in Endless Grammatical Angst!
Also called adverbial conjunctions,
conjunctive adverbs are pathetic, confused little creatures.
are adverbs or conjunctions in traditional grammar!
they try to be both. This leads to all sorts
of punctuation problems.
Before we go into detail, however,
we should take a look at the most common conjunctive
adverbs and adverbial phrases so we can better recognize
them. View this line-up not with contempt, but with pity
for these half-breed misfits:
as a result
Because they are akin to adverbs,
conjunctive adverbs can indeed function as simple adverbs.
In such a situation, they merely modify a verb, adjective,
or another adverb. When they behave this way, they do
need any special punctuation.
They are simply functioning as adverbs. For
consider these two sentences:
She was accordingly quite interested in grammar.
However ugly the gargoyle may be, I will go on a blind
date with him.
Here, accordingly and
however are simple
adverbs. All accordingly does
is modify the verb interested.
All however does
is modify the adjective ugly.
On the other hand, as Kolln and
Funk note, conjunctive
adverbs can also appear at the start of a
result, concession, apposition, addition, time, contrast,
or reinforcement (295).
Result: therefore, consequently,
Concession: nevertheless, yet, still, after all, of course
Apposition: for example, for instance, that is, namely,
in other words
Addition: moreover, furthermore, also, in addition,
Time: meanwhile, in the meantime
Contrast: however, instead, on the contrary, on the
other hand, in contrast, rather
Summary: thus, in conclusion, then
Reinforcement: further, in particular,
indeed, above all, in fact
When conjunctive adverbs function
this way, they are separated from the rest of the sentence
with a comma. In such cases, the conjunctive adverb
needs a comma after it because it is a phrase appearing
before an independent clause. Note the commas in the
Therefore, I will eat eggs!
Still, it sounds like a good idea.
In other words, grammar is a useful skill.
students should embrace the sad little conjunctive
Meanwhile, the conjunctive adverbs sat pouting in the
However, we should not mock conjunctive adverbs.
conjunctive adverbs will bow before their masters, the
Above all, we must realize conjunctive adverbs are an important part of
the grammatical ecosystem.
Finally, sometimes conjunctive
adverbs try to pretend they are
hook two independent clauses together.
This pretension is indeed a sad travesty!
They are not really full conjunctions, and they can't
do that job
lurk just behind a semicolon in this situation, and
it is the semicolon that does the real job of joining
the two independent clauses. A comma should always follow the conjunctive adverb in such instances.
- The gods thundered in the heavens; furthermore, the
mortals below cowered in fear.
- The bank robber dodged the bullet; however, Joey
was shot seventeen times in the tibia.
- Susan appreciated the flowers; nevertheless, a
Corvette would be a finer gift.
Dr. Wheeler is a grammar tyrant; thus, he
requires correct punctuation.
She will go on a blind date with George; however, he
is a really ugly fellow.
tyranosaurs were migrating south; meanwhile, the
apatosaurs breathed a
sigh of relief.
conjunctive adverbs pretend they are conjunctions; however, the
semicolon is what really connects the two clauses together.
Note that if students use a comma
instead of a semicolon in the examples above, they
have created a comma splice. Such formations absolutely
require the semicolon in front of the conjunctive adverb
and a comma
after the conjunctive adverb.
Click here to go back to the grammar
page. Click here to download
a PDF handout covering the material on this page.
Kolln, Martha and Robert Funk. Understanding
English Grammar. New York: Pearson Publishing,