Types Of French Conjunctions And How To Use Them

  • Adrien Renault
    Written byAdrien Renault
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Types Of French Conjunctions And How To Use Them

Have you been studying French? Are you trying to get your head around French conjunctions?

These little words are high frequency connectors that you’ll hear in every conversation.

In fact, by learning conjunctions, you’ll get a grasp of the bulk of most French sentences. 😄

Let’s consider the main conjunctions and some key examples.

French conjunctions

The main two types of conjunctions are:

  • Coordinating conjunctions
  • Subordinating conjunctions

What exactly are these conjunctions, and how are they different? 🤔

Here’s what you need to know.

Coordinating French conjunctions

A coordinating conjunction might be a small word, but it has the power to make a more complex French sentence structure.

They join clauses or words together, making your sentences longer and more informative.

You’ll hear native French speakers using coordinating conjunctions when joining clauses that are ‘equal’ in their importance or value.

We’ll return to this concept later.

Wondering how many coordinating conjunctions exist in French? Well, there are seven different examples.

Different coordinating conjunctions

The seven coordinating conjunctions you’ll need to add to your vocabulary include the examples in the table below.

French subordinating conjunctionEnglish meaningExample French sentenceEnglish meaning
CarBecauseElle est stressée car elle a beaucoup de travail.She is stressed because she has a lot of work.
MaisButIl est fatigué, mais dormira bien cette nuit.He is tired, but he will sleep well tonight.
EtAndIl fait froid et il y a beaucoup de vent.It’s cold, and there is a lot of wind.
DoncTherefore/soC’est l’été, donc il devrait faire chaud.It’s summer; therefore it should be hot.
OuOrJe voyagerai en train ou à pied jusqu’à la gare routière.I will travel by train or on foot to the bus station.
NiNor/neitherVous n’êtes ni heureux ni triste. Juste indifférent.You are neither happy nor sad. Just indifferent.
OrYet/nowElle lui a parlé, or elle ne voulait pas.She spoke to him, yet she didn’t want to.


There’s an easy way to use coordinating conjunctions in French: just remember that they connect two independent ideas that are equally important.

This rule means you’ll need to keep in mind that each clause offers the same ‘weight’ of meaning and the same function in your sentence.

You’ve got the freedom to join clauses that contain two or more adjectives, French nouns, adverbs or verbs with coordinating conjunctions in French.

You can even join a couple of independent clauses with these small words.

Let’s look at this concept in more detail with one example 😊:

Listen to audio

Vous n’êtes ni heureux ni triste. Juste indifférent.

You are neither happy nor sad. Just indifferent.

In this example, we’ve used the coordinating conjunction ni to join two adjectives, heureux and triste.

You’ll notice that the conjunction comes between the two adjectives, which is the key to making the sentence more informative.

So when you’re using these conjunctions, this is one rule to remember.

Subordinating conjunctions

A subordinating conjunction is another joining word.

Native French speakers use these conjunctions to join dependent clauses to main clauses.

So there’s a difference between coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.

While coordinating conjunctions come between two equal clauses, subordinating conjunctions join clauses with different levels of importance in a sentence.

Need to know how many subordinating conjunctions exist in French?

There are eight main examples you’ll need to know.

Different subordinating conjunctions in French

Check out the eight subordinating conjunctions in French to add to your vocabulary and see some examples of usage below.

French subordinating conjunctionEnglish meaningExample French sentenceEnglish meaning
SiIfJe viendrai te voir si j’ai le temps.I will visit you if I have time.
QuoiqueEven thoughLe travail, quoique interessant, est difficile.The work, though interesting, is difficult.
QueThatIl pensait qu’après tout ce temps, elle aurait changé.He thought that after all this time, she would have changed.
QuandWhenIls se disputaient beaucoup, quand ils étaient jeunes.They argued a lot when they were young.
PuisqueSince/asAcheter de la nourriture n’était pas nécessaire puisqu’elle en avait déjà assez.Buying food wasn’t necessary since she already had enough.
PourquoiWhyJe lui demande pourquoi il est en colère.I’m asking him why he’s angry.
LorsqueWhenL’événement se produit lorsque les travailleurs terminent leur projet.The event occurs when the workers complete their project.
CommeAs/sinceComme il est très gentil, il aidera n’importe qui.Since he is very kind, he will help anyone.


Using subordinating conjunctions in French will require you to know how propositions indépendantes differ from propositions principales and propositions subordonnées.

Let’s define each of these clauses to help you understand them.

Propositions indépendantes: these clauses make sense on their own. They’re complete sentences that may have other independent clauses attached to them with a coordinating conjunction.

Propositions subordonnées: you’ll notice that a dependent clause relies on a main clause to make sense. It makes no sense on its own.

Propositions principales: this clause connects to dependent clauses with a subordinating conjunction or relative pronoun.

As you can see from these explanations, subordinating conjunctions are the key to joining main clauses to dependent ones.

Here’s a quick example to explain this more clearly.

Listen to audio

Ils se disputaient beaucoup, quand ils étaient jeunes.

They argued a lot when they were young.

In this example, the main clause is Ils se disputaient beaucoup.

We know this because it makes grammatical sense on its own and contains a subject, Ils, and a verb disputaient.

You’ll notice that the dependent clause is the second half of the sentence when they were young, which doesn’t make sense on its own.

Each clause has a different ‘weight’ of meaning.

The main clause Ils se disputaient beaucoup is more significant than the dependent clause. It carries the key message of the sentence, while the dependent clause just adds slightly more information.

Can you spot the subordinating conjunction? 🤔

In this case, it’s quand, which joins the main and dependent clauses.


The good thing about using French conjunctions is that you can add more details to your sentences, French phrases, or anecdotes.

You’ll need to remember some conjunctions if you want to make complex French sentence structures.

Also, check out my guide on How to say ‘When’ in French.

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