A conjunctive adverb, otherwise known as a subordinating adverb, is an adverb that connects two clauses. And while they play an important grammatical role, punctuating them can be a little tricky (at first!).
In this post, we’ll discuss how to use conjunctive adverbs in your writing and the correct way to punctuate them.
What Are Conjunctive Adverbs?
Conjunctive adverbs help smooth the transition between two related ideas. They can connect two clauses within the same sentence or link two complete sentences and can be used to:
● Present a contrasting idea (however, nonetheless, nevertheless, instead).
● Show a sequence of events (finally, next, subsequently).
● Show cause and effect (consequently, therefore).
● Expand on previously stated information (additionally, moreover).
These adverbs can join two independent clauses using a semicolon and a comma (never two commas). For example:
I want to go to the beach tomorrow; however, I think it’s going to rain.
I want to go to the beach tomorrow, however, I think it’s going to rain.
They can also show the relationship between two complete sentences. In these cases, a comma should follow the conjunctive adverb if it’s used at the beginning of a sentence and precede it if it’s at the end. For example:
I want to go to the beach tomorrow. However, I think it’s going to rain.
I want to go to the beach tomorrow. However I think it’s going to rain.
I want to go to the beach tomorrow. I think it’s going to rain, however.
I want to go to the beach tomorrow. I think it’s going to rain however.
If a conjunctive adverb is used in the middle of a sentence, it can be offset with commas. For example:
She doesn’t like to bake. She does, however, enjoy buying cookies from bakeries.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule: if the conjunctive adverb is essential to the meaning of the sentence, then the surrounding commas can be omitted. This is often the case for adverbs like thus and therefore; however, what is considered essential can be a matter of judgment.
Check out these examples:
It looks like it’s going to snow during recess tomorrow. All students therefore need to wear winter gear.
The math test is on Monday. You thus need to study all weekend.
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