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The Coordinator in English Grammar

The Coordinator in English Grammar

Coordinators in English grammar are function words that join or link two or more words, phrases, and clauses. Function words perform definite grammatical functions but lack definite lexical meaning. Only one grammatical form can perform the function of coordinator in English. The one grammatical form that can function as the coordinator is the coordinating conjunction.

Coordinating Conjunctions as Coordinators

The seven coordinating conjunctions in English, which can be remembered through the acronym FANBOYS, are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. (Note that the conjunction for is not commonly used in either spoken or written Modern English.) Coordinating conjunctions can link words, phrases, and clauses. Prescriptive grammars require that the linguistic constituents linked by a coordinating conjunction be of the same grammatical form. For example, the following sentences contain coordinating conjunctions that join equal constituents:

  • The tiny but mighty dog chased away the burglar. (adjectives)
  • You may cook, wash, or dry. (verbs)
  • The grocery store and the gas station are open late on Christmas Eve. (noun phrases)
  • The vacuum runs rather loudly and incredibly poorly (adverb phrases)
  • The weather was lovely, so the forecaster was wrong. (verb clauses)
  • Mexico is a mere day away, yet she has never returned to her home country. (verb clauses)

However, native English speakers often use coordinating conjunctions to join different grammatical forms. For example, the following sentences contain coordinating conjunctions that join unequal constituents:

  • That made screams loudly and like a girl. (adverb and prepositional phrase)
  • That purse must be inexpensive or on sale. (adjective and prepositional phrase)
  • The duck broke the plate, but the glass was broken by the goose. (active voice and passive voice)

A coordinator is a function word that joins or links two or more linguistic constituents including words, phrases, and clauses. Only coordinating conjunctions function as coordinators in English grammar.

Summary

Coordinators in English grammar are function words that join or link two or more words, phrases, and clauses. Function words perform definite grammatical functions but lack definite lexical meaning.

Coordinator is a grammatical function.

The grammatical form that can function as the coordinator in English grammar is the coordinating conjunction.

The seven coordinating conjunctions in English are and, but, or, nor, so, yet, and for.

References

Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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