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Connective Words


To view a large list of Common, Simple Connective Words listed by category, click here.


How can children have fun with complex connective words?

The answer can be found further down this page.



FIRST, HOWEVER, Candy 4WAY Phonics is delighted to offer a brand new Transition Words (Connective Words) INSTANT DOWNLOAD resource package entitled: 


Teaching Transition Words (a Connective Words Package)


Teaching Transition Words (a Connective Words Pkg) includes three resources to help children learn to use connective words. 

They are:  


1) Twenty Story Starters with transitional word choices to help students transition beyond that first paragraph. This resource helps students NOT to stuff their whole story inside their first paragraph.

2) A HUGE list (it really is HUGE!) of transitional (connective) words and phrases entitled: Connectives, Connectives, - Tons of Transitional Words

3) An awesome resource containing 621 different ways to say “said” entitled:

Did you know that "he said," is so boring?


To read more about this brand new

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Now, please keep reading

to learn how children can have fun with Complex Connective Words!

Or, to jump right to a large list of Common, Simple Connective Words listed by category, click here.


Moms and Dads,

How your students begin their sentences will determine the difference between a good, humdrum paper and an outstanding, superior paper. 


Your students can have fun learning to use complex connective words: subordinate phrases, prepositional phrases, participial phrases, and infinitive phrases. 


Children as young as four years old can have fun making up clauses and phrases with complex connective-word phrases if this activity is in game form.


Play simple games making up sentences that begin with complex connective-word phrases.  You can play these games with your children while traveling in the car, while waiting in the doctor’s office, or while gathering around the dinner table.  


QUESTION:  What do we mean when we talk about complex connective-word phrases, and how are these complex phrases different from just common, basic connective words? 

ANSWER:  To answer that question, let's begin by defining what connective words are and how connective words function.  


Connective words are words that connect parts of a sentence and that help the sentence to express a complete thought.  Normally, in elementary grammar classes, children are taught two basic types of connective words to use in the construction of simple sentences:

a) The basic conjunctions: and, but, for, or, nor, and yet.

b) The subordinating conjunctions: after, although, as, as if, as much as, as long as, as soon as, because, before, if, in order that, lest, since, so that, than, that, though, unless, until, when, whenever, where, wherever, whether, and while. Good students use these types of common connective words all the time.  


The use of common connective words placed inside simple sentences using simple sentence structures is a standard way of connecting parts of a sentence. Therefore, these types of simple sentences containing simple connective words within common sentence patterns follow what are called “common readability formulas.”


Most sentences in today’s textbooks and curriculum are written using common readability formulas, and good students use these formulas all the time when they talk, compose, and write.

Our goal, however, should be to make: “the most of every opportunity...” Eph. 5:16

The Bible says to do everything as unto God. It tells us that whatever we do, that we should work at it with all of our heart, as working for the Lord, and not for men  (Colossians 3:23).


Therefore, when we are teaching our children about sentence structures, we should not settle for just common readability formulas.  We can help our children to strive for excellence in their writing by enabling them to use complex sentences that open with complex phrases containing complex connective words that make their readers thirsty to read more. 

When the Bible speaks of excellence, it isn't talking about strivings that are competitive or quantitative.

  • It's speaking about giving our very best to an excellent God!

  • It's producing the finest diamond for a precious God.

  • It's giving the most beautiful flowers for The Rose of Sharon.

  • It's writing the most interesting sentences that show forth the praise of The Author of our Faith.

    It's doing the best that we can do because we recognize that whatever we do, whether in
    thought, word, or deed, we are doing it all for the name of Christ.

So striving to write excellent sentences and learning to use more and more complex connective-word phrases is just the beginning of learning how to express thoughts that honor and serve God's purposes.

Therefore, we can believe that our children can do better than “good.” We can help to create within them a desire to study and to do that which is excellent, even in their language assignments!”

A fun way for our children to learn to use
complex connective-word phrases is to place those phrases at the beginning of sentences.  Although there are actually 12 different ways to vary the beginning of a sentence, here are four types of complex connective-word phrases that children can easily learn that will help them create sentences with interesting openers instead of relying upon boring, popular readability formulas:

subordinate clauses      infinitive phrases      participial phrases    prepositional phrases


Children can begin to “naturally” think with complex connective-word sentence openers even before they can actually read and write, if they are asked to “make them up” as part of a game.



Teachers, Moms and Dads can make up their own  complex connective-word sentence openers that begin with subordinate clauses, infinitive phrases, prepositional phrases, or participial phrases, and you can make those phrases fun for the whole family.  How?  By making those sentence openers "ridiculous."


  • First, make up sentences with "fun" sentence openers for children.  The more “ridiculous” the sentence openers are, the more “fun” they are to “make up?”   For example, one idea is for a parent to give an “opener” such as:

           After the placid, purple puppy flew over the ferocious yellow snapping turtle, he. . .

