Subordinating and coordinating conjunctions

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By Rosie Huckle

The National Curriculum (July 2014) sets out the expectation that in Key Stage 1, Year 2 pupils should be introduced to the grammatical concepts of subordination and coordination. That means they must develop an understanding of how to use the co-ordinating conjunctions or, and and but in sentences, as well as be confident in using the subordinating conjunctions when, if, that and because.


Conjunctions are joining words and their main function is to link together two different parts of a sentence.

Coordinating conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions are used to join words, phrases or main clauses that have equal weight in a sentence. And, but and or are the three main coordinating conjunctions.

  • The dragon is fierce and enormous. (The words fierce and enormous are linked as an equal pair).
  • The dragon has long talons, but he is very friendly. (The two clauses The dragon has long talons and He is very friendly are grammatically independent of each other and each would make sense on its own. The conjunction but joins them together).
  • The dragon likes to sleep in his cave, or he likes to curl up on a mountain crag. (Again, the two clauses would make sense separately and are joined by the coordinating conjunction or.)
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