conjunction · writing tips

Improve Your Writing by Using the Right Connectors (Conjunctions: And, But, However)

In a previous post I discussed a student essay. I showed you how to clear up the most glaring problem in that essay, which was that a lot of sentences ran on and on. They were connected by the connecting word (conjunction) “and.”

I may have given the impression that it’s never good to use “and” to connect sentences. If that is the case, sorry! I didn’t mean to say that. There are perfectly good instances where the use of “and” is exactly what’s called for. You need “and” in sentences where there are two things that are happening at the same time or that go together in any other way.

I just wanted to make sure that before you use “and” to link two sentences, you have a think first: are my sentences really so related that they warrant the use of “and” between them? Or is it better to make two separate sentences?

In some cases, you may need another linking word. Like “but,” “however,” “although,” or “because.” Of course there are tons more linking words.

In this article I’m going to show you some examples with “and” and “but,” which by far are the most common connectors.


Examples of good use:

When you hear a question and you answer it, you are forced to think in English.

Your pizzas are really excellent and not only me but all my family enjoys them.

Wendy put a headphone on and started listening to the audio files.

My name is Angelina and I’m a student from Ecuador.

Wynn, however, knew exactly what was going on in Sin City, and he had a vision of a very different kind of Las Vegas – a rigidly corporate desert oasis structured for the masses. (from an article about Las Vegas by Robert Ringer)


Use “but” to indicate a contrast.

Examples of good use:

I wanted to make chocolate mousse, but I had left the chocolate in the shop.

Adrian Mole loves his parents dearly, but he’s so glad he doesn’t live with them anymore.

The course had cost her $11,000 for one year, but still she could not find a suitable job.

He was not a professional mountaineer, but he managed to climb ten times a year during weekend breaks and holidays.


Have a look here for a previous discussion of “however.” As you know it’s like “but” in meaning, but the position of “however” is different, in that it is placed at the beginning of a sentence, or somewhere in the middle between commas (, … ,), or at the end of a sentence.

Just to recap, sentences with however look like this:

The club has yet to win their first title. However, they will keep trying.

Or: The club has yet to win their first title; however, they will keep trying.

Our results have been improving. Over the last days, however, we’ve picked up a slight delay.

Or: Our results have been improving. Over the last days, we’ve picked up a slight delay however.

And now for the fun part:



For beginners and intermediate learners, we’ll first do a more or less easy exercise where you need to choose between “and” and “but.” 

If you’re more advanced, try the second exercise where you can put in “and,” “but” or “however.”

Exercise 1

You can do this exercise online here.

Use only “and” and “but.”

1 I continued with the course ________ then, after only seven weeks, something amazing happened. 

2 The table was very chatty _________ Cherissa was unusually quiet.

3 Our son Aviv was delivered after only 25 weeks of pregnancy _________ he was the size of my hand.

4 Aviv is now back at home with us __________ he’s a happy, healthy and beautiful child.

5 An authority on the Red and White, Barry Ice is the founder of Canadian Ice Hockey News ________ he is also the host of the popular podcast “Ice Puck.”

6 Apple’s App Store is the undisputed king of mobile applications, _________ the most interesting and exciting applications tend to be built for the iPhone first.

7 I tried everything to lose weight _________ my love of chocolate catches up with me.

8 England hasn’t won the World Cup in football since 1966, ____________ they won’t be giving up hope any time soon.

Exercise 2

Fill in: “and,” “but” or “however.”

You can do this exercise online here.

1 We’ve always been able to park in the street. The municipality, ____________, has made an end to that by making the street free of parking.

2 Those that have heard of the African Mango diet are confused as to what it is, how to use it, ____________ how to avoid falling for downright scams.

3 All my former classmates made it to the reunion. Edwina, ___________, was ill.

4 The late Steve Jobs once called Flash a slow-poke ___________has essentially declared both the iPhone and iPad to be Flash-free zones.

5 Scotland Yard insisted last night that no final evidence had been brought forward _____________ that detectives were not yet ready to bring charges.

6 The Prince has a right to a private life, __________ a picture of him naked at a party appeared in the paper.

7 Tom Cruise asked for his tikkah masala to be extra spicy __________ he ordered a mild version for his daughter.

8 You’d think that English is the most popular second language around the globe. __________, it’s not true; it’s Spanish!

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