Just as you will be seeing revisions on the SHSAT that have rely on grammar basics like Subject/Verb Agreement and Articles, you also will need to remember how to structure sentences using conjunctions. Conjunctions (such as ‘and’) connect words, phrases, and sentences. Conjunctions function in three ways: to coordinate ideas, to pair ideas, and to connect two separate ideas.
There is a really popular acronym to help us remember how to use different conjunctions to connect ideas within a sentence. Each of the letters in the acronym is a different conjunction:
F: for: The principal played tug-of-war during spirit week, for the faculty and students needed an extra boost of energy. (Sometimes, writers use ‘for’ to function as ‘because’ or ‘since’ and to connect concepts in the sentence.)
A: and: Elisa asked Santa for licorice, a sled, and an Elf-on-a-Shelf. (The conjunction ties together three
different things that are connected by Elisa.)
N: nor: The Lorax did not trust the Onceler, nor did he believe the forest would be protected. (“Nor”
acts as a negative conjunction and relates two similar ideas—both of which must have some
negative sense. In this example, the Lorax does not trust the Onceler and he does not believe
that the forest would be protected.)
B: but: I would have worn a tie but I hate the feeling that I am choking. (“But” connects ideas, but
relates them in a different direction than originally intended.)
O: or: During the summer, I will either spend time with my grandparents or I’ll end up in summer
camp. (Similar to ‘but’, the conjunction ‘or’ connects ideas in different directions. It shows
options among results or actions.)
Y: yet: They say that Snickers can satisfy, yet he acts so hungry after he eats one. (‘Yet’ is similar to
‘but’ and offers a contrast to the original idea in the sentence.)
S: so: I only packed a long-sleeved t-shirt, so I was freezing when the snowstorm hit camp.
Whereas FANBOYS helps us remember the conjunctions that connect ideas, there are other conjunctions that contrast ideas. We’ll call these BENN Pairs, for their beginning words, which can help make sentences clear and well-structured.
Both…and: When both is paired with and, it will connect two subjects with a plural verb.
Example: You’ll do well on the SHSAT if you invest both time and energy into prepping.
Either…or: This pair of words sets up an option between two results or actions.
Example: Either you’ll practice theatre on Thursday or go to dance class.
Not only…but also: This pair of conjunctions works as an “and” between ideas, and does not set
up a contrast between them.
Example: Fans who went to the concert not only got the best show of their lives but
also were given a free t-shirt.
Neither…nor: The neither/nor word pair is a conjunction in which none of the options occur or
Example: Parents neither want their children to suffer nor to want for anything.
Revising That to Connect
One of the important uses of “that” is to conjoin two clauses, or two different ideas that are related. Usually when “that” is used in a sentence to connect, it is used to introduce a summary, a noun, or a quote. When you are revising, make sure to use “that” to connect.
Imagine that you are asked to revise this sentence:
Angela explained more resources were required.
The sentence is not clear. Should we think that “more resources” is the idea that Angela explained? Or does Angela instead need to explain that more resources were required? To properly connect the requirement for more resources, this sentence needs “that”:
Angela explained that more resources were required.
Here are some guidelines that can help when revising using ‘that’ as a conjunction:
You can use a “that” phrase at the beginning of a sentence (as a subject). For example, “That the Giants have Eli Manning doesn’t mean that they will make it to the playoffs,” makes the relationship clear between the that-phrase (the Giants having this quarterback) and the result (making the playoffs).
But, you can also use a that-phrase at the end of a sentence (as the object). For example, “She wrote that she was sorry about not sending money sooner,” uses the that-phrase to explain what the author wrote, and so connects her action to the result of the action.
A “that-clause” cannot stand as a sentence itself—it is a sentence fragment, so make sure the that-phrase is part of a full sentence.