ENGLISH

IMPORTANT CONJUNCTIONS & THEIR USES

1. AFTER & BEFORE

Common feature for all types of time clauses i.e. clauses beginning with AFTER, BEFORE, AS, AS SOON AS, SINCE, TILL/UNTIL, WHEN, WHENEVER, WHILE, etc. is that we do not use a future tense form, or a conditional tense (would) in them. To refer to the future we normally use the present simple instead of a future tense in such clauses; e.g.

INCORRECT: I’ll do another course after I will finish this one.
CORRECT: I’ll do another course after I finish this one.

INCORRECT: You’ll find the shop you are looking for after you will go another 50 meters.
CORRECT: You’ll find the shop you are looking for after you go another 50 meters.

A) When we use a time expression e.g. AFTER, BEFORE, WHEN, AS SOON AS to say that one event happened after another, we normally use Past Perfect for the event that happened first and the Past Simple for the event that happened second; e.g.

1. The patient had died before the doctor came.
2. After Mohan had finished reading, he went to bed.
3. When Ritu had taken her meal, she rested.

NOTE-I: After a time expression (AFTER, BEFORE, WHEN, etc.) we use the past perfect when we want to emphasize that the first action was completed before the second one started; e.g.

1. When Ritu had taken her meal, she started to read.
2. After Mohan had finished reading, he went to meet one of his friends.
3. When he had read the newspaper, he left for the office.

COMPARE
a) When he had sung her song he sat down. (means he finished his singing first, then sat down)
b) When he sang her song he sat down. (means before he started singing he sat down)

NOTE-II: When it’s a TILL/UNTIL + PAST PERFECT + SIMPLE PAST combinations the simple past action may precede the past perfect action; e.g.

1. Rita refused to go till she had watched the whole movie.
2. He did not wait till I had taken my bath.

NOTE-III: We use Past Perfect in the BEFORE-clause and Past Simple in the other clause when the action/event mentioned in the BEFORE-clause was unfinished at the time of speaking; e.g.

1. Before I had finished my lunch my mother asked me to bring a glass of water for her.
2. Before I had reached the school of my son my bike punctured.

NOTE-IV: We use the Past Perfect Tense in both the clauses when both the actions are seen before a point in the past; e.g.

1. It was a very expensive hotel. Before we had been here a week we had spent all our money.
2. When he had been at school he had learnt nothing, so he  was now illiterate.

But normally we put the verb in the time clause into the simple past; e.g.

When he was at school he had learnt nothing.

B) However Past Simple can also be used sometimes in both the clauses in such situations. Two simple past tenses are used in this way to emphasize that the second event is the result of the first; e.g.

1. After I left him a message, he phoned me immediately.
2. She worked in a hospital after she graduated.
3. She became famous after her novel was published.
4. When the teacher came in, all the children stood up.

NOTE-I: We use Past Simple in both the clauses if the action or the event in the main clause has little or no duration and does not take place until the time mentioned in the BEFORE-clause; e.g.

She walked out before I had a chance to explain.

NOTE-II: We also use Past Simple in both the clauses when a situation described in the main clause lasts until a time indicated in the BEFORE-clause; e.g.

1. It was two days before my brother returned from Agra.
2. I didn’t think I would like playing football before I tried it.
3. He used to live with us before he shifted to Kolkata.

C) With ALREADY and JUST we use the past perfect, not the past simple; e.g.

1. I had already finished my homework by the time my mother returned.
2. She had just entered her room when the telephone rang.

D) To talk about the present in clauses beginning with AFTER, AS, AS SOON AS, UNTIL, WHEN or WHILE, we use the present tense in the main clause also; e.g.

I look after the children while she is practicing.

NOTE: However, we use the Present Perfect if we talk about an action that takes place over a period of time; e.g.

1. After I have finished typing this paper, I’m going to meet my uncle.
2. You can leave when you’ve washed the clothes.

E) If it’s an order or a request in the main clause we can also use Present Simple or Present Perfect Tense in the clauses beginning with AFTER, AS SOON AS, etc.; e.g.

1. After you’ve finished with it, bring me a cup of tea. = After you are finished with it, bring me a cup of tea.
2. As soon as you have met her, don’t forget to come to me. = As soon as you see her, don’t forget to come to me.

F) If two actions take place at the same time, we use a simple tense, not a perfect tense; e.g.

INCORRECT: Lock the door of the house as you have left.
CORRECT: Lock the door of the house as you leave.

INCORRECT: When I had seen Madhu, I invited her for lunch.
CORRECT: When I saw Madhu, I invited her for lunch.

 

2. ALTHOUGH & THOUGH

Both ALTHOUGH and THOUGH mean ‘in spite of something. Both are the same thing, and are replaceable with each other. For emphasis, we often use EVEN with THOUGH (but not with ALTHOUGH); e.g.

a) The match was beautiful although we lost it. = The match was beautiful though we lost it.

b) Even though she is very busy, she still found time to help me.

