Development of Conjunctions

Do any of your students have IEP goals that include using conjunctions? Conjunctions are tiny parts of speech, but they can make all the difference when students are taking their sentences from simple to complex! Let’s look at some effective ways to teach your students conjunctions. 

Coordinating Conjunctions 

Coordinating conjunctions are the most basic type of conjunctions. Students will learn these first. These conjunctions are used to join two words, two phrases, or two independent clauses. Students can use the mnemonic device FANBOYS to remember the list of conjunctions. The mnemonic device FANBOYS stands for the words for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. Students can make a poster or word wall that shows this way to remember conjunctions. 

Some fun activities you can use to work on conjunctions with your students include:

  • Silly sentences. Each student in the group, or you and the student, writes a sentence. Then, the students select a conjunction at random (from a folded slip of paper or an upside-down notecard) to link two of the sentences together. If you are working with a group, you or a student can read the silly linked sentences aloud! 
  • Memory match. Write down words on notecards that are commonly linked by conjunctions. Shuffle them up, and place them face down on the desk or floor. Students can look for common pairs of words (rock and roll, rain or shine, small but mighty) and join them using a conjunction. 

Subordinating Conjunctions 

Once a student has mastered coordinating conjunctions, then it’s time to move on to subordinating conjunctions! These include the words because, if, when, before, after, although, since, until, and while. Subordinating conjunctions are used to introduce a dependent clause, which is a phrase that includes a subject and verb but cannot stand alone as a sentence. A subordinating conjunction defines the relationship between the clauses, such as cause and effect, time, place, and contrast. 

It can be a challenge to get students to understand the relationship between clauses so they can decide what conjunction is appropriate to use! However, there are some great ways to help students master these types of conjunctions: 

  • Give the students a sentence that has a blank where the subordinating conjunction should be, and then give them three options for the conjunction that should fill in the blank. Have them say the sentence using each option aloud, and ask them to determine which one makes the most sense. 
  • Use pictures! Cut pictures out that can be used with conjunctions. For example, pair a picture of a family eating dinner with a picture of someone laying in bed. The student could make a sentence using the conjunction “because” to say something like “Sam did not eat dinner with his family because he was sleeping.” A picture of a girl brushing her teeth paired with a picture of a school bus could be used with the conjunction “before” to make a sentence like “Sarah brushed her teeth before she left for school.” As a scaffold, give the student the conjunction you want them to use first and then allow them to make a sentence and choose their own conjunction. 

Correlative Conjunctions

The most complex conjunctions are called correlative conjunctions. These always come in a pair and are used to join elements in a sentence. Common pairs include “either … or”, “neither … nor”, “not only … but also”, and “both … and”. 

Correlative conjunctions can be very difficult for students to learn! Fortunately, there are some great ways to help them, including:

  • Anchor charts. Make an anchor chart to hang in your speech room, or make and laminate a portable version for push-in instruction. The anchor chart should include common correlative conjunctions, their definition, and an example or two. 
  • Student-as-teacher. Provide the student with some sentences using correlative conjunctions- some correctly and some incorrectly. The student can pretend to be the teacher and mark the sentences as correct or incorrect. For a further challenge, he or she can correct the sentences in which the conjunctions are not used correctly! 


Need more ideas for teaching conjunctions? Then check out all of the conjunctions activities in my TPT store!