  • Second, tell your child the meaning of the word "placid."  Come up with other words that mean the same thing. 

  • Third, ask your child to finish “what happened” to that placid puppy, and don't forget to ask him if he's ever seen a ferocious snapping turtle.  What color was the turtle he saw?  How did he know that it was ferocious?  Are most turtles ferocious?  Are there other words that could describe a turtle? 

  • Fourth, play with the words.  Have fun rolling them off your tongue.  Laugh about them.  Make up more of them.


Connective words can be simple or complex.  Either kind connect the reader with the rest of the sentence.  Simply put, that's exactly what simple connective words do --
and that's all they do.

However, complex connective-word phrases not only connect the reader with the rest of the sentence, they make the reader "thirsty" to read the rest of the sentence. 


Four types of sentence openers

that begin with complex connective-word phrases are:

subordinate clauses      infinitive phrases      participial phrases     prepositional phrases


A subordinate clause will begin with a subordinate conjunction or a relative pronoun and will contain both a subject and a verb. However, the actual subject and the verb of the sentence will follow after the subordinate clause. 

A subordinate clause cannot stand alone, it needs more words to complete its thought.

So subordinate clauses leave the reader thirsty to read the rest of the sentence.


Remember, subordinate clauses begin with either a subordinate conjunction or a relative pronoun. 

Here are some examples of both:

after  although  as
because  before 

even if    even though
if    in order that     once
provided that
rather than
since   so that
than   that   though
unless  until
when   whenever   where   whereas    wherever   whether   while   why

that   which   whichever    who   whoever   whom    whose   whosever   whomever


                                                                   A subordinate clause follows this pattern:

                         subordinate conjunction + subject + verb = an incomplete thought needing more words


Whenever Lisa's lazy lambs wandered into Whimpering Wolf Town, the wolves got . . .
Whenever is the subordinate conjunction.

lambs is the subject of this subordinate clause

wandered is the verb of this subordinate clause
wolves is the subject of the actual sentence.
got is the verb of the actual sentence.



Whomever Mr. Sniffles selected to paint polka dots on his plump pumpkins, that boy or

girl would . . .

Whomever is the relative pronoun.

Mr. Sniffles is the subject of this subordinate clause

selected is the verb of this subordinate clause
boy, girl is the compound subject of the actual sentence.
would is the verb of the actual sentence.

As Teddy the Toothless Turtle tumbled down Thorn Bush Mountain, his hard, turtle shell struck. . .

As is the subordinate conjunction.

Teddy is the subject of this subordinate clause

tumbled is the verb of this subordinate clause
shell is the subject of the actual sentence.
struck is the verb of the actual sentence.

Whichever pink grapefruit the giant green pickle picked, he very rarely shared his . . .

Whichever is the relative pronoun.

pickle is the subject of this subordinate clause

picked is the verb of this subordinate clause
he is the subject of the actual sentence.
shared is the verb of the actual sentence.

The important point to remember is that subordinate clauses cannot stand alone – they need something else to complete their thought.


When you begin a sentence with a subordinate clause, always place a comma after the clause and before the rest of the sentence.

                                              subordinate clause + , + main clause.

Even though Bob the Sneaky Snail could never EVER skip
, he readily attempted. . .


An Infinitive Phrase will almost always start with the word "to" followed by the simple form of a verb.


                                                                       The pattern will look like this:

To + a simple verb = infinitive phrase



To gulp his potatoes down in one bite, Arnold jumped in place while. . .

To gulp is the infinitive phrase







A participle is a verbal that is used as an adjective.
A participle is:  part verb and part adjective.
There are two types of participles:  present participles and past participles.

Present participles end in -ing.

Past participles end in -ed, -en, -d, -t, or -n, as in the words stupified, eaten, astonished, built, and been.

                                                                       The pattern will look like this:

+ comma, + main clause = participial phrase




The easiest participial phrases to place into a game should begin with participles that end in -ing.

Panicking, big heavyweight Harry. . .

Panicking is the participle

Laughing hysterically, Deedra the Damp Diaper suddenly. . .

Laughing hysterically is the participial phrase





A Prepositional Phrase is a group of words made up of a preposition, the object of the preposition, and any other words that modify the object.


LIST OF PREPOSITIONS (Note: Children as young as 1st grade can learn to recite all the prepositions in one breath. Make it a game.)



aboard about above across after against along amid among around as to at
before behind below beneath beside between beyond but by
down during
for from
in inside into
of off on over
through throughout to toward
under underneath until unto up upon
with within without




The pattern will look like this:
Preposition + modifier(s) + object = prepositional phrase


Between the putrid pieces of pumpernickel bread, Polly placed a teeny weeny pickle and a pint-sized peanut.

Between is the preposition

the is a modifier

putrid is a modifier

pieces is the object of the preposition


of is the preposition

pumpernickel is a modifier

bread is the object of the preposition



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This site was last updated 10/08/14