FANBOYS: A Mnemonic for Coordinating Conjunctions

By: Zach Taras  | 
Trying to think of a way to remember which words are classified as coordinating conjunctions? We've got you covered. katleho Seisa / Getty Images

Remembering the parts of speech can be tricky. It may have been a while since you took a grammar class, so you might appreciate a helpful tool for remembering coordinating conjunctions. These helpful little words can be brought to mind using the FANBOYS acronym, which stands for: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So.

Admittedly, in the era of superhero franchises and blockbuster multiverses, dropping "fanboys" in reference to parts of speech can create some confusion. People might reasonably assume you're talking about "Star Wars" fans or some other group of hardcore followers of certain movies or TV shows.


But despite the possibility of triggering any Star Wars fanatics who happen to be within earshot, FANBOYS remains a reliable way to keep track of the seven most common coordinating conjunctions.

What Are Coordinating Conjunctions?

Coordinating conjunctions are words that join independent clauses of equal value. That "equal value" part is important, as it distinguishes coordinating conjunctions from other connecting words, such as correlative conjunctions and subordinate conjunctions.

By using a coordinating conjunction, you can tie together different ideas (usually two independent clauses, but sometimes more) in a single sentence, giving them equivalent emphasis. This is something we all do in our everyday speech, and because it's so familiar to us, it can be hard to notice at first.


Common Coordinating Conjunctions

The seven most common coordinating conjunctions are:

  • for
  • and
  • nor
  • but
  • or
  • yet
  • so

In a phrase or clause, coordinating conjunctions are essential for tying two things together to expand or clarify the idea you're trying to get across.


Some Examples of FANBOYS in Action

Here are some examples of FANBOYS being used in sentences.

  • I've seen the film at home and watched it in the theater.
  • Turn on the fan or open the windows.
  • I was hoping to ace the test but I made an error.
  • I'm a loyal Star Wars fan yet I also enjoy Star Trek.

These examples are all pretty straightforward. To truly master these coordinating conjunctions, however, it's helpful to know about the different ways in which they can be used.


Using FANBOYS to Join Words

On of the simplest ways to use coordinating conjunctions involves linking together single words. What's important to keep in mind about this practice is that the words being connected ought to be the same parts of speech: nouns connecting with nouns, verbs with verbs, and so forth.

Below are some examples of the FANBOYS coordinating conjunctions doing their work with single words. Note the consistency of parts of speech being connected.


  • I wasn't expecting all this rain and snow. (connecting nouns)
  • As a leader, she's stern but supportive. (connecting adjectives)
  • Depending on where we go this winter, we'll either surf or ski. (connecting verbs)

Using FANBOYS to Join Phrases

Coordinating conjunctions used to connect phrases follow the same rules. This means that they have to connect phrases that are of the same grammatical category. Below are some examples.

  • I was going to visit the George Lucas Skywalker Ranch, for I'm a pretty big Star wars fan.
  • The producers are asking for a rough cut, yet they still haven't given us a release date.
  • I'm trying to write the story as a drama, but all my characters are funny.


Using FANBOYS to Join Independent Clauses

Coordinating conjunctions can also be used to tie together two or more independent clauses. An independent clause can exist as a standalone sentence; it expresses a complete idea.

However, to make your writing more fluid and readable, it can be useful to combine two clauses (or more) into a single sentence. Creating these compound sentences is easy with the help of our friends, the FANBOYS.


  • I haven't been on a road trip in years, nor have I traveled outside the country since college.
  • I didn't enjoy that final episode of the show, yet I like all the actors who appeared in it.
  • I've been burning the candle at both ends, so I decided to take a mental health break from work.

What Are Correlative Conjunctions?

Correlative conjunctions are similar to coordinating conjunctions, but they have a slightly different function in syntax.

Writers use such as "neither" and "both" to illustrate a relationship between the different clauses or words that are being linked together. They also get assisted by the FANBOYS, as you can see in the following examples:


  • While I like to watch sports with my friends, neither Tracy nor Frank can attend Sunday's game.
  • Both the director and the producer agreed that the actors were perfect in their respective roles.