Conjunctive adverbs are connectors… kind of like your annoying cousin who's always trying to take you to "networking events."

They link one clause or sentence to another clause or sentence that expresses a similar idea. Pros: they make excellent transitions and they're super-versatile because they can appear anywhere in a sentence. Cons: they sound like a disease.

List of Examples

Here's a list of several common conjunctive adverbs to keep an eye out for, as well as several phrases that can also be used as conjunctive adverbs:
-as a result
-at the same time
-for example
-on the contrary
-on the other hand



"Lindsay's ecologically minded friends are really into dumpster diving for dinner; however, Lindsay would rather sit down to an elegant nine-course meal."

We're with Lindsay on this one. Supping on someone's day-old salami sandwich seems a bit hard to, uh, swallow. In this example, the conjunctive adverb however is used to link the independent clause about dumpster diving in the first half of the sentence to the independent clause about swanky restaurant dining in the second half of the sentence.

"The spy's cover was blown. Therefore, he returned to headquarters to await a new mission."

This never would've happened to James Bond. Or James Bond, Jr. In this top-secret example, the conjunctive adverb therefore links the two sentences because their ideas are similar. The second sentence, about the spy having to go back to HQ, is the direct result of his cover being blown.

"Judy is allergic to gluten; otherwise, she would have dived into the basket full of scrumptious garlic bread headfirst."

It's okay to feel sorry for Judy. Garlic bread is delicious. It's not okay to miss that, in this sentence, otherwise is a conjunctive adverb because it links two independent clauses that are closely related in idea.


Common mistakes

Hoo-boy have you hit on a hot grammar topic.

The word however is a conjunctive adverb. This fancy title simply means you can use it as a transitional word between clauses or as an adverb modifying a clause.

Either way, its basic function is to provide meaning to the relationship between sentences or clauses. Other examples include therefore and nevertheless, or henceforth and heretofore (if you like sounding like Shakespeare).

These words are flexible, so… yes… it's fine to use them at the beginning of sentences. (Don't hate us, Internet users who disagree.) You just need to recognize when you need a comma. If you don't use one, however means in whatever manner or to whatever extent.


"However I liked the lasagna Aunt Miriam made last night; normally I cannot even stomach the thought of cheese."


"However, I will buy you another set of Pokémon cards if you promise to eat all of your eggplant tonight."

Which sentence is correct?

It's definitely not the first one.

That speaker needs to spend less time chowing down on Italian food and more time digesting grammar. In fact, their sentence actually has two technical errors. First, without a comma, this sentence basically means, "In whatever manner I liked the lasagna…normally I cannot even stomach the thought of cheese." That doesn't sound right.

Second, using a semicolon indicates that the first part of the sentence is an independent clause. Again, the lack of a comma negates that possibility. What's the solution? Put a comma after however. Big problem; easy fix. We love it when that happens.

The second sentence uses however correctly because it combines the conjunctive adverb with a comma and means "In spite of whatever heinous thing you did earlier, kiddo, I will buy you some Pokémon cards if you start wolfing down that eggplant."


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