A conjunctive adverb is an adverb that connects two independent clauses. Conjunctive adverbs show cause and effect, sequence, contrast, comparison, or other relationships. The adverbs and adverbial phrases that fit the criteria for a conjunctive adverb are always modifiers of the predicate in the first independent clause.
Conjunctive adverbs can only be used to connect independent clauses and are one of several methods of doing so. Conjunctive adverbs also do not exclude the possibility of having a dependent clause making a compound-complex sentence. As with other types of adverbs, conjunctive adverbs may be moved within the sentence or clause they appear in.
Common English conjunctive adverbs
- in addition
- in comparison
- in contrast
- in fact
- just as
- on the other hand
- that is
Many common examples listed above are of adverbial phrases, particularly containing prepositions, that are not exclusively a single conjunctive adverb; however, their function and mechanics are identical.
The following rules are considered to be correct punctuation for conjunctive adverbs:
- If a conjunctive adverb is used, the independent clauses must be joined by a semicolon followed by the conjunctive adverb.
- After a conjunctive adverb must be a comma which precedes the second independent clause being connected.
Like other adverbs, conjunctive adverbs can be placed in one of three places:
- at the beginning of the clause followed by a comma,
- in the middle of the clause, generally after the subject or an introductory phrase, between commas,
- at the end of the clause preceded by a comma.
Normally, either one or two commas are used. Yet, sometimes both using or not using the commas are correct; that is, writers are entitled to a degree of artistic license when readability or flow is a concern. For instance:
- He thus opted for the field of artificial intelligence.
The sentences in question are using an independent clause, followed by a semicolon, the conjunctive adverb, then a comma and the second independent clause.
- Bret enjoys video games; therefore, he sometimes is late to appointments.
- He went to the store; however, he did not buy anything.
- Stephanie sent me four valentines; consequently, she is my girlfriend.
- You are poisoned; therefore, you will not live for very long.