loader image

Using Coordinating Conjunctions (FANBOYS)

FANBOYS are good for connecting things.

There are seven coordinating conjunctions in English. These words are

  • F = for
  • A = and
  • N = nor
  • B = but
  • O = or
  • Y = yet
  • S = so

Coordinating conjunctions are also called FANBOYS because the first letter of each word can spell FANBOYS.

Joining Independent Clauses
One purpose of a coordinating conjunction is to join two independent clauses (simple sentences). For example:

{ simple sentence } . { simple sentence } .

I am hungry. I do not have any food.

With a coordinating conjunction:

{ simple sentence } , [FANBOYS] { simple sentence } .

I am hungry, but I do not have any food.

When you combine two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction, you create a compound sentence. Often, using compound sentence is better because it helps the reader understand how the two ideas relate to each other. Because you have added “but”, it shows that the ideas in each clause contrast.

Joining Nouns (Phrases)
Some coordinating conjunctions can also join noun phrases. (A noun phrase is a word like “pizza” or “delicious pizza”). For example,

  • She likes basketball and soccer. (two nouns joined by and)
  • You can have soup or salad.
  • She cannot dance nor sing.
  • She looked beautiful yet worried.


  • When joining phrases, do not put a comma before the coordinating conjunction.
  • The coordinating conjunctions so and for cannot join phrases.

Coordinating Conjunction Functions
Now, check out the functions of each coordinating conjunction:

  • FOR
    used to show cause & effect (similar to ‘because’)
    She was tired,
    for she did not sleep well last night.
  • AND
    used to join two related ideas (the ideas do not contrast)
    I went to the store, and I bought a banana.
  • NOR
    used with two negative ideas. (Note: nor is often used with neither. Also, with nor, the subject (my sister) and auxiliary verb (did) are reversed)
    I did not like the movie nor did my sister.
  • BUT
    used to show contrast between two ideas (one idea is often positive, but the other is negative)
    I went to the store, but it was closed.
  • OR
    used to join two different choices.
    You can take the bus, or you can walk with me.
  • YET
    used for contrast (the same as but).
    The movie was boring, yet I watched all of it.
  • SO
    used for cause & effect (similar to for but the order of ideas is the opposite)
    She did not sleep last night, so she was tired.
  • Notes about Coordinating Conjunctions
  1. The most common FANBOYS are and, but, or, so. The conjunction for is old-fashioned and rarely used.
  2. In academic and professional writing, FANBOYS are generally not used to start sentences. Instead, they are used to join two independent clauses to make a compound sentence. However, in informal writing and speaking, FANBOYS are often used to start sentences.
  3. If you are joining two independent clauses, then some teachers believe it is best to put a comma before the coordinating conjunction. If you are joining two phrases (i.e. nouns), then a comma is not required.


  • {I opened the front door}, and {the dog quickly ran outside.} (with a comma)

    Both {independent sentences} are complete thoughts that can be written as simple sentences. If you want to combine them, some teachers believe that you should put a comma before the FANBOYS.

  • {I bought pizza} and {a hotdog}. (noun)

    The second phrase, “a hot dog” is not an independent clause (there is no subject or verb). Therefore, you should not put a comma before “and”.

  • {She looked in her bag} but {didn’t find her pen}.

    Again, the second part {but didn’t find her pen} is not a complete thought (the subject is missing). Therefore, do not put a comma before “but”.