow.
While it’s not as imperative that our students know for formal name for these language tools, it is imperative that we teach children to recognize and write more complex sentences. We have a duty to help them reach beyond the simple sentence and must help them comprehended what a writer is doing when he/she uses conjunctions- words that “hook up” words, phrases, and clauses.