Conjunctive Adverbs

May 22, 2021

Definition: A conjunctive adverb (adverbial conjunction, transitional device) can be used to join two independent clauses, making a compound sentence.

Like a conjunction, it connects ideas, but it is stronger. It shows a more specific relationship and usually acts as a transition between the clauses. It can combine, compare, contrast, emphasize, summarize, illustrate, show sequence, and concede that the reader already knows an idea. (Notice that all the ideas in this series are verbs or verb phrases so they are parallel.)

Weak: Most Labrador retrievers are friendly, but some can be mean.
Stronger: Most Labrador retrievers are friendly; however, some can be mean.

Some common conjunctive adverbs

accordingly
also
anyway
besides
certainly
consequently
conversely
finally
furthermore
hence
however
incidentally
indeed
instead
likewise
meanwhile
moreover
next
nevertheless
nonetheless
otherwise
similarly
specifically
still
subsequently
then
therefore
thus

Beware: This is not a complete list, and all of these words are not always used this way. Memorizing the list is not useful. Analyzing how words work together in a sentence is the best way to find them.Definition: Conjunctive adverbs can also be used in the middle of a sentence as parenthetical expressions.

I know Jeremiah can, in fact, sing very well.

Conjunctive adverbs used as parenthetical expressions include the list above and these common compound ones.

for example
namely
on the contrary
in fact
that is
on the other hand

Punctuating Conjunctive Adverbs

When used in a simple sentence as a parenthetical expression, the conjunctive adverb has commas around it because it is not grammatically a part of the sentence. It may seem like an adverb, but it is usually just something people say in conversation.

We are, however, not ready to go.

If it is used to combine sentences, a semicolon is used before the conjunctive adverb. (Think of a semicolon as two commas – one that would have been in front of a coordinating conjunction plus one that shows that however is parenthetical.)

I am ready; however, you are not.

Sentences with conjunctive adverbs can also be written as separate sentences.

I am ready. However, my sister is not.


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