Author: British Council | Published on 2 January 2023


Stage 1: Present examples 

Write these sentences on the board.

Ask: “What do you notice about these sentences?”

Martha can go to the park if she cleans her room.

She will play while it is sunny.

She will come home when it starts to rain.

Vusi didn’t go to school because he was sick.

He needs to get better before he goes back to school.

Sara stayed at home although she wasn’t ill.

To help learners, you could:

  • Underline the subordinating conjunctions (as above).
  • Discuss how these are all complex sentences
  • Ask questions like, “Is there a link between Vusi staying at home and being sick?”  “What must Martha do before she goes to the park?”
  • Elicit that the conjunction shows the link between the two ideas – the clause introduced by the conjunction is not a full sentence.

Stage 2: Take feedback

Check understanding. Ask learners to give feedback on what they noticed from the examples. Some key points could include:

  • Conjunctions are connecting words that join two or more sentences into a single sentence. They also join words, phrases or clauses.
  • Subordinating conjunctions join a main clause to a dependent or subordinate clause to create a complex sentence. e.g. Martha can go to the park (main clause) if she cleans her room (dependent clause).
  • Subordinating conjunctions often show relationships between the two clauses e.g. Vusi didn’t go to school because he was sick; He needs to get better before he goes back to school.
  • Common subordinating conjunctions are: because, before, although, if, when, while. Some other subordinating conjunctions are: unless, after, even though, now that, as long as

Stage 3: Use the grammar

Find the conjunctions

Give learners a piece of text from a story or course book. They underline all the words they think are conjunctions.

Conjunction story

Write a short story on the board. Use pairs of simple sentences. Suggested answers are given in brackets. e.g.

[pairs of sentences]

The boys went to the beach. They wanted to catch fish.  (because)

They used a net. They did not have a fishing rod. (as)

They caught two fish. They went home. (before)

They watched TV. Mother cooked the fish. (while)

Learners join the sentences using a subordinating conjunction. 

You can also do this activity orally. Read out a sentence with the subordinating conjunction. Learners must finish the sentence (e.g. The boys went to the beach because … While mother cooked the fish they …)

Error Correction

Find a piece of writing in a course book and replace all the conjunction words with wrong ones. Write the new text on the board. Learners work together to find all the errors. They rewrite the sentences using the correct subordinating conjunctions.