Conjunctive Adverbs: What They’re & What They’re Not

Conjunctive adverbs are words that are used to connect clauses. They are also transitions which show cause and effect, contrast, comparison, and other transitions.

So, they’re both adverbs and conjunctions—they’re adverbs whose job is to connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences.

They are usually confused with coordinating conjunctions but as you’ll find out in this article, they’re two very different things.

I did a piece on transitions, the things I covered in that article are also relevant here because as I said, conjunctive adverbs are also transitional expressions.

Let’s get started!

conjunctive adverbs what they're & what they're not

What Is a Conjunctive Adverb?

Conjunctive adverbs are, as the name suggests, adverbs that double as conjunctions—they link clauses.

As transitional instruments and are used to indicate contrast, cause and effect, sequence, and other transitions.

List of Conjunctive adverbs

  • Accordingly
  • again
  • also
  • as a result
  • besides
  • consequently
  • for example
  • further
  • furthermore
  • hence
  • however
  • in addition
  • indeed
  • in fact
  • in particular
  • instead
  • likewise
  • meanwhile
  • moreover
  • nevertheless
  • of course
  • otherwise
  • still
  • then
  • therefore
  • thus

Examples of Conjunctive Adverbs in A Sentence

two independent clauses are connected by the phrase in fact, a conjunctive adverb.
Two independent clauses are connected by the phrase in fact, a conjunctive adverb.

1. This course is expensive; on the other hand, you could gain a lot of knowledge from it.

2. This is my favorite spot; in fact, I heard it was the best café in the 80s.

3. The school was closed; therefore, he had to find something else to keep him busy.

4. You could pay a lot of money for their services; however, if you endorse them, they’re willing to help you for free.

5. She invited me to dinner; in addition, she wants me to bring a friend.

Using Conjunctive Adverbs

Here are some of the uses of conjunctive adverbs:

1. Indicating A Connection Between Two Independent Clauses

A conjunctive adverb—being a conjunction—serves a similar purpose as that of a coordinating conjunction. It connects two main clauses.  However, when this happens, conjunctive adverbs are followed by a semicolon, not a comma, like in the case of a coordinating conjunction. Conjunctive adverbs follow this structure:

(Main Clause); + (Conjunctive Adverb), + (Main Clause)

2. Linking Ideas in A Passage

A conjunctive adverb can introduce, yoke, or conclude sentences in a passage. This versatility means that you can use these adverbs to link different parts in a passage and create a flow of ideas.

3. Showing The Connectedness of Ideas Within an Independent Clause

Apart from connecting ideas in the entire passage, conjunctive adverbs are also used to show relationships of ideas within a single main clause.

Conjunctive adverbs use the second clause to modify the first clause like an adverb.
 Conjunctive adverbs use the second clause to modify the first clause like an adverb.

Specific Functions of Conjunctive Adverbs

Addition

Conjunctive adverbs can be used to add an idea to the first clause. The conjunctive adverbs that show addition include: also, addition, moreover, furthermore, in likewise, further.

Example

This laptop is expensive for me; besides, it’s just an antique piece for a geek like myself.

Cause and Effect

Conjunctive adverbs can also indicate a cause and effect relationship between two clauses. The conjunctive adverb connects the cause (the preceding clause) to the effect (the last/succeeding clause). Examples of conjunctive adverbs that show cause and effect include: thus, therefore, consequently, accordingly, hence, then.

Example

He had been living with them for a year; therefore, they knew what kind of person he was.

Clarification

Conjunctive adverbs help usher in examples or proof to support points provided in a passage. Some of the conjunctive adverbs that serve this purpose are: for example, for instance, namely, in other words, that is.

Example

The stock markets are sustained by greed; for example, people buy stocks regardless of the company’s criminal undertakings.

Comparison

Conjunctive adverbs can also be employed to compare standardized ideas. The conjunctive adverb can be used to put two main clauses that are alike. These conjunctive adverbs include: likewise and similarly.

