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: 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.

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.

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) 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.

E) 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: 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.

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: 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 vs 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 www.examscomp.com and guiding aspirants on SSC exam affairs since 2010 when objective pattern of exams was introduced first in SSC. Also the author of the following books:

1. Maha English Grammar (for Competitive Exams)
2. Maha English Practice Sets (for Competitive Exams)