NOTE-I: When a sentence begins with ALTHOUGH or THOUGH, we don’t use BUT or YET before the main clause, we usually put a comma rather; e.g.

INCORRECT: Although he was late, yet he stopped to buy fruit. CORRECT: Although he was late, he stopped to buy fruit.

NOTE-II: We can use ALTHOUGH and THOUGH before a gerund (verb + ing); e.g.

1. Anuj, although working harder, still needs to adopt right strategy.
2. The patient, though showing good recovery, is still not able
to leave hospital.

NOTE-III: We can use ALTHOUGH, THOUGH and EVEN THOUGH to introduce a clause without a verb; e.g.

1. Rohan, although very interested, didn’t show any emotion when Ritu invited him to go for a walk.
2. Though not so comfortable, the new model is safer.

NOTE-IV: When the ALTHOUGH/THOUGH clause comes after a main clause, it can also mean ‘but it is also true that …’, e.g.

1. My son is coming tomorrow although I’m not sure whether he will stay here for long.
2. We didn’t make any profit though nobody knows why.
3. My father is leaving for Mumbai, though I don’t
know which day.

NOTE-V: Don’t use ALTHOUGH or THOUGH in front of a noun phrase, you use IN SPITE OF or DESPITE instead in such a case; e.g.

INCORRECT: Although his hard work, he failed his exam.
CORRECT: In spite of his hard work, he failed his exam.

NOTE-VI: THOUGH sometimes is an adverb. You use it when you are making a statement that contrasts with what you have just said. You usually put THOUGH after the first phrase in the sentence. ALTHOUGH is never used an adverb; e.g.

INCORRECT: Very nice although, this dress is too expensive.
CORRECT: Very nice though, this dress is too expensive.

 

3. BUT

A) We use BUT to link contrasting items which are the same grammatical type.

1. I have bought a new car but I still haven’t sold the older one. (joining two clauses)
2. Call me old-fashioned, but I like handwritten letters. (joining two clauses)
3. The hotel was inexpensive but very comfortable. (joining two adjectives)
4. Quickly but silently he ran out of the house. (joining two adverbs)

NOTE-I: We can’t use HOWEVER as a conjunction instead of BUT to connect words and phrases; e.g.

INCORRECT: This dress is expensive however beautiful.
CORRECT: This dress is expensive but beautiful.

NOTE-II: Normally we don’t use BUT in the beginning of a sentence/clause, however we can use BUT in the beginning also if we want to introduce a response expressing a feeling such as surprise or anger; e.g.

1. Vidhi said she was leaving the party. But why?
2. I was slow to acknowledge their response as I broke my leg, but thank you, one and all.
3. But I was trying to prove my point and the only way to do that was to speak English.

NOTE-III: BUT is also used after an expression of apology for what one is about to say; e.g.

1. I’m sorry, but I won’t climb that wall.
2. Extremely sorry, but we are not going towards the station.

NOTE-IV: BUT is also used with repetition of certain words to give emphasis; e.g.

1. Nobody, but nobody, was going to stop her.
2. This is the system we follow, anybody but anybody can get
it done.

NOTE-V: We use objective pronouns (me, you, him, us, etc.) after BUT even in subject position; e.g.

1. Everybody but me has finished work.
2. No one but him would get a job like that.

B) BUT FOR

BUT FOR = Were it not for. BUT FOR is used to introduce the reason why something didn’t happen; e.g.

1. But for the traffic, I would have reached half an hour early. (The traffic was very heavy – if it was normal, I’d have reached here half an hour early.)
2. He would have been badly injured but for the fact that he was wearing helmet. (He was wearing helmet – if he was not wearing helmet he would have been badly injured.
3. I would have reached here on time but for the weather. (means I could not reach on time because of the weather)

C) ALL BUT

ALL BUT = almost completely

a) I had all but finished the letter when the computer crashed and I lost it all.
b) His parents had all but given up hope of seeing him again.

D) BUT/HOWEVER

We can also use HOWEVER in the meaning of BUT i.e. when you are adding a comment that contrasts with what has just been said, but HOWEVER can’t be used as a conjunction when used like this. It then generally starts a new sentence or clause; e.g.

Some of the food crops failed. However, the cotton did quite well.

INCORRECT: Ravi always cooks dinner, however I usually wash up afterwards.
CORRECT: Ravi always cooks dinner. However, I usually wash up afterwards. (or Ravi always cooks dinner but I usually wash up afterwards.)

 

For complete chapter on Important Conjunctions & Their Uses read this book:

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Maha Gupta

Maha Gupta

Founder of SSCEXAMFORUM.COM and guiding aspirants on SSC exam affairs since 2010 when objective pattern of exams was introduced first in SSC.

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