How to Find the Correct Conjunction

The ACT English Test consists of several short essays with underlined sections.You have to determine whether there is a grammatical error in each underlined portion, and select the best answer choice.

You don't have to identify a specific word as a conjunction, but if you know what they are, you are better be able to spot errors such as sentence fragments and run-on. 

Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions link ideas together and describe how two clauses relate to one another. To remember them, use the FANBOYS mnemonic. FANBOYS stands for: For - And - Nor - But - Or - Yet - So.

Example Question

The Roman Senate was dominated by the patricians, or the descendants of the original senators from the time of Romulus.

  2. nor
  3. and
  4. for

The correct answer is A. Here, the second clause (the descendants...) explains what the word “patricians” means, so you need a conjunction that helps describe that relationship. “Nor” would require the word “neither” or “not” in front of the word “by.” That’s because “nor” and “neither” make up a two-part idiom when you are giving two negative attributes to a subject. “And” makes it sound like “patricians” and “descendants” are different groups of people. “For” is usually used to offer an explanation, but that is not the meaning of this sentence.

Subordinating Conjunctions

There are other conjunctions called subordinating conjunctions. Examples include: because, after, although, before, until, when. These are used when a sentence has two independent clauses, but one is clearly most important than the other. Using a subordinating conjunction creates a clear relationship between the two clauses.

Example Question

Because I had a high fever, I took some cold medicine.

I took my vacation to Paris after I found out about my bonus check.