Coordinating Conjunctions

Conjonctions de coordination

French conjunctions
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Coordinating conjunctions are small words that connect two or more grammatically equivalent words or phrases. The connected words might be adjectives, nouns, adverbs, verbs, or even independent clauses; the important thing is that they’re equal and each one serves the same function in the sentence.

Par exemple…

Il est jeune et beau.   He’s young and handsome
    > Et connects two adjectives: jeune and beau
Veux-tu un café, un thé ou un chocolat ?   Do you want coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?
    > Ou is joining three nouns: café, thé, and chocolat
Je l’ai lu, mais je n’ai rien compris.   I read it, but I didn’t understand a thing
    > Mais is the connection between two equal clauses: je l’ai lu and je n’ai rien compris

French coordinating conjunctions

car   for, because
donc   so
ensuite   next
et   and
mais   but
ni*   nor
or   now, yet
ou   or
ou bien   or else
puis   then

  French school kids memorize the seven most common coordinating conjunctions with a mnemonic:

Mais est donc Ornicar ?
mais ou et donc or ni car

Emphatic coordinating conjunctions

Some coordinating conjunctions are used in pairs to emphasize the connection.

et … et   both … and
ni … ni*   neither … nor
ou … ou   either … or
ou bien … ou bien   either … or
soit … soit   either … or

Par exemple…

– Avez-vous un chat ou un chien ?
– J’ai et un chat et un chien.
  – Do you have a cat or a dog?
– I have both a cat and a dog.
Tu peux prendre soit un chocolat soit une boule de glace.   You can have either hot chocolate or a scoop of ice cream.

* Ni and ni … ni are negative coordinating conjunctions. They can only be used along with a negative marker such as pas or ne.

Par exemple…

Je n’ai pas de chat, ni de chien.   I don’t have a cat or a dog.
Je n’ai ni chat, ni chien.   I have neither a cat nor a dog.
Je ne vois ni le chat, ni le chien.   I see neither the cat nor the dog.

  Note that there’s no partitive or indefinite article after ni… ni, but a definite article is ok.

Coordinating Conjunctions Quiz

Think you’ve got it? Test yourself on the French coordinating conjunctions with this fill-in-the-blank exercise: À la télevision

Note: You must be logged into your Progress with Lawless French account to take this test. If you don’t have one, sign up – it’s free!

 Related lessons

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French coordinating conjunctions
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2 Responses

  1. MattB 4 July 2018 / 4:29

    Am I imagining it, or does it seem to be OK in French to omit additive coordinating conjunctions (and, as well as, etc.) between phrases or clauses?

    • lkl 4 July 2018 / 7:48

      Hmm, interesting question. I don’t think they’re omitted more than in English, but if you share a few examples I’ll get a better sense of what you’re seeing.