Example

His wife suffered; similarly, he was affected.

Concession

Conjunctive adverbs also show concession to a counterargument. Conjunctive adverbs used to concede points include: nevertheless, yet, still, after all, of course.

Example

He promised to put in a word for her; of course, he isn’t someone we put our faith in.

Contrast

One of the transitions that change the direction of a passage involves showing contrast. Conjunctive adverbs are great for indicating contrast between two ideas. These conjunctive adverbs include: however, in contrast, instead, on the contrary, on the other hand, rather.

Example

Things could have been worse; however, they arrived the soonest.

Emphasis

Conjunctive adverbs can also be used to stress a point. The idea is usually introductory, and the second has an emphatic weight. Examples include: again, certainly, indeed, moreover.

Example

The company let go of him; moreover, he was an unproductive sloth.

Sequence

Sequences enable readers to jump from one idea to another, knowing where the passage is coming from and where it’s going. Conjunctive adverbs show sequential transitions from one instance to another. These are some of such adverbs: first, second, next, finally.

Example

We’re going to have a wonderful time here; first, let’s go for a walk.

Summary

Conjunctive adverbs are great words for wrapping up a point or a statement. Examples include: all in all, in conclusion, in summary, thus, then.

Example

We ended up signing two contracts; all in all, it was a good meeting.

Time

Conjunctive adverbs also indicate time. They can thrust the story into a previous timeline, show simultaneity, or bring it back up-to-the-minute. Some of these conjunctive adverbs are: meanwhile, in the meantime, beforehand, lately, now, since.

Example

We used to play in the woods that covered this place; now, it’s just a concrete jungle.

Rules for Punctuating Conjunctive Adverbs

A conjunctive adverb that joins two independent clauses in a single sentence must be ushered in by a semicolon and succeeded by a comma, like in the example below.

He knew he had no chance of progressing past the elimination; nevertheless, he worked hard to be able to compete.

conjunctive adverbs usually follow a semicolon or a period and have a comma after them.
Conjunctive adverbs usually follow a semicolon or a period and have a comma after them.

If using a conjunctive adverb in any other way other than joining clauses, it should be set off by a comma like in the following examples:

However, it’s a lonely way of life.

Frank, on the other hand, is a humble man.

When you use a conjunctive adverb at the end of a sentence, it should be preceded by a comma.

Conjunctive adverbs, Are They Wannabe Conjunctions?

Not really. In fact, conjunctive adverbs are legit conjunctions. They are part of the 4-member conjunction family which also includes coordinating, subordinate, and correlative conjunctions.

They are usually confused with coordinating conjunctions but they follow different punctuation rules and are different instruments when used as transitions and used to connect independent clauses.

Conjunctive adverbs are not one of the eight parts of speech, but are a sort of hybrid creation.

Can Conjunctive Adverbs Start a Sentence?

Yes. You can use conjunctive adverbs to start a sentence. If the conjunctive adverb connects that sentence with the preceding sentence or passage, then it’s alright to use it.

Let’s look at these examples to see how this works:

A. I like writing because I can literally play a god. For example, I can create people (characters) and places that don’t exist.

B. The team finished in third place which meant they were eliminated. However, they qualified because they were the best losers.

Final Words On Conjunctive Adverb

Conjunctive are legit adverbs and conjunctions as well. But, conjunctive adverbs are not coordinating conjunctions. The two are punctuated differently and conjunctive adverbs are not as strong as coordinating conjunctions.

Conjunctive adverbs offer great transitions and just like any other conjunction, they perfectly cement passages to transform choppy sentences into readable, comprehensive paragraphs.

About Jessica Majewski

Jessica started off as an avid book reader. After reading one too many romance novels (really... is it ever really enough?), she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories.

She now shares what she has learned (the good and the not so good) here at When You Write, hoping she can inspire more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world.