Lesser Conjunctions

As you have learned, a conjunction joins words, parts of sentences, or sentences. 

There is also another type of conjunction. Lesser conjunctions can join two sentences but cannot join two words.

Joining Sentences

Both a conjunction and a lesser conjunction can join the sentences.

Conjunction:             We went to the zoo, and we went to the water park. 😊

Lesser Conjunction:  We will vacation there if there is a water park. 😊

Joining Words

A conjunction can join two words, but a lesser conjunction cannot.

Conjunction:                    Bob and Rhoda went to town. 😊

Lesser Conjunction:       Bob if Rhonda went to town.  😒

Conjunctions of More Than One Word

Some conjunctions consist of two or more words. Treat them as one word.  For example:

Jill will farm in Illinois after graduation, even though Bill, her boyfriend, will be spending the summer in France.

Sentence 1:    Jill will farm in Illinois after graduation,

Conjunction:   even though

Sentence 2:    Bill will be spending the summer in France.

List of Commonly Used Lesser Conjunctions




As if

As long as




Even if

Even though


In order that

Rather than


So that










Whether or not


Test for Lesser Conjunctions

There is no need to memorize the above list, for there is a simple test for lesser conjunctions:

sentence ______________ sentence

If you have two sentences and a word joins them – and you have not already identified the word – then it is a (lesser) conjunction.  Simply call it a conjunction.

The Word that

That is

A pronoun:         It is a pronoun if it stands alone.

That is a good idea. 

A determiner:     It is a determiner if it is attached to a noun.

That idea might save our company!

A lesser conjunction:   It is a conjunction if it connects two sentences.

I will tell him that he can go on the trip.

Class Activity

Underline the lesser conjunction in the following sentences.

1. I won the race because Sue fell down.                                              

2. I played golf although I only had one club.                                       

3. We played baseball even though it rained all day.                            

4. Someone should tell Jennifer that her boyfriend has the brains of a turnip.  

Small Group Activity

Find the two lesser conjunctions in the following paragraph.
Remember the test: Sentence _______________ sentence.

On the island of Crete the German jumps had been over the airfields, so that the gliders and transport planes could land. But the Allies had too few gliders to imitate this plan on Sicily. Instead, the main invasion force would land by sea. The task of the paratroops was to land at different places on the highways going around the island, even though the paratroops probably would have to land at night in heavy winds.

Turning Sentences Around

Sometimes you must straighten out sentences to see the lesser conjunction. 

After he left the Service, Joaquin joined the Miami Police Department.

Joaquin joined the Miami Police Department after he left the Service.

Sentence 1:                    Joaquin joined the Miami Police Department

Lesser conjunction:       after

Sentence 2:                    he left the Service

Whenever I am in Dallas, I go see the Mavericks or Cowboys play.

I go see the Mavericks or Cowboys play whenever I am in Dallas. 

Sentence 1:                    I go see the Mavericks or Cowboys play.

Lesser conjunction:       whenever

Sentence 2:                    I am in Dallas.

Small Group Activity

Turn the sentence around if you can without making it awkward or confusing.

Identify if there are two sentences.

Identify the lesser conjunction. 

Remember the test: Sentence _______________ sentence.

    1. Although she was just a beginner, Maria was able to join the Santa Clara Golf Club.
    2. If I can afford to go to college, I will become a herpetologist.
    3. Before dawn, the Egyptian army marched into the desert.
    4. Even though she was only 14, Kim Lun climbed K2.
    5. In order to blend subject and theme, Da Vinci used the sfumato technique in the Mona Lisa.

Individual or Small Group Activity

Complete both exercises:       Turkey


Optional Activity