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FANBOYS is dead, but not everyone agrees!

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During the research and creation of our grammar videos, we've come across a number of differing opinions on certain grammatical terms. In particular, we felt the need to clarify exactly which words were classed as coordinating conjunctions and which would be accepted in the grammar test. We were surprised by what we found.

As a teacher, you may well be used to telling your children the FANBOYS acronym for remembering coordinating conjunctions:

F = for
A = and
N = nor
B = but
O = or
Y = yet
S = so

Whilst this is a great acronym for improving writing, some would argue it's not actually an accurate representation of coordinating conjunctions. It would appear that, upon closer inspection, there are only three main coordinating conjunctions: 'and', 'but' and 'or'. Surprised? Well we certainly were, so we sought to clarify this directly with the Department for Education and here's what they had to say:

DFE Email Extract 

Would you agree with this? The BBC certainly does but the University of Bristol don't doesn't.

We can certainly agree on two things:

  1. 'So that' is a subordinating conjunction
  2. Those who will be marking May's GPS paper will only accept 'and', 'but' and 'or' as coordinating conjunctions.

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you use FANBOYS in your class? How do you explain 'so' and 'so that' to your children?


Ilyas - Posted March 24, 2016


Marin - Posted November 29, 2016

So great article. I love it

Kathy - Posted December 17, 2017

Shouldn't that read 'The University of Bristol doesn't'?

Seriously though, this was really bothering me all of last year as I couldn't justify so as being co-ordinating. Although I mark GPS SATs, I wasn't given that question as a Type 2 marker - I wish I had been!

Chris - Posted December 17, 2017

Ahh well spotted Kathy. There's always one that slips through! Thanks for pointing it out. Yes, it's certainly a tricky one.

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