Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinate in grammar means dependent on or modifying the main clause. Therefore, Subordinating Conjunctions are those Conjunctions which connect a dependent clause and an independent clause. As the word suggests, their main function is to tell the user which idea in a complex sentence is less important or subordinate of another idea. They help relate clauses by acting as the transition between two ideas in a sentence.

Subordinating Conjunctions always come at the beginning of the subordinate clause. These types of Conjunctions are also called subordinators.

Example Usage of Subordinating Conjunctions


I came to teach although I am not feeling well.

So that

I came to this village so that I could teach poor kids as a volunteer.


He did not believe her until he saw proof.

Order of Dependent and Independent Clause

These conjunctions introduce a dependent clause connecting it to an independent clause. We should understand there is no hard and fast rule of order in a sentence while using Subordinating Conjunction. It’s entirely upon us whether we use dependent clause or independent clause in the beginning of a sentence. But first word of the dependent clause will always be the subordinating conjunction. Let us understand this concept with the help of following examples:

You will never learn unless, you work hard.

Unless – Subordinating Conjunction
You will never learn – Independent Clause
You work hard – Dependent clause

We can see that Subordinating Conjunction is the first word of dependent clause so there is no need to put comma.

When I see my daughter happy, I feel blessed.

When – Subordinating Conjunction
I see my daughter happy – Dependent Clause
I feel blessed – Independent Clause

Unlike the first example, dependent clause is used in the beginning of sentence but the rule is same. The first word of dependent clause is Subordinating Conjunction.

List of Subordinating Conjunctions

Whether, Unless, in order that, provided that, until, after, why, before, after, although, though, because, if, even though, even if, once, than, rather than, that, so that, since, when, whenever, where, whereas

Are Subordinating Conjunctions and Relative Pronouns the same?

Sometimes, Subordinating Conjunctions are confused with Relative Pronouns. It happens because Relative Pronouns also tend to introduce dependent clauses. However, they are not same. We can easily differentiate between them as Relative Pronouns act as the subject of dependent clause unlike Subordinating Clauses which are followed by the subject of their clause

Who is absent?
Who – Relative Pronoun

He is the boy who proposed me.
Who – Subordinating Conjunction

Points to Remember

While using comma between clauses we should see whether dependent clause or independent clause comes first. If the sentence begins with dependent clause we should use comma to separate two clauses while in the latter case comma is not required,