What the Heck Is a Conjunctive Adverb?

Without even realizing it, you reach for them every day in your speech and writing. What are they? Conjunctive adverbs. And although you may not consciously think about them, it’s crucial to have a firm grasp on just what the heck a conjunctive adverb is. And understand how to use them effectively to improve the structure and flow of your sentences.

What Is a Conjunctive Adverb?

Conjunctions join or connect words, clauses, or phrases together. And when an adverb is called upon to connect two ideas, it becomes something really special: a conjunctive adverb. The mission of a conjunctive adverb is to deliver a smooth transition from one thought to another.

Examples of Conjunctive Adverbs

You often reach for a conjunctive adverb when you want to tie two thoughts together. For instance, you use words like also, besides, similarly, and likewise. Or you might want to break your thoughts—perhaps employing instead, conversely, or however. Conjunctive adverbs are useful to you as a writer in many ways. They allow you to vary your sentence structure and add conciseness to your writing style. Consider the following:

Example 1: I believe my coworker would not steal from me. But I keep my wallet in my desk. For this reason, I lock my desk.

Example 2: I believe my coworker would not steal from me; of course, I lock my desk because I keep my wallet in there.

In the second sentence, the conjunctive adverb of concession, of course, is used. And it reads and sounds so much better!

What They Accomplish

Conjunctive adverbs play an important role in improving sentence structure. They can emphasize, clarify, compare, show consequences, add, or contrast. Here are some common examples:

 

You want to: Conjunctive Adverb Conjunctive Adverb Conjunctive Adverb
Emphasize definitely naturally certainly
Clarify for example i.e. notably
Compare similarly likewise alternatively
Consequence consequently therefore thus
Add also additionally furthermore
Contrast however conversely otherwise

 

How to Use a Conjunctive Adverb

If you use a conjunctive adverb to join two main clauses, you’ll need to use a semicolon (see examples 1 and 2). If you use a conjunctive adverb to interrupt one main clause, use a comma (see examples 3 and 4). Sometimes, you won’t need a comma because the interruption is weak (see examples 5 and 6). Sentences 7 through 10 provide additional examples of how to effectively use conjunctive adverbs.

  1. Sid’s coworker teased him about his take on casual Fridays; otherwise, he would have worn his joggers.
  2. Molly ate her salad; meanwhile, her husband began attacking a huge steak.
  3. I needed to work on my thesis. Consequently, I stopped running my Netflix marathon.
  4. Sheila needed to walk the dog. Instead, she spent a few more minutes reading her new book.
  5. The report ended up in the recycle bin. Working on it for five hours was a mistake indeed.
  6. The café was nearby. Jane could therefore walk to it.
  7. The doctor was on the Board of Directors; he gets a free pass accordingly.
  8. Sting played all the hits; he additionally sang a few cover songs.
  9. The top salesperson will win a prize; certainly, you’ll be a contender.
  10. She wanted to pack for vacation; naturally, she needed multiple suitcases.

The Conjunctive Adverbs “Too” and “So”

We use the word too most often to express the thought of another conjunctive adverb: also. They mean the same thing. But too is used after the clause. For example:

Shelly went to the Capitol Building for a tour; John went there too.

I ate lunch with Maggie and Jim too.

When so is used as a conjunctive adverb, it can demonstrate an additional action or a consequence. Like this:

My supervisor received an extra week of paid vacation; so did I.

We didn’t pay our credit card bill last month, so we will have to get our spending under control.

 

You may not think about conjunctive adverbs as you speak naturally. However, business writing requires conciseness and clarity. Using conjunctive adverbs appropriately can help you to master your business communication skills.

 

 

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