What are connectives?

Connectives
Has your child mentioned connectives? Connectives are joining words, and children will be taught to use them to connect phrases together into longer sentences and improve the flow of their writing. We explain what you need to know to help your child with sentence composition at home.

What are connectives?

A connective is a word that joins one part of a text to another.

Connectives can be conjunctions, prepositions or adverbs.

As part of the new primary curriculum (revised in 2014) children will be encouraged to refer to connectives using the correct grammatical terms (conjunction, preposition and adverb) rather than the umbrella term 'connectives'.

Co-ordinating connectives (but, and so) link words, phrases or clauses which are equally important. Subordinating connectives (if, when, however, because, while) link a main clause with a subordinating (or dependent) clause.

There are various kinds of connectives:

When do children learn to use connectives?

Children in Key Stage 1 will often produce a piece of writing made up of many simple sentences, for example:

There is a blue bird in the garden. The bird is eating seeds. It is singing to another bird.

Teachers will encourage children to use the connective 'and' to join simple sentences together, for example:

There is a blue bird in the garden and it is eating seeds.

Teachers will then encourage children to use connectives such as 'but' and 'so' to add layers of meaning to their simple sentences, for example:

I would love to have a dog.

could be improved by adding either of these connectives and another clause, for example:

I would love to have a dog, but my mum won't let me.
I would love to have a dog, so I am going to keep asking my mum.

As children move through Key Stage 2, they are expected to use other connectives to join a main and subordinate clause, for example:

  • I would have approached the witch if I had been braver.
  • It's hard to knock on a witch's door when you are really scared.
  • I was terrified of the witch because she was looking at me intently.
  • I would have run from the witch however the door was bolted shut.

Children in Key Stage 2 are also expected to use connectives at the start of sentences or paragraphs in order to signal the passing of time. For example:

I ran as fast as I could from the witch. I was completely breathless, and my legs ached terribly, but I continued to run. After a few minutes I could not hear her anymore. I slowed down, hoping that she had given up. A cackling noise told me that she was catching up with my again. I ran for my life....
Meanwhile, my parents were at home, frantically wondering where I was.

Children are also encouraged to use connectives in non-fiction texts

By Year 6 children will need to have a good knowledge of what connectives are, why they are used and how they are used in preparation for the KS2 Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling test. By the end of KS2 children will be expected to be able to separate connectives into conjunctions, prepositions and adverbs.

You'll find connectives worksheets to help your child put theory into practice in our grammar worksheets section.