Of FANBOYS and Conjunctive Adverbs: How to Compose Compound Sentences

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Let’s start with the FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so). I’ll use this handy, easy-to-remember mnemonic device instead of a more technical term because some people refer to them as conjunctions (as in, Conjunction-junction, what’s your function?), some call them coordinators, while others use the term conjunctive coordinators. (Oh, those wild and crazy linguists. In England they’re called philologists. Is that cool, or what?)

FANBOYS are used to combine two simple sentences into one compound sentence. You’ll be relieved to discover that compound sentences are much easier to punctuate than those pesky complex sentences. All you have to do is replace the period with a comma, insert the appropriate FANBOY, and change the first letter of the second sentence from uppercase to lowercase.

Here are some examples:

I want to go out. My girlfriend wants to stay home.


I want to go out, but my girlfriend wants to stay home

Don’t hurt me. I am just the piano player.


Don’t hurt me, for I am just the piano player.

(I know this sounds a little goofy, but when for is employed as a FANBOY, it means because.)

I worked very hard. I should get a good grade.


I worked very hard, so I should get a good grade.

I studied all night. I got a “D” on the test.


I studied all night, yet I got a “D” on the test.
(But and yet can be used interchangeably.)

I love pizza. My best friend owns a pizzeria.


I love pizza, and my best friend owns a pizzeria.

(A note on and: By my crude estimation, only about half of the high school English teachers in Los Angeles County enforce the comma rule for compound sentences using the word and. Moreover, the comma is unnecessary when combining two simple sentences with the same subject. Thus, the following sentence requires no comma: I’m going to go out and buy a car.)

The following words are conjunctive adverbs: accordingly, also, besides, consequently, conversely, finally, furthermore, hence, however, indeed, instead, likewise, meanwhile, moreover, nevertheless, next, nonetheless, otherwise, similarly, still, subsequently, then, therefore, and thus.

Now repeat after me three times: FANBOYS are NOT conjunctive adverbs and they must never be utilized as such. More on that in a future post.

Quick lesson on combining simple sentences with FANBOYS:

#1 Share the above examples of simple sentences combined into compound sentences with your students.

#2 Number off students into groups of three.

#3 Instruct each group to compose eight pairs of simple sentences and then combine them into four compound sentences. (4+8=12)

#4 When groups have completed this task, they will show their work to the teacher who will put an asterisk next to one of the complound sentences.

#5 Students will copy the compound sentences along with the two simple sentences from which it was combined on the board.

#6 Teacher will review the sentences on the board as a whole-class activity.

by Richard W. Bray

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One Response to “Of FANBOYS and Conjunctive Adverbs: How to Compose Compound Sentences”

  1. Don’t Send a Conjunctive Adverb To Do A FANBOYS’ Job | Laughter hope sock in the eye's Blog Says:

    […] You could also join them together using the word but, which is one of the FANBOYS: […]

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