Prepositions or conjunctions

As we already know, a preposition is a word used to link nouns, pronouns or phrases to other words within a sentence. Prepositions are words like: about, at, in, on, for, from, opposite etc. that can appear as single-words or pair of words and they express time, place, movement.

Conjunctions are also connecting words, but they can do much more than a preposition because they can connect verbs together and even more, they can connect two sentences together.

There are three types of conjunctions:

  • coordinating conjunctions: for, and, but, or, yet, so.

We have money for breakfast and shopping.

  • correlative conjunctions: both...and, either...or, neither...nor, not only...but also.

Tonight we watch either Titanic or Pride and Prejudice.

  • subordinating conjunctions: after, although, because, if.

Because it was raining, I couldn’t go home. 

Some words can be both prepositions and conjunctions. When we use a preposition that is followed by a clause, it is functioning as a conjunction; when we use a preposition that is followed by a noun phrase, it stays as a preposition.

The most common prepositions that can function as conjunctions are:

  • after

After lunch, we went to the cinema. (here after is followed by a noun so it is a preposition)

After we ate, we went to the cinema. (here after is a conjunction)

  • as

I worked as a waiter during summer. (preposition)

I went to bed at 10 pm as I had a train to catch at 6 am. (conjunction)

  • because

We had to stop to a hotel because of the bad weather. (preposition)

We had to stop to a hotel because the weather was very bad. (conjunction)

  • before

I’d like to go for a walk before lunch. (preposition)

Before I left, I gave everyone instructions about that project. (conjunction)

  • for

We had been waiting for you more than 3 hours. (preposition)

I trust her, for she is a correct person. (conjunction)

  • until

He decided to wait for him until tonight. (Here until is followed by a noun, so it is a preposition)

I will wait in the car until you finish talking to your friend. (Here until connects the subject of the sentence to its dependent clause, so it is a conjunction)

  • since

I've been living in Romania since last spring. (preposition)

I have been promoted twice since I started working for this company. (conjunction)

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