This article is published in the monday issues of  Times of India.This article was written by Dr V Saraswathi.

Micmanz Lanugage Improvement series

Could you imagine the longest sentence in English ? You simply can’t , because a sentence could extend up to infinity with the help of conjunctions.

Let’s imagine you are narrating the story of a recent Tamil film. You could say it in one long sentence: the hero met the heroine and fell in love with her and then the villain came and fought with the hero but the hero killed the villain and saved the heroine and married her and they lived happily ever after.

What are conjunctions They are words that join two sentences or two clauses.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And I chose the one less travelled by.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep.

To be, or not to be,

That’s the question.

In the above famous quotations, you find the conjunctions and, but and or. They are called co-coordinating conjunctions as they join two main or coordinate clauses.

And suggests addition.

Is that the police” asked a frantic voice at the other end of the line.

Yes , sir, this is the police station,” replied the inspector on duty.

Oh ! Thank God! I want to report a robbery in the neighbourhood and the thief is trapped in an old lady’s bedroom. Please come quickly,” said the voice.

And who’s calling, please” the inspector asked.

There was a momentary silence at the other end. Then the voice whispered, “The thief !” .

In informal American English, and is sometimes dropped after the base form.

Let’s go see if Anne’s here.

Go jump in the river!

Come sit beside me.

But is used to indicate contrast as seen in the text below:

Management notice to employees


This will be accepted as an excuse, but we would like two weeks notice as we feel it is your duty to teach someone your job prior to or after death.

When you would like to suggest an alternative, you use or.

Teacher: Is America further away from us or is the moon at a greater distance?

Student: America!

Teacher: America ? Whatever gave you this idea

Student: Simple! We can always see the moon, from India, but not America!

When expressions are joined by and, but, or, we often leave out repeated words or phrases of various kinds.

Antique or modern furniture.

In France, Germany or Spain.

She can read, but can’t write.

The food and drinks are ready.

Phil and Sally washed the dishes